Programme_Joan La Barbara | Rabbit Hole/Acid Trip from 'An American Rendition'

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'An American Rendition' represents the second collaboration between composer Joan La Barbara and choreographer Jane Comfort. The collaborators created a political theater work for premiere prior to the 2008 election, focusing on the devastating results of 8 years under the Bush/ Cheyney administration, and reflecting both the losses of personal freedom and the atrocities committed in the name of the American people. 

Rabbit Hole/Acid Trip occurs near the end of 'An American Rendition', as the detainee, an American citizen who has been kidnapped and taken to an undisclosed location in which he is psychologically and physically tortured, reaches the edge of his sanity, and experiences this trip down the rabbit hole.  This abbreviated [4:33] mix, created for radioplay, offers a glimpse into the psyche as it deteriorates.
La Barbara makes extensive use of breath sounds in this score, noting that it is the poignancy of the breath, the very humanness of it that makes it so personal and so shocking.  She also uses breath for its sexual connotations, to emphasize both the overt sexual overtones of commercial entertainment and also the degradation imposed on detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. The jagged fragments of pop music mirror descriptions by prisoners and soldiers of extremely loud music played to inhibit sleep. The work oscillates jarringly between the raw, personal and surreal.

Her career as a composer/performer/soundartist has explored the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument expanding traditional boundaries, creating works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology, developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques: multiphonics, circular singing, ululation and glottal clicks that have become her "signature sounds".

'73 Poems', her collaboration with text-artist Kenneth Goldsmith, was included in The American Century Part II: SoundWorks at The Whitney Museum of American Art. 'Messa di Voce', an interactive media performance work in collaboration with Jaap Blonk, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, premiered at ars electronica 2003. La Barbara has created sound scores for film, video and dance , has collaborated with artists including Lita Albuquerque, Judy Chicago, Ed Emshwiller, Bruce Nauman, Steina, Woody Vasulka and Lawrence Weiner, and has premiered landmark compositions by Robert Ashley, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, and Morton Subotnick. She is currently composing a new opera exploring the interior dialogue and sounds within the mind.

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