Text and reviews for Juxtavoices
OVERVIEW FOR PROMOTERS
Juxtavoices is a large antichoir directed by composer Martin Archer and writer Alan Halsey, which includes many faces from Sheffield's leftfield music, poetry and visual arts scene. Although the group performs structured scores, no fixed pitches are ever notated, and the group uses improvisation to shape the detail of the scores as the music progresses. Both trained and untrained voices are included. Influences come from performance poetry, improvised music, and from the scored music of composers such as Stockhausen, Cage, Ligeti. But maybe more fun and more approachable. As well as playing concert venues, the group is to be found in various unexpected public places and at poetry / text events. To date, more unusual performance locations have included an installation at Magna Steelworks, Rotherham, the Bear Pit at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens, a noisy intrusion into Sheffield Central Library and a duet with the giant River Don Engine at Sheffield's Kelham Island Industrial Museum. The group performs either short concert pieces or open ended installation pieces, depending on type of event and venue.
SUGGESTED PROGRAMME NOTE
Juxtavoices is an anti-choir of 36 mostly untrained voices whose repertoire includes members' own compositions and arrangements of classic modernist poems and found texts. The scores provide structure but freedom of pitch allows improvisation to shape the detail so that no two performances are ever the same. Audiences are unfailingly surprised by the Juxtavoices sound. Some try to name-check composers in the avant-garde tradition but none quite fit. Some shudder at the dark theatricality, some hear the humour, some are outraged while others feel an irresistible urge to join the ranks. This is singing on the edge of not-singing or vice versa, a music only previously heard in a sound-poet's dreams. The group enjoys unusual acoustic spaces - furnace floor or bear pit or library stairwell - as well as churches and more conventional concert venues. It hopes to create a chord which will startle the ghost of Thomas Tallis. Directed by Martin Archer and Alan Halsey Juxtavoices uniquely combines the outer reaches of improvised music and innovative poetry.
Here's a mass exorcism, a whole tribe talking in tongues, 30 full-moon were=Ligetis, and Wicker Man workings wrangled by the Swingle Singers. - Stewart Lee, SUNDAY TIMES
Precisely what art should be: challenging, reflective and dislocating. Voices struggling to articulate thought and emotion, whispered and screamed and seduced and accosted from nowhere' (Norman Paul Warwick).
When describing his motivation for this project, Martin says it was "the sheer inability to control the music fully which appealed to me", but it has to be said that the end result, although it is as I said before unlike anything I've come across previously, sounds remarkably controlled. Of course, underneath that is the feeling that it all could collapse in on itself at any minute. I will make every effort to be there for what should be a surreal and entertaining experience. ROGER TRENWITH - ASTOUNDED BY SOUND
Points to all sorts of fascinating directions for voices and experimental writing. Indeed, like readings by, say, Caroline Bergvall or Miles Champion, Juxtavoices plays with the fact that what is sounded cannot be properly understood. - © David Kennedy 2013,STRIDE