Open Scores Lab / Glenn Gould

I am testing out a new idea for a choral piece centred around recordings made by Glenn Gould. I had the opportunity to try it within the context of James Saunders’ Open Scores Lab. Below is some text from the accompanying lab report (written by James) as well as videos for context.

For the rest of his session, we worked on a new piece by Luke, provisionally titled after Glenn Gould. The piece involves a group of performers watching a film of Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and listening through headphones. The audience only see the performers and do not experience the source material directly. The performers mimic Gould’s mouth shapes and quietly echo his singing, but only when his mouth is visible. As with Luke’s other pieces, this brings a hidden layer to the fore.

We tried two versions of the piece: once with just the trio (James Saunders, Louis d’Heudieres, Caitlin Rowley), and once where we were joined by Michael Winter reading from a text, in this case White Fang again, using the same methods as in Literary Field Recording. The situation for the performer is complex, trying to distinguish the moments when Gould’s mouth is visible (he often turns away from the camera or ducks down behind the piano) in order to begin singing. Given the low volume level of both Gould’s singing and that of the other two performers’ sung echoes, distinguishing who is singing is also somewhat difficult. I was also very much aware that my experience of the piece was very different, given my exposure to the piano playing in addition to Gould’s singing and our group response. In this way, Luke and Louis’s work have some correspondence, presenting hidden materials in a way that makes their function clear for the audience. I like this element of translation very much.


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