Groundwater is an hour-long multimedia musical work in which sounds leave visual echoes that are in turn manipulated and fed back into new sonic processes. The piece is scored for mezzo-soprano, viola, cello, piano, and live electronics, with additional video projections that both respond sonically to the musicians’ sounds and sometimes prompt new ones through acting as notation for the players to read. Before each performance, a long sheet of fabric is placed between the hammers and strings of an upright piano and the hammers are prepared with dye. As the pianist plays, the singer gradually pulls the fabric through the hammers, leaving imprints on the fabric. These visual echoes are hung as a backdrop, which is manipulated throughout the rest of the work and becomes a canvas for video projections. The work’s narrative centers on the drama of the making and unmaking of the piece’s physical materials and imagines the emergence of the cloth from the piano as a visual metaphor for groundwater. Groundwater will be collaboratively developed with mezzo-soprano Beth Wesche, violist Emma Hey, cellist Erin Busch, and pianist Ania Vu and presented as a weekend of three performances in 2021.
A section of Groundwater developed in fall 2019: