Local musician Vicki Hallett has spent years creating the Elephant Listening Project. It is an experimental form that combines the sounds of elephants with meditative rhythms and melodies on clarinet, bass clarinet and the Korean daegeum.
Presented in the Strachan Theatre at the Wool Museum, Hallett presented an hour long performance that combined pictures of elephants in their natural environment with the music they have inspired. The pieces drew on infrasonic sounds made by the elephants, that have been raised two octaves so that the human ear can hear them. To this is added layers of rhythm and melody, all performed by Hallett through the use of loops to create a meditative space that allows the heartbeat of the jungle to be experienced. This was particularly effective on the bass clarinet where the sonorous tones invited the listener into communion with elephants who inspired the pieces.
The images of elephants were drawn from a project by Cornell University, whose researchers have set up an observation tower in Africa to observe and record the elephants movements. The process of capturing and selecting footage has taken years, and is still being refined for future projects. Hallett amusingly finished the performance with a ‘word from the sponsors’ which was additional footage of an elephant conversation.
This was a masterful performance that held the audience enthralled. This was a particularly impressive feat given that almost half the listeners were young children who were able to sit on comfortable cushions, or move around as the mood took them. This was a beautiful performance, and bodes well for the artistic diversity of this city.
More information about Hallett, including how to buy the Elephant Listening Project compositions can be found at http://www.vickihallett.com.
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