The performer’s presence
The vocal performance Vokal-De-Konstruktion was informed by the tradition of youth choirs. The attentiveness and presence that was demanded in this performance was unusual for the choir members. The responsibility a performer has in a site-sensitive spatial musical performance became evident in this context.
The silent performer
Silence in choir performances can become visible in addition to being audible because singers let their score sheets sink, their eyes search around, clothing is adjusted etc. In Vokal-De-Konstruktion silence is a compositional parameter. Through the dismantling of the choral structure in the space, the silences of the distinctive voices that are part of the original choral compositions become more evident. In order to care for these silences, the singers were asked to stay in the music with their attention and presence when not singing. Ways of visually connecting to the music included watching the conductor, reading the notes of the other voices, or listening consciously to the unfolding of the music. Some singers found joy in watching how the audience discovered the piece. This attention towards the audience is another way to be present and attentive during parts where one does not sing.
Connected to this is the understanding that silence is more than being quiet or “not doing anything”. During our rehearsal time, we did some exercises in order to reflect on this aspect and explore and discuss the differences. For example, the singers performed in small groups for each other and gave feedback on what they enjoyed in the presence of the group, and of individual performances in that group. Especially for the small children it was important to understand that when they look bored or search for things to occupy their mind, they take some pleasure of the experience away from the audience.
In the dramaturgy, silence was sometimes introduced as a possibility to tune down to a zero. This meant a moment of stillness for the performers, the sound, the space, the audience. It created a point where anything could happen next and enabled a refreshed receptivity.
As the performers also provide indications for the audience on how to be in the performance space, it was an important realisation for me that in silence one can show that one is listening. When the audience sees that the singers listen to the music, they listen more closely.