MESSAGIO GALORE is an organically thetic examination of the possibilities inherent in the wide range of activities that occur between literature & music (with interpenetrations of each) commonly called “sound poetry”. it approaches the genre as inclusive (encompassing, for instances, chant, optophonetic texts, multilinear narrative, choral works, group improvisation, organized sound effects, concrete & visual poetry, letterpuzzles...) & investigates issues of writing/composing, scoring, transcription, reading, rehearsal, group dynamics, audiencing & &. (jwcurry, from the program introduction)
On Sunday, January 23, 2011, jwcurry produced the seventh in his series of “Messagio Galore” performances, again at the Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery, promoted as “an evening of sound poetry (& similar) focussing on extended works & miniatures featuring the voices of jwcurry, Lesley Marshall, Christine McNair, Alastair Larwill, Grant Wilkins, reading work by Antonin Artaud, Robert Ashley, bob cobbing, jwcurry, don sylvester houéard, Ernst Jandl, Alastair Larwill, Sam Loyd, Franz Mon, bpNichol, Michèle Provost, Rob Read, Tomahawk, Richard Truhlar, Frank Zappa.” For a number of years now, jwcurry has been developing a series of multi-vocal pieces and performances, with multi-voice sound works composed and/or performed with Gary Barwin, Max Middle, Jennifer Books, Rob Read, Maria Erskine, Stuart Ross and Richard Truhlar. More recently, he's been working more specifically on works/performances favouring larger groups, of four, five and six, as opposed to duos and trios. For this, his seventh version of “Messagio,” the group has been rehearsing together for nearly a year, starting regular practices back in April, 2010 (with Lesley Marshall replacing Montreal-bound Sheena Mordasiewicz in November), and even performing with Rob Read and Gustave Morin in Poplar Hill, Ontario during the August long weekend, and again, for Sandra Ridley's Carleton University poetry workshop in November. As curry writes in the program about the series of “Messagios”:
MESSAGIO GALORE got its kickstart in 2004 as a lecture with sound examples, serving (unintendedly) as a good example of how not to about doing this & suggesting the advisability of a constantly-revised series of takes. given that sound poetry is a physical presence occurring in realtime often using more than a single voice, it has proven instructive to engage a shifting complement of readers to play with in varying degrees of immersion in rehearsal. the transmission of sound to page to sound again is a tricky biznis at best & it can almost be said that there are as many methods of scoring & reading sound texts as there are texts.
take VII takes an audio look at several extended works bridged with miniatures, mostly using different methods of scoring & articulation.
The previous incarnation, “Messagio Galore Take VI,” took place two full years earlier, January 24, 2009, as part of Max Middle's A B Series [see my report on such here], with a two hour performance by jwcurry, Roland Prévost, Carmel Purkis, John Lavery, Sandra Ridley and Grant Wilkins (with the vocal addition of Toronto writer Maria Erskine near the very end) performing orchestrated vocal works for two, three, four, five and six voices. Theirs was an intense sequence of multi-hour, marathon practice sessions over a few months, resulting in a performance of material that focused on large and smaller groups of performers, working duos, trios, quartets and the group as a whole. What was different about this new incarnation was realizing how the entire program of pieces were orchestrated for the entire group, with only two of the seventeen pieces performed were duets, and the remainder adapted for four or five voices. As the previous incarnation had performances designed to highlight the individual strengths and personalities of the performers, the pieces in “Take VII” were performed as blended voices that weaved in and out of each other, deliberately in and out of harmonies, and even to the point that it became difficult to distinguish what sounds were coming out of what performer (another deliberate play, as performers often shifted vocal roles mid-stream).
Taking up a corner of the Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery space, even the placement of the performers shifted from piece to piece, either to alternate sides of each other, or even with performers standing behind one another. If the previous “Messagio” brought a series of individual performers out of themselves, this current incarnation blended the combined strengths of a series of individual performers into a single vocal space, and the closing piece, “She Was A Visitor” (one performed at “Messagio Galore Take VI” as well) brought in the additional voices of Sandra Ridley, Sheena Mordasiewicz, Carmel Purkis and Roland Prevost, with Larwill and curry at either end, providing book-ending sounds to the varying discordant sounds and harmonies throughout the centre. And the program, wonderfully articulate in its notations on individual performed pieces, provided information without necessarily providing direction, knowing full well that no two performances of any piece could be ever the same, and deliberately so.
Artikulationen, Franz Mon (Germany, 198-?); source: riverrun voicings soundscapes, ed. Klaus Schöning (Mainz, Germany, Wergo, 1999), transcribed, scored & arranged by curry (2008) from a quartet recording made at the Studio Akustische Kunst in 1990. Mon's “environment of syllables and sounds searching for words” (Schöning/trans. Steven Lindberg, CD note) began in the 1960s & includes a series of homages to sound artists, this one for Velemir Khlebnikov.readers: curry, Larwill, Marshall, McNair
What becomes fascinating is also in how jwcurry, over the past near-decade, has been developing quite a group of sound performers in Ottawa. curry has been talking informally for a few years about organizing an orchestra of voices for sound poetry, and this performance, far more musical in scope and tighter as a performing unit (in places) than previous “Messagios,” certainly brought those elements out, brilliantly.
And for those who might have missed it, yes, the entire performance was filmed with multiple cameras, thanks to Gio Sampogna and Ben Walker.