Sirens (for two sopranos, mezzo-soprano and pre-recorded track); text adapted from James Russell Lowell
(Duration – 32 minutes)
Commissioned by Heidi Duckler Dance Theater, July 2017.
Sirens was written for an unusual project – a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Heidi Duckler Dance theatre, LA Opera, the Los Angeles Marine Institute and AltaSea. Written for a site-specific performance on tall ships in San Pedro harbor, the cycle features singers over an electronic track incorporating samples of birds and whales to evoke a haunting marine soundscape.
The work tells a story that on the surface is about sirens luring sailors to their death, but on a deeper level is about the insidious attractiveness of single-use-plastic culture and the impact that has on the ocean environment. At the core of the piece is a dichotomy; the siren’s voices representing a culture that thrives on plastics and pollution, against manipulated whale and bird sounds that represent the voice of the ocean. As the work moves from beginning to end, two journeys take place: the sirens slip from their initial, deceptive beauty to a harsh soundworld that represents their destructiveness; and the sounds of the ocean move from background to foreground, overwhelming the singers to become the predominant voice.