Shelley Hirsch (2000)
An award-winning vocalist, composer, and performance artist, Shelley Hirsch’s works for concert hall, recordings, film and television draw upon experiences from her own real (eg. her splendid autobiographical radio play “The Vidzer Family”) and imagined life (eg. “Now I Am Yours” and the dynamic “War of Dreams”) to create song-stories filled with compelling characters, extended vocal techniques, actual and hypothetical languages, brilliant improvisation, and richly imaginative electronic effects. For this Roulette TV video, she performs “States” in which her remarkably pliant voice modulates through instant evocations of a nightclub singer, shamanistic chanter, passionate Arabic poet/singer, iconoclastic and obsessed chanteuse (sounds of applause, “Is that for me?”), and other personae. Mixing together charmingly comic take-offs on standards such as “Blue Skies”, “Tenderly” (“The body is the biggest recorder possible!”), and “Blue Moon”, with a rich underscoring of electronic modifications and samples from popular and concert music of the world, the audience may float through a mysteriously evocative “sonic travelogue”. In her post-performance interview, Hirsch relates tales of her early influences and performances, her attempt to be a Kabuki dancer, and her creative discoveries with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, as well as discusses her unique “organic” method of composing “in the most real … committed way that you can”.
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