February 21st, 2013 , by John Beeler
As part of its new partnership with Brooklyn-based, artist-run label New Amsterdam Records, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s March 9, 2013 concert presents Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Ryan Lott of Son Lux in a performance that smudges the line between “rock” and “classical.” You can buy tickets here.
Ryan’s set features the music of Son Lux in new orchestral arrangements created by a trio of rising classical musicians: electro-acoustic composer Daniel Wohl, and acclaimed singer-composers Caroline Shaw (of avant-garde chamber choir Roomful of Teeth) and New Amsterdam co-founder William Brittelle. Shara will join the orchestra in a perfomance of Penelope, the “ravishingly melancholy” (New York Times), “quietly devastating” (Pitchfork) song cycle by Sarah Kirkland Snider, another co-founder of New Amsterdam.
Neither singer is a stranger to the world of classical music. Both have studied composition and collaborated extensively cutting-edge chamber sextet yMusic, and Shara was recently tapped by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang (of the Bang on a Can collective) to give voice to his eerie cycle death speaks.
Shara sees the chance to sing someone else’s music as a liberating opportunity. “One’s own songs are so personal, and so you know it and have an intimate way of singing those songs,” she says, but “sometimes ‘knowing’ means that you get stuck in a rut and can’t see your own tune in a new light, so you have to challenge yourself to approach your own material like an improvisation at times in order to stay fresh.”
The challenge is to inhabit another composer’s music as intimately as if she had written it herself. “When you go to sing someone else’s tunes,” says Shara, “you really want to apply that same level of investment to their work as you have to your own.”
Penelope‘s lyrics, by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, interweave the story of Homer’s Odyssey with that of a woman whose husband returns from a more contemporary war so damaged that he is no longer himself. Shara points out that the multilayered piece is also an opportunity to exercise the more dramatic side of musical performance.
“There are at least four different voices in this text,” she says, “and I’m enjoying approaching it from more with actor eyes, and allowing the characters and their journeys to really let something different happen in my voice.”
The concert takes place at 7:30 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre. Edwin Outwater will conduct. Tickets are here.