Volti Keeps Singing “Without a Net” or Audience

Janos Gereben on November 10, 2020

Volti Executive Director Barbara Heroux announced the acclaimed San Francisco vocal ensemble’s 42nd season, an all-online program of free “cocktail-hour miniconcerts,” streamed on 5:30 Saturday afternoons. The concerts are free but Volti is asking “patrons to consider making a donation of $25.” Event links are sent after reservations are made at the website.

In the Volti tradition, the season will feature premieres from Bay Area composers Anne Hege, Danny Clay, Joel Chapman, and Pamela Z. Each composed a piece for Volti’s 16 singers using various online platforms and combining live-streamed and prerecorded music.

On Nov. 21, Anne Hege’s it sounds like all my dreams opens the season with a live-streamed premiere. The work, in nine sections, is for SSATTB live soloists and SATB recorded chorus, with pre-recorded video art elements. Hege says:

“The purpose of this piece is to create something expressive and musical within the constraints of the technology available and to show the very different nature of three spaces — live sound through video conferencing, prerecorded sound, and a broader dream/natural world as represented in the tape tracks.

“I am searching to find how life fits together in this new normal, when music is made without hearing one another, when I am home every evening to listen to the crickets with my daughters, and when my need to be musical is often thwarted by distance and the limits of technology. Suddenly, what is musical to me is shifting.”

Hege is the artistic director of Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble, director of Level IV of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and conductor of the Holy Names University Chorus.

The second miniconcert, on Dec. 19, will feature a new work from Danny Clay. Drawing upon his experience as an educator creating improvisational musical activities with kids and adults alike, Clay’s piece will take the format of a virtual “game show” in which members of the chorus are faced with a series of musical challenges to complete.

Dates and programs for concerts in 2021, with Joel Chapman and Pamela Z, are yet to be announced.

Volti Artistic Director Bob Geary comments on the ensemble’s plans:

The past months have been unique in our lifetimes. Semi-isolation, inability to gather to make music, no hugging friends outside of the immediate bubble ... but also far less time in the car, more home-cooked meals, more time to read, meditate, etc.

And now, thanks to the many of you who stepped up to help fund some new music, Volti has been able to commission four wonderful composers to create music especially designed for online rehearsal and presentation.

Anne Hege and Danny Clay are both currently rehearsing their new pieces with the singers. I attend rehearsals and watch these composers weave compositional ideas and technology into something that I can see will result in very interesting performance outcomes.

I watch the upwellings of creativity, the enormous enthusiasm of composers and singers, and dare I say it, love, and I come away uplifted and full of admiration for Anne, Danny, and the superb singers of Volti.”

Volti’s mission is to foster and showcase contemporary American music and composers, and to introduce contemporary vocal music from around the world to local audiences. The group has commissioned more than 100 new works, by emerging as well as established composers, winning the prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music seven times, more than any other vocal ensemble.