Experimental Music and Ecomusicology

Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 2:00 PM

University of Oregon, Berwick Hall
With Bethany Battafarano, Lizz Windnagel, Brittany Pack


All Musicking events are free and open to the public. All events are subject to change


The objective of this project is to examine the ways in which experimental and theatrical vocal music can contribute to an ecomusicology-based performance. The proposed project engages with a core set of questions and challenges posed by the relatively new field of ecomusicology. On a broad scale, the project heeds musicologist Aaron Allen’s call to invest in environmental understanding, education, interdisciplinarity, and activism (Allen 2011b)​. At the heart of our project is a musicking process based on the dynamic relationships between music, humans, and the environment. We constructed our methodology in response to Allen’s question, “How does nature inform music, and what can the study of music tell us about humans, other species, the built environment, the natural world, constructed ‘nature,’ and their connections?” (Allen 2011a, 392). Our project seeks to establish, in Christopher Small’s words, “​relationships between person and person, between individual and society, between humanity and the natural world” (Small 1998, 13)​. In our lecture-recital, we will analyze our musicking process within the context of ecomusicology. We will draw from Holly Watkin’s research on music and place-making (Watkins 2011) and from Denise Von Glahn’s research on women’s role in that place-making​ ​​(Von Glahn 2011, 2013).

Our methods are based in two performance practices of experimental music that are closely related to one another: improvisation and theatrical devising.  We will draw improvisation and devising methods from the likes of Pauline Oliveros and Meredith Monk; literature such as ​Performance as Research ​ (Barton 2017) and ​Frantic Assembly (Graham 2009); and our years of combined experience (see bios). Our foundation will be the use of source material to create structured improvisations. Source materials will include both musical and textual items, such as Pauline Oliveros’ improvisatory “Lullaby for Daisy”, Artemis’ devised “Greed”, JS Bach’s “Schafe Können”, Denise Von Glahn’s​ ​​Music and the Skillful Listener, ​ and Lorraine Anderson’s ​Sisters of the Earth ​ . Our performance creation will be site-specific. We will visit Eugene area rivers, woods, farms, and garbage dumps as our sites of inspiration. The previously mentioned source material will be used in interaction with the environment to compose the structures of our improvisational pieces. We will take audio and video recordings of these site visits, which we will incorporate into our live recital to provide part of the compositional structure. This use of technology will also establish a more direct relationship between audience, environment, and performance.

Bethany Battafarano and Lizz Windnagel​​ have worked together for five years. They have sung together professionally with The Rose Ensemble, Border CrosSing, and Apollo Master Chorale, among others. Their experimental vocal ensemble, Artemis, has been commissioned for performances with 113 Composers Collective, Cedar Cultural Center, Walker Art Center, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, The Guthrie Theater, and Constellation.

Bethany Battafarano ​​is a graduate student at UO studying Vocal Performance and Musicology. She appears regularly as a new music soloist with 113 Composers Ensemble and First Readings Project. Experimental composition experience includes: study with Dr. Randall Bauer, ​Unless Sounds ​ (New Ruckus, 2015), ​Oda a la paz ​ (Cedar Cultural Center Commission, 2016), BETH (commissioned by Victoria Malawey, 2017).

Lizz Windnagel ​​is a graduate student at the University of Calgary studying Vocal Performance with an Interdisciplinary focus. Directing credits include: ​This Side of the Blue ​ (Open Eye Figure Theatre, 2014), Sing Me Naked ​ (Open Eye Figure Theatre, 2016, winner of Lavender Magazine’s “Best Performance Art 2016” award), and ​Crone House ​ (Disobedient Femmes, 2016). She has also participated in two workshops with Meredith Monk.

Brittany Pack​​ is a MFA Directing student at the University of Calgary. Pack’s current and upcoming work has included using devise theatre technique to explore queer female representation in theatre (​One Sided Triangle, Mauser). ​ She co-created and directed ​Harpy, ​ a devised theatre piece as part of a Canada 150 grant. She​ has worked as a musician, actor, and director throughout Newfoundland, combining conventional theatre and devising techniques with vocal exploration.


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