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 composer Cassandra Miller and soprano Juliet Fraser explores a form of “automatic singing”. At the beginning, Fraser sits on stage and puts headphones in, through which she hears a “guide track” – and then she meditates. A different track, a tape part made of her pre-recorded voice, is played into the space. How the piece will sound is not predictable. 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. This work was created in close collaboration between the composer and performer, Cassandra Miller and Juliet Fraser. It is part of a long-term project that has produced several discrete but related pieces that set out to experiment with a performer’s freedom and vulnerability on stage, rejecting traditional ideas of performativity and “singerly-ness”. 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”.
Finally with the work of Rebecca Saunders, Fraser is looking into the thresholds found between two worlds: the interior and exterior, the inner voice and the sounding voice. “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? And what can actually then be said, if anything at all?”