Photos are by Oscar Loeser.
University College of Opera

Moving Tongues: Playing Space

Welcome to Alex Nowitz’ solo performance featuring voice, strophonion with four loudspeakers, and video. The concert is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of University College of Opera. ‘Moving Tongues: Playing Space’ forms also part of Alex Nowitz’s PhD examination in February 2019. Alex is a doctoral candidate in the field of opera.

Alex Nowitz: performer, composer 

Jimmy Svensson: sound and light
Sabine Vogel: video and slide presentation
Sukandar Kartadinata: software and hardware monitoring

Wilhelm Carlsson: Professor of Musical drama at Stockholm University of the Arts and University College of Opera

Tone Åse: Associate Professor at the Department of Music, NTNU

Examination committee:
Henrik Frisk: lecturer at KMH and Lund University 
Franziska Baumann: lecturer at the Berne University of Music, Professor for voice training and contemporary vocal music at the Théatre Musical departement. 
Morten Qvenild: Associate professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music in the department of Jazz, Improvised Music and Traditional Nordic Folk Music Department

Rolf Hughes: PhD (Director of Artistic Research, Experimental Architecture Group, Newcastle University)
Sten Sandell: PhD (composer, musician)

About Moving Tongues: Playing Space 

When vocal and bodily meet technology-related practices by using custom and gesture-controlled live electronics applying a variety of live sampling techniques, a performance æsthetics of the ‘in-between’ and ‘uncertainty’ emerges, which forces the performer to consistently act upon the question how to handle those cross-disciplinary challenges that, due to the complexity and multitude of variables coming together from the different disciplines, can neither be planned nor predicted, but are certain to arise.

Accompanied by video works, the presentation of a set of live performances will be carried out in the extraordinary space with its uneasy, church-like acoustics of ‘Reaktorhallen’ which, thirty meters under the KTH campus, used to be home to a research reactor. Disseminated through a quadrophonic loudspeaker set-up, the approach to extend the voice by applying a live electronic instrument is explored via the ‘strophonion’, formerly built at STEIM in Amsterdam and, during the course of the PhD, further developed by Berlin-based software programmer Sukandar Kartadinata who created an intricate configuration on the basis of the audio application Max 7. The performance represents the first public appearance in Sweden with this new software environment.

‘Moving Tongues: Playing Space’ comprises also a distilled version of the ‘Manifesto for the Multivocal Voice’ which depicts a ‘discursive solo performance act’ by means of both informativity and performativity in order to provide insights into principles and premises, but also to nurture the discourse on the politics of today’s performance voice.

Photo by Oscar Loeser

Eventually the performance reaches out for an electric and expanded space of vocal expression fostering and at the same time requiring the development of a heightened perception mode. Controlled by body movements applying wireless sensor technology, the boundary between the human live voice and its aural copy, the acousmatic voice, becomes blurred. It’s exactly this kind of encounter with the unfamiliar that makes us become alert and attuned to vocal soundscapes that are unusual, but nevertheless increase our awareness of perception. The audience is invited to hear and listen, see and watch, and by doing so to tune in (einstimmen) to one vocal apparatus (Stimmapparat) resonating in a peculiar space to experience, with a deepened attentiveness and an expansive quality, the sound of the voice.

Support: The performance is supported by KTH through Leif Handberg as well as by the University College of Opera.

About Alex Nowitz doctoral research project

Proposing a 'multivocal' practice (in German Praxis der Vielstimmigkeit) in the vocal arts, the doctoral research project embodies an inclusive approach to the four core categories for the contemporary performance voice: the singing, speaking, extended and disembodied voice. Multivocality addresses various modes of virtuosity, all of which are informed by a multi-faceted artistic knowledge, whether experimental or experiential, technical or technological, improvisational or compositional.

The project is driven by the investigation of the voice’s boundaries in the field of contemporary vocal art performance. On the basis of the highly subjective approach to the vocal arts through the researcher’s own voice, the posed question is what the performance voice could be rather than asking what it is or represents at the current time.

Either by extending the potential ranges of the multi-register voice or by examining the ‘in-between’ and the ‘unknown’ of an interdisciplinary and interdependent approach to oral, vocal, bodily and technology-related practices, the performance not only uncovers that these idiosyncratic practices are informed by additional questions pertaining to technical issues to bridge the vocal terrains, but also unfolds what is conceived as a bountiful ‘vocal imaginary’.

Being part of the defence of the doctoral candidate dissertation ‘Monsters I Love: On Multivocal Arts’, the performance ‘Moving Tongues: Playing Space’ will be documented by Dan Lageryd and on 24 January 2019, published on the Research Catalogue.

Read more about Alex Nowitz doctoral project: Monsters I Love: On Multivocal Arts

Save the date!
Alex Nowitz defence date and place: University College of Opera, Hugoteatern, 27 February 2019 at 10.00 - 14.00.