Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sailor Days

Biddy Connor, composer, musician, and vocalist, arrived in February from Melbourne Australia and kicked off the 2013 residency season. Biddy's aim was to delve into the Joshua Tree experience and compose music which would be used as a soundtrack for Megan Evan's video work entitled Stranger in the Desert. Megan completed the residency last summer and Biddy had received an Australia Council grant to create this collaborative sound piece based on the work in progress.

As Biddy was here for only two weeks, we jumped right in. Straight from the airport to a showing of Eva Soltes ' documentary about the composer Lou Harrison which was screen at Furstworld, our local world class venue. The next evening we dined with Eva and the musician in residence at Harrison House, Saba Alizadeh. 

Biddy setup in the studio and started to work - coming back from a sound walk, she told me she had played a barrel cactus and I listened to the recording pleasantly surprised. I learned a lot about sound art over the two weeks as Biddy went from one inspiration to another sharing the highlights. 

Toward the end of the first week, we ventured to the Integratron for a sound bath and Biddy brought along her musical saw. After the group present had woken up from marinating, Biddy played in the acoustically perfect space and the effect was quite haunting. later that evening, Biddy played a working draft of her new piece while we watched the video with a neighbor. Live soundtrack is quite a joy.

Early into the second week, Biddy performed at the Culver Center for the Arts in Riverside. She played several of her songs from her album, Sailor Days (available here), and then finished with the new piece for Stranger in the Desert. At points, Biddy's viola, voice and saw were all looped live through electronic controls and she became a veritable one woman band. It was a wonderful performance and the audience was most appreciative.



The Riverside gig was ultimately the warm up for Biddy's performance at BoxoHOUSE. She played in the studio/exhibition space which had works by Diane Best and David Mackenzie hanging. The film in progress was projected on a wall over Mackenzies' minimal works. There was a capacity crowd that listened quietly throughout and then participated heartily as Biddy invited all to chant "home" as she looped the word repeatedly through the software. A very touching moment for all. 


On her last day at BoxoHOUSE, Biddy and I took a walk and she used the opportunity to play one more unusual instrument - a sculpture on the nearby HDTS land. Biddy then headed off to New York and Princeton to play and record for a few days before returning to Melbourne. Biddy's was the first non-visual artist in residence and I am very grateful for the new perspective she brought to the program.

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