In this programme, Juliet Fraser performs three compositions written for her, revealing the uniqueness of her voice and representing quite different approaches to the voice in general and in combination. “Variations on a voice” is a programme developed, devised and dedicated to Juliet Fraser’s voice.
“Tracery : Hardanger” by Cassandra Miller begins with a repeated, sustained sung tone. Is this live or pre-recorded? It is both. In her performance, Juliet Fraser adds ornamentations around that repeated note. Each phrase is as long as the length of her breath. Sometimes the live melody anticipates the sustained note, sometimes it follows it. It is a music of coming and going, of being together and being alone. It is a modern take on folklore as the material is primarily inspired by non-notated traditions: Two Hardanger fiddle tunes form the starting point for the first modules. Other inspirations are a movement from Ben Johnston’s eighth string quartet and a song by the British all-female punk rock band The Slits. This work was created in close collaboration between the composer and performer, Cassandra Miller and Juliet Fraser.
Another work presented that night is the composition “While we are both” by Lawrence Dunn, based on a poem by Caitlín Doherty. The work is a sort of metamorphosis of sound textures and is “concerned with the limits of communicating with and knowing others and also the possibilities – and impossibilities – of commitment to other persons”. The title refers to the line “while we are both awake” as the protagonists are longing for sleep.
Finally with the work of Rebecca Saunders, Fraser is looking into the thresholds found between two worlds: the interior and exterior. “The Mouth” explores the wide range of colours and sounds produced in the oral cavity – as the mouth embodies this threshold. According to Saunders, this piece asks: “What is this inner voice, what is there suppressed, held within, flowing beneath the surface?” The electronic part is performed live by Alexis Baskind, and Juliet Fraser’s voice is constantly manipulated and electronically modulated in space.