Joan La Barbara, voice, percussion, computer, electronic keyboard, synthesizer; Polly Tapia Ferber, hand drums, tar, dumbek; Erika Duke Kirkpatrick, cello; Kristina Melcher, gamelan; Gaylord Mowrey, bowed piano; Tao Chen, dizi; Si-Si Chen, yangqi and percussion; Bao-Li Zhang, erhu
Composer/performer Joan La Barbara (b 1947) has been an influential figure in experimental music since the early 1970s. She has devoted her career to the exploration of the human voice as a multi-faceted instrument. Going far beyond traditional boundaries, she has created works for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, music theater, orchestra and interactive technology. ShamanSong features three premieres of vintage La Barbara "sound paintings" of pensive beauty and spiritual resonance.
ShamanSong (1991, rev. 1998) is a concert suite comprised of selected excerpts from a film score. "Plaintive descending chords of soft hammers striking an ancient Balinese gamelan instrument, tar and dumbek, shakuhachi, music box tines, rainstick and African rattles all are blended with sighs and whispers, lamentations and ululations, calls, cries, lullabies and vocal winds to weave a strange mystery."
Inspired by the Rothko Chapel in Houston, "ROTHKO (1986) is a series of sound paintings designed to reflect the mood, texture and emotion of Mark Rothko's final paintings for this very special chapel－dark, intense, but with an inner light and moving figures that are sometimes heard, sometimes hidden."
Calligraphy II/Shadows (1995), for voice and Chinese instruments, exploits to bewitching effect the delicate and haunting sonorities of the indigenous instruments in this graceful and stately tone poem.