I’ve been invited to write a tour blog, reflecting on my involvement as an improvising musician in the UK tour of Sensual Emergency. As it’s a site specific piece, we gave five very different performances.
Day 1: Resonance FM
Sensual Emergency began its UK tour run on the daily show, Clear Spot, on London’s arts radio station, Resonance FM. Three of us from the creative team hosted an hour of live radio, in which we explored our various personal feelings about the piece. Each perspective was explored, from my viewpoint as a musician, bound in bandages and Christmas lights, to that of presque-burlesque cabaret star Andrea von Wichert, and of our director, Kelly Lovelady. We talked about how the process of improvised creation really feeds off performer interaction. The spoken voice fuels my rhythmic and musical ideas, which are then are observed and shaped by our director. The chance to perform the piece live to air was fantastic motivation for our week ahead.
Day 2: V22 Summer Club
Our first audience performance was adapted for an old biscuit factory now being used as the V22 Workspace. As night fell, the venue seemed to become more and more immense, and the sonorous backdrop was just as vast, with voice and instruments echoing across the reverberant space. With the spotlight on the spoken word, the musicians were made invisible, high on scaffolding in the darkness. The distance between the spoken word and music was boundless, making verbal cues impossible. The unusual acoustic and layout was the perfect way to keep the spontaneous side of the piece alive, and it was a true improvisation.
Day 3: Latymer Projects
The Latymer Projects studios in west London was another unusual venue, resembling an office floor of doors coming off hallways. We performed our piece from inside a closet as part of a Live Art showcase, the first performance of the tour in full costume. With a long dance piece on before us, we ended up being bound for what felt like a very long time. While sweating in a hot and airless room, the sense of emergency really took hold. Minutes seemed like hours as we waited to perform. When we finally took the stage, the physical circumstances made the emergency feel real, and it was an effective and exciting version of the piece.
Day 4: Art Lobby
Art Lobby is a gorgeous gallery for an intimate audience, where our host Fleur Donnelly-Jackson really encouraged us to do something creative. We performed with the door open to the setting sun and ambient traffic noise. Passersby were drawn in, and a crowd gathered to watch our performance from the street. We explored a range of improvisations in our opening set, which included some of Andrea’s own writing, and ended the night with Sensual Emergency. The chance to interact with our audience members so closely allowed for some special moments.
Day 5: Brighton Fringe Festival
Our beautifully sunny day in Brighton started with a bang, as we fuelled up at a conveniently located food festival on the beachfront! We were one of several items on a mixed program which included Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel. The grandeur of the church meant we could really maximise the potential for dramatic lighting effects, and playing to the Fringe’s sizeable audience was a great end to our tour. The concept was well-received by Brighton’s New Music enthusiasts and we really had the sense that this piece was an ideal fit for the festival.
Krista Martynes is a multi-media clarinetist who brings new life to standard and new repertoire. She broadens her performances with inventive improv including audio and video sampling that maintains an acoustic character. Krista is known for her eclectic performance range; from classical to contemporary to improvisation. She performs as a soloist, chamber music, and ensemble clarinetist. www.kristamartynes.com