Return to the VAT
Since our first visit to the Vat we spent time devising and working on the score with the Newcastle Noizechoir. We temporarily located ourselves in Isis arts studio thanks to their kind donation of space. This allowed us some time to play and experiment and leave sound system and mics set up. The devising process was mostly done as a collaboration with the choir members, we spent time looking at our extensive collection of photographs and playing with the scores made by our workshop participants from the Burn O’ Vat. We then began to relate our geological and researches on how the space evolved and began to map out different periods of the Vat’s history. The choir shared their ideas and pooled geological knowledge about the pre-glacial North, volcanism and the ringing tone of the earth resulting from eruptions. We set upon a structure of four movements, each one representing a smaller and smaller time frame, from pre-history to the present.
Protist is a reflection on the ancient metamorphic origins of the Dalradian group, a complex unstable and evolving environment disrupted by volcanic activity rings, drones. Episodic sounds compressed into momentary flashes as if listening to pre-history speeded up thousands of times
Glacial spacious cracking ice and air, which the choir imagines tens of thousands of years of glaciation and the kilometre of ice rising up over the Vat, the towards the end we hear the water begin the shift and move.
Here the ice really begins to melt in a hard and violent movement, we experience the rocks grinding out the vat as the water moves ever faster over few thousand years
Sunday Morning brings us up into the present day and represents a number of hours with Claps, whoops, tourists, moss, mobile phones, insects, water, drips and trickles out of the Vat. This movement is populated by people and the energy they bring to the Vat.
We returned to Aberdeen with 6 of the choir. In the morning we drove to the Vat to perform our piece. It was a cool, damp but bright morning and we were fortunate to have the Vat to ourselves for most of our visit. Even though the choir are seasoned performers, it was good to have unbroken concentration. Our only onlookers appeared as we were warming up but they thought better of staying to watch and disappeared up the gorge. In spite of the difficult acoustic with the waterfall thundering behind it was great for the choir to experience what they had been singing about in rehearsals. We had to cut and run to make it back to Woodend Barn in time for soundcheck .
We loved the space and the floor so much that half of us performed bare foot. Such a treat! The sound in the space was perfectly managed by Simon leaving us to concentrate on the space and the sound. We decided to perform in the round and invite the audience to move around the space.
It felt strange to be performing a Sunday matinee performance and it felt so quiet that during the sound check we almost expected there to be no one there for the performance but the audience did indeed come. The afternoon’s performances kicked off with choreographer Hayley Durward’s piece – a high energy performance which rolled across the space conjuring up the North sea breakers on the Aberdeenshire coast and after all the other amazing performances we had witnessed over the weekend we were slightly apprehensive about how the work would be received but we needn’t have worried. We asked the audience to leave their seats and join us on the floor. We had intended the whole work to last for about 30 min and we had taken pains to create space in the piece. As we were performing it felt like we were speeding through the movements so it was therefore a surprise to find that that we had paced ourselves very well through the work. It seemed like a long way to travel to perform a short performance but from the reaction we received, the generosity of the Woodend Barn and how much the choir enjoyed the excursion we would do it all again.
We would like to perform the work again and we are hoping to arrange a performance in Newcastle alongside Chris’ video work.
Lindsay Duncanson – Noizechoir