ABU DHABI, (Pakistan Point News – 23rd Mar, 2021) The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has announced it will present the world premiere of a unique choral piece, The Gauntlet: Faraway Together on 31st March at 8 pm. Centreed around voices from Abu Dhabi, the intimate audio experience, created by Coco Karol and Sxip Shirey, immerses audiences in waves of harmony, poetry, and gesture.
Each version of The Gauntlet is composed and staged for its specific location. The Abu Dhabi edition marks the first time the composition has been re-conceived as a 360-degree spatialised audio piece. Originally planned as an in-person event for spring 2020 as a site-specific piece, in this case, the “site” is the listener’s headphones, accessible online. Dancer, choreographer, and artist Coco Karol remotely interviewed 18 diverse members of the Abu Dhabi community, using a self-developed, specialised process of “movement interviews.” The texts of these interviews form the basis of the libretto.
The unique sound artwork has been brought to life by the NYUAD Choral Ensemble under the direction of NYUAD Lecturer of Music Clare Lesser. Each individual vocal recording was transformed into an immersive, spatialised audio experience for audience members to experience through closed-back headphones.
The premiere will be followed by a live online Q&A with co-creators Coco Karol and Sxip Shirey, moderated by Arts Centre executive artistic director Bill Bragin and director of artistic planning Linsey Bostwick. Shirey will also lead a Creator’s Workshop: Object Oriented Composition on March 30 at 6:30pm, where he explores how music can be composed with everyday objects.
Commenting on the piece, Shirey said, “It has been an incredible experience working with the staff, students and community of Abu Dhabi to create The Gauntlet: Faraway Together. Our disappointment at not being able to create and perform in a live space has turned into excitement and humbleness. Excitement over the new process with spatial audio, and humbleness over the stories of the Abu Dhabi community. We all are individuals living in the choir of our community. We hope that The Gauntlet is a way that encourages us to hear the choir clearer.”
Co-creator Coco Karol added, “At the heart of Sxip’s work is an idea I really love that ‘everyone’s intimate experience is epic to them,’ and I think we have achieved something special and connective by keeping the “togetherness” while being so far away. The process to make The Gauntlet was entirely virtual, yet it has felt both intimate and epic. We feel so close to NYUAD, The Arts Centre, and participating communities because of the commitment to the work and process from everyone involved.”
Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Centre at NYUAD Bill Bragin said, “The unique approach to the creation of The Gauntlet: Far Away Together represents a creative response by The Arts Centre and the artists to move a signature project forward despite numerous obstacles preventing its creation and performance in the way we originally intended. Sxip and Coco have been incredibly flexible and resilient in their approach, and included The Arts Centre in their process as creative collaborators in unprecedented ways. The dedication and vision of everyone involved has resulted in a bold, new approach to the construction and presentation of this piece.”