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This blogpost is a response on a video report that can be found by following this link which was supported by the ‘Innovation, Creativity and Experience Theme‘ at Goldsmiths, University of London. Adam Fergler edited the video that presents composer and singer Nina Whiteman, alongside Lauren Redhead and I where we introduce ourselves, our work, and our current ‘vox humana’ project. vox humana consists of our commissioning work by a group of internationally based women composers for our tour in the New Year, 2020. These works will not only contribute towards our growing repertoire but, as our previous works have done, they will establish their own set of performance practices, push boundaries of what is possible and contribute towards a changing set of perspectives and approaches to music making.

There is probably no such thing as two organs that are exactly the same, organs often appear with their own specific histories and cultures of music making. In addition organs built in the 19th, and early 20th century have undergone repair, multiple retuning, and have been made compatible with modern day electronics. Furthermore, extensions and improvements (especially involving digital technology) create almost hybrid type instruments, the peculiarities of which have to be learned quickly, and either worked with or worked around in concert.

The composer featured in the video is Nina Whiteman, who is also a singer and works with Trio Atem and furthermore improvises and lectures both at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Holloway University. During the summer Nina completed a sketch that we played through a few times and recorded/video’d for Nina to see the results of — part of this recording can be seen in Adam’s video. In this case we use a iPad which is close-networked with the computer and is seen running the MIRA interface in MaxMSP. Programming this in MaxMSP allows us to build both a simple stopwatch (which is a preferable means of coordination than a click-track), and, depending on the piece, more interactive elements for the organist. We are both very excited at working on and performing Nina’s piece once it’s completed. Nina’s work includes the use of experimental game-strategies, a score that each performer must traverse through as in a maze, and video. In the video Nina describes her interest what she sees as the complex agencies by the performer that help to shape, mould, and contribute to a composition. This is partly the reason for her seeking out these open form type strategies in performance. We both look forward to Nina’s piece once it’s finished!

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