Today was the first 'read' with our four wonderful soloists. Each one brings something very special to the project - stylistically, personally and collaboratively. It was great to meet those I had not met personally and see those I did know. The concept behind the work was introduced, as was the concept behind the score and the way it would be presented.
The day began with a very rewarding session where each soloist made very valuable suggestions and readings, as well as asking great questions about the work and their own role in it. It is interesting how differently people from different backgrounds approach it - classic opera, free improv and sound art. It is great working with such a broad range of styles/ages/experience in this group, but it also makes me realise that the process is going to have to be tailor made to this group, rather than any established or standard approach to opera/ theatre/ music/ improvisation/ performance.
Even the warm up process was diverse! But a very collegial and encouraging start to the project.
This is also the case with the score for the opera. Today, music director Aaron Wyatt, stage manager Sue Studham and copyist Dan Thorpe worked hard to find ways to simplify the process of updating the score as we worked through revisions and suggestions. Aaron made a script that turns all the layers of the master Illustrator score files into image files that he can then bulk upload to the multiple ipads (around 20) that are used to deliver the score for the work. The paper scores provide a mechanism to deliver updates that are then presented in the new electronic score each day. We are also considering a MaxPatch that assists us to jump to rehearsal letters on the score. I have to keep reminding myself that this is itself an experimental process that we are really only working out for the first time.
We looked at some staging ideas and lighting states we had discussed in my last 'reccie' visit to Adelaide with the production team and prepared the 'stage' for the orchestra. Three section leaders (all except one) arrived today - Tina Havelock Stevens (percussion) as well as my long term Decibel collaborators Tristen Parr (strings et al) and Stuart James (electronics). We discussed the score, sound worlds and issues of visibility within the score reader.
The sound set up is taking shape and the network facility provided by the always incredible Guy Smith is long ranging and reliable. Looks like a phone tower. Wonderful support from the crew at Vitalstatistix too, finding gear and players for the orchestra. Exhausted but excited as the team slowly grows and the piece gets closer and closer to becoming real.
A somber note, bringing me back to 'home', was news that Graham Wood passed away today. Working with the wonderful WAAPA alumni and staff, we all took a moment to think about Graham's contribution to music in Western Australia.
Stage manager Sue Studham showing us some ideas around the lighting state.
I am sure this vocal warm up was pretty unique.