FACE for voice and ensemble (60′) (U.S. premiere)

Pierluigi Billone writes:

Face has a double meaning: light/star in Old Italian, as well as its typical English meaning. But, both expressions—“Voice and ensemble” and “Voice”—must be clarified. Voice, in a general sense, appears in all parts in different ways and according to particular hierarchies. It deals with a main vocal part (the female voice) with two satellites (Flute, special performer).

The solo voice has a rich, free and visionary part, with traces and accents of a pseudo-ancient “Greek tragic voice”, a wide spectrum of spoken and sung moments—but inner vibrations, or instrument-like vibrations. The voice reaches its central moment of development by using only “vocal acts”: basic actions and gestures like breath impulses or throat noises, and so on.

The special performer has a ritual and mysterious function as a “mediator”. His unconventional instrumental & vocal actions mark and accompany the Solo Voice, with introductions, punctuations, and commentaries, until the moment when the “mediator” takes over the musical rule of the Solo Voice.

The Flute musician mainly performs a vocal part—hidden and filtered by the flute, and completely dependent on the Solo Voice.

Sometimes, the whole ensemble turns into a consort of speaking and singing. And in certain contests, there appear “fossils” of voices: fragments on tape of quotations from Cage, Lachenmann, Nono, Scelsi, Stockhausen, etc.

In FACE, Voice means a real constellation open in all direction and senses. It appears everywhere and in any way, and its logic of appearance remains willingly enigmatic and unclear. The usual and traditional orientation towards vocal mechanics and “expression” has no place, here: Instead, the body sounds and vibrates.

Some vibrations have a surface (i.e. a word). There is no real text, so that when a vocal action has a spoken articulation its meaning remains intentionally hidden. The vocal actions initiate bodily gestures, as autonomous act which only afterwards lead to words or language. There is a “clearance” before the word, and independent from the word. The traditional hierarchy has been uprooted.

The body eventually chews, devours, drinks, spits, vomits or builds the word new. The body leaves the voice, coming out or hiding, always starting from its emptiness—but still remaining centered on its emptiness. The voice now needs this free detachment from the language. Why? Because there is something more important and urgent now…

An instrument in my hands, sometimes, turns itself into an unknown thing, still mysterious and therefore motionless, without a definitive voice. The body and the thing must yet find their balance—must be reconciled. In these experiments, I have encountered what enables the production of vibrations, before something can be defined as sound or noise, and therefore be included or excluded from a musical dimension. This happens even before the final mastery of a technique that covers these initial experiences…