THE VOCAL CONSTRUCTIVISTS specialize in the performance of text and graphic scores, alongside works that extend ‘traditional’ notation. The group was formed by Jane Alden in 2011 and was the first ensemble to perform an all-vocal version of Cornelius Cardew’s epic Treatise (1964-67). They have since performed works by a variety of experimental composers, including Mark Applebaum, Anthony Braxton, Neely Bruce, Jan Duszyński, Wojciech Kosma, Paula Matthusen, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Parsons, Bogusław Schäffer, Tomasz Sikorski, Christopher Williams, and Christian Wolff. In London, they have performed at the South London Gallery, Morley College, Hanbury Hall, V22 Summer Club (The Old Biscuit Factory), The Forge, Arcola Theatre, and Peckham multi-storey car park (as part of the 2013 London Contemporary Music Festival). The group has made guest appearances in Canterbury and Southampton, in Dublin (Ireland), and New York (USA). They were Ensemble-in-Residence for the 2013 Time Stands Still conference at Wesleyan University, Connecticut; at the 2014 Music and/as Process conference at Christchurch University, Canterbury; at the 2015 Stoke Newington Contemporary Music festival; featured in the 2016 Dublin sound art festival, Ideoprenurial Entrephonics 2; and they were the closing act of the 2016 Southbank Centre’s Deep Minimalism festival at St John’s Smith Square. In 2017, they gave the first tribute concert in memory of Pauline Oliveros at London’s Café Oto.
The Vocal Constructivists explore idiosyncratic notation as a form of social practice, with the scores supplying open-ended vocabulary for collective discourse. The group has commissioned and premiered sixteen works, establishing themselves as an important force in new music-making. Coming from diverse backgrounds, with ages ranging from 18 to 78, the Vocal Constructivists draw on a variety of artistic influences—classical, global, avant-garde, eclectic, and dramatic. Experimentalism is a primary motivation, propelling the group away from an expected sound world. Their CD Walking Still is available on the Innova label (#898).
“a group of exceptionally gifted singers who are at one with each other” – Choir and Organ
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pauline Oliveros, a composer and musical visionary who has been close to the Vocal Constructivists’ development and influenced our thinking and musical life in so many ways. Pauline’s compositions and her wisdom have inspired us to work more closely as an ensemble and her personal input has been invaluable. We were honored to work with her as recently as June 2016. In Pauline’s own words:
‘Dying will happen to all of us at some point. Impermanence still rules. However we should think about this question: what is your relationship to peace? Do you want to live in peace or do you want to live in violence? Which would you choose? One of the things we want to do according to my partner and co–Deep Listening teacher Ione is “make peace more exciting than violence.” That is the process we are attempting’.
(American Music, 2007)
We shall be performing some of Pauline’s works in the near future, and hope you will join us to remember her and her extraordinary vision – one which we could all benefit from in these uncertain times.
The Vocal Constructivists.