As part of its commitment to supporting new music, and music written for and by women, Voci launched a new initiative in 2014—the New Works Project—to expand the repertoire of contemporary music for women’s (treble) voices through a collaborative process. The vision of Artistic Director Dr. Anne Hege, the New Works Project brings together early- and mid-career composers, ideally from the San Francisco Bay Area, with Voci, to develop new compositions over a two-year period. The two-year timeframe is designed to provide multiple opportunities for interaction between the composer and Voci, including workshops and performances, allowing time for experimentation, feedback and revision.
In spring 2016, Voci celebrated the outcome of its first New Works Project installment, with the premiere of “On Music and Nature: Three Hopkins Settings”—a suite of three commissioned pieces by inaugural composer-in-residence, Ann Callaway of El Cerrito. The suite draws on the text of three poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Callaway wrote the pieces as a series, starting in fall 2014. Voci performed an excerpt of the first work, “Henry Purcell” in May 2015, followed by a premiere of the full piece at the Sonic Harvest new music festival in Berkeley in October. Voci premiered the second piece, “Moonrise June 19, 1876” at its winter concerts in November 2015, and performed the full suite, including a premiere of the third and final piece, “Woodlark,” at our May 2016 performances.
For more about these new works, read our interview with Ann Callaway.
Now in our second cycle, Voci is thrilled to be working with emerging composer and former Voci singer, Julie Herndon as our second New Works Project composer-in-residence. Julie is a California-based composer and performer, working along the boundaries of internal/external space with song, improvisation, text, graphics, and electronics. Her compositions and installations have been featured abroad in Italy and Singapore, as well as in the U.S. at venues including the Hot Air Festival in San Francisco, Megapolis Audio Art Festival in Oakland, Zen Mountain Cloud Center in Santa Fe, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Herndon is a graduate of Mills College and is currently pursuing a PhD in Musical Composition at Stanford University. Julie sang with Voci in 2015–16.
Julie will workshop her compositions with Voci over a two-year period, while being mentored by inaugural composer-in-residence, Ann Callaway. Julie is developing a set of pieces for Voci, based around the emotional experience of natural phenomena. The first piece, “am an ocean,” which Voci will premiere at its spring 2017 concerts, uses palatal whistling and phonetic syllables to conjure up images of an oceanic landscape. From these sounds, the phrase “I know I am an ocean” arises and then disappears. Julie says, “with these pieces, I hope to recreate the transformative realizations that are possible in nature: how we are as vast and limitless as our surroundings.” Of the opportunity to be writing for Voci, and working with both Anne Hege and Ann Callaway, Herndon has enjoyed “such a wonderful experience having sung with the group last year and gotten to know its character from the inside.”