Site Singing at The Arnolfini – announcing The Stage (Working Title)

In March this year I had the opportunity to develop my work in progress into a scratch-style debut live performance for Site Singing. The Arnolfini was working with UWE Architecture MA students, who took over gallery 1 for a month to present The Stage (Working Title). They had designed and build theatrical modular units which could be interacted with, moved, and endlessly repositioned by performers and public, as a testing ground for live performance. Read more about The Stage (Working Title) here.
The Arnolfini interviewed me in advance, and published this blog entry on their website:
Site Singing Gloucester Cathedral. Image courtesy of Ellen Southern.

Site Singing

The Stage (Working Title) now in Gallery 1 for our Spring Season offers space and apparatus for performance, gathering, idling and discussion. This week on The Stage we can enjoy the live debut of Ellen Southern’s vocal field-recording based project, Site Singing.

Here she explains how she came to develop this project:

“I first plucked up the courage to sing by joining an amateur choir over a decade ago. I had no experience of vocal scores and was immediately fascinated by the structure and sonic effects of choral works and ensembles.

In 2014, I began a self-initiated project by which I could explore my voice in new ways by taking it ‘out there’, into the field. I began visiting several lesser-known English Heritage sites within a bus ride of Bristol, including a medieval barn, an abandoned stone bridge, long-barrows and standing stones. With just a simple hand-held field recorder, I have worked directly with the acoustics of each space to create some initial vocal ‘sound-sketches’ of each site.

The ‘open rehearsal’ at Arnolfini will be the testing ground of a new work in progress, where we will experiment with acoustic elements I have developed through my solo field trips to heritage sites in the South West. We will also be working directly with the space to create the beginnings of a new experimental live work.

Visitors will be invited to share the space and listen, and to discuss the work while being able to view and physically handle maps, photographs and drawings created over the course of the project so far. We will present a first rush, or ‘scratch’ style performance, of the resulting material for our Friday evening session.

A hint of what to expect? Think spatial sound, atmospheric immersive voices, sonic layering, unexpected harmonies, microtones and harmonics, combinations of live and recorded voices, amplified treatments and effects, distance and proximity, interesting vocal dissonances and textures, rawness, improvisation and exploration.”

For the live debut of the sound art piece, Southern will be working with two fellow singers, Leila Gamaz and Chloé Turpin.

Voice-work in progress: Tuesday 14th March 14.00 – 17.00 Gallery 1

Scratch performance: Friday 17th March 18.00 – 20.00 Gallery 1 

Site Singing was first presented to the public in a solo exhibition, Site Singing: Vocal Explorations of Heritage Sites at Centrespace Gallery in 2014, in the form of work in progress. Since then it has been presented interactively at All Hallows Hall in Bristol as part of the Eastonia event series on the theme of ruins, and further work in progress was presented at my second solo exhibition at Centrespace in 2015, Polyphony: Adventures and Experiments in Voice 2011-16.


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