Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Shines at 2014 MATA Festival

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The esteemed Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart gave their New York solo debut at the Kitchen on April 20, as part of the 16th annual MATA Festival. Performing a program of American premieres, core repertoire and MATA selections, the vocal sextet displayed a considerable range of vocal virtuosity.

The first work on the program was Georges Aperghis's Vittriool, written for the ensemble in 2001. The work mixes speech sounds with close harmonies, and free, theatrical sections collide with passages of precise rhythmic unison. A new work, Silvia Rosani's T-O, broke the group into two sections, each group seeming to sing as a single being, emitting mournful songs and fluttering breath sounds. 

Another mild, breathy piece followed - Intone by Brahim Kerkour explores the potential of continuous breath, gradually shifting between tiny gradations of color, almost never requiring the singers to engage their vocal chords. Two Songs from Mihyar from Damascus, settings by the Syrian poet Adonis by composer Zaid Jabri, ended the first half.

The second half of the concert took a more theatrical turn, beginning with Francesco Filidei's Dormo molto amore, employing major, pentatonic and chromatic scales to set a Beckett-like poem by Italian dramatist Stefano Busellato. Stepping into wilder territory, the ensemble stammered, wailed, gulped and sang through the engaging Notre Meute by Gabriel Dharmoo.

Lars Petter Hagen's The Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Note Book began with the singers huddled around a boombox, each stepping out in turn to tell the audience about their deepest insecurities, and culminated with the ensemble playing an Argentinian folksong on childhood instruments. The final piece called for the singers to stray into their own world, listening to rock songs on headphones and periodically singing along, dancing and playing air guitar and drums in Jennifer Walshe's 2007 work, Paddy Reilly Runs with the Devil.

Complete Program:

George Aperghis – Vittriool

Silvia Rosani – T-O

Brahim Kerkour – Intone

Zaid Jabri – Mihyars Gesicht

Zaid Jabri – Das Ende des Himmels

Francesco Filidei – Dormo molto amore

Gabriel Dharmoo – Notre Meute

Lars Petter Hagen – The Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Note Book

Jennifer Walshe – Paddy Reilly Runs with the Devil

Recorded and mixed by Noriko Okabe.