Amirtha Kidambi: Lines of Light

17 Jun 2018

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New York
New York, United States


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The composer/vocalist channels centuries of vocal tradition through electronics and structured improv with inspired, virtuosic collaborators.


Vocal Quintet
Jean Carla Rodea
Anaïs Maviel
Emilie Lesbros
Charmaine Lee
Amirtha Kidambi

Amirtha Kidambi/Lea Bertucci Duo
Amirtha Kidambi – Voice
Lea Bertucci – Analog Electronics

“Lines of Light” is inspired in part by the title of the late Muhal Richard Abrams’ “Levels and Degrees of Light” and Medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen’s reference to her vision of God as “The Shade of the Living Light”. The vocal quintet is a structured improvisation, intended to allow each vocalist to exercise maximum creativity within the larger framework of the piece. Each vocalist was chosen for their individual techniques and expression. The group has “free improvised” together, which became the inspiration, reference point, and basis for the piece.

Lea Bertucci and Amirtha Kidambi have played together in different acoustic formations, with Bertucci also on bass clarinet, merging acoustics and electronics, with the idea of a creative feedback loop between the two, rather than a one-way processing or manipulation of the voice/instrument by electronics. The explorations are reminiscent of early electronic music and musique concrete, with the added element of live improvised performance. Bertucci plays a tactile tape machine, tape recorder, and samples, while Kidambi uses voice, microphone manipulation, and extended vocal techniques.

Amirtha Kidambi is invested in the performance and creation of music, from free improvisation and  jazz, to experimental bands, and new music. She is a soloist, collaborator, and ensemble member in groups including Charlie Looker’s early music inspired dark folk band Seaven Teares, Mary Halvorson’s quintet Code Girl, analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra, and Darius Jones’ vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit. As an improviser, she has played with Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Ingrid Laubrock, Daniel Carter, Ava Mendoza, William Parker, Trevor Dunn, and many innovators in the New York scene. Recent collaborations include the premiere of AACM founder and composer/pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Dialogue Social, Darius Jones’ The Oversoul Manual at Carnegie Hall, a premiere of electronic composer Ben Vida’s work Slipping Control for voice and electronics with Tyondai Braxton at the Borderline Festival in Athens, Greece, the premiere of the late Robert Ashley’s final opera CRASH at the Whitney Biennial, a Jazz Gallery commission for Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl, the premiere of William Parker’s Soul of Light and a commission from the Jerome Foundation for her quartet Elder Ones at Roulette and artist residency at EMPAC to record the group’s debut album.

Lea Bertucci is an American composer and performer whose work describes relationships between acoustic phenomena and biological resonance. In addition to her instrumental practice, (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), her work often incorporates multi-channel speaker arrays, electroacoustic feedback, extended instrumental technique and tape collage. Her discography includes a number of solo and collaborative releases on independent labels, including I Dischi Del Barone, Obsolete Units, Telegraph Harp, Clandestine Compositions and NNA Tapes. She has performed extensively across the US and Europe at venues such as The Kitchen, PS1 MoMA, The Drawing Center, Anthology Film Archives, Abrons Arts, The Walker Museum, Madison Square Park, The Reniassance Society, Chicago, ISSUE Project Room, Pioneer Works, The Queens Museum, Roulette, Artists’ Space, Caramoor, The High Zero Festival, and Experimental Intermedia, among many others. She is a 2016 MacDowell Fellow in composition and a 2015 ISSUE Project Room Artist-in-Residence.

Charmaine Lee is an improvising vocalist from Sydney, Australia. Her work favors a uniquely personal approach to vocal expression, concerned with spontaneity, playfulness, and risk-taking. She has performed with leading improvisers Joe Morris and Nate Wooley, and maintains ongoing collaborations with contemporaries Lester St. Louis and Zach Rowden. She currently resides in New York.

Emilie Lesbros, born and raised in Marseille, France and later in Paris, is now based in New York. Lesbros worked as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (violinist, pianist, guitar player) in various contexts, engaging in eclectic musical projects ranging from rock, classical, jazz, electronic music, experimental, and performing art. She has released some acclaimed work under the name, Miss Elie.

Anaïs Maviel is a vocalist, percussionist, composer, music director, educator, curator, and healer. Her work focuses on the function of music as essential to settling common grounds, addressing Relation, and creating utopian future.

Jean Carla Rodea engages a variety of practices including music, visual arts, performance, research, and teaching. Raised in Mexico City and currently living in Brooklyn, the work is informed by identity, immigration, ritual, performance, ecology, construction work, improvisation and interaction with time/space.

Photo: Reuben Radding

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