SoundBites

Calgary Boys’ Choir featured in Nuit Blanche Calgary

Berlin-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay included members of the Calgary Boys' Choir (of which he is a former member) in his Nuit Blanche Calgary sound installation.
Berlin-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay included members of the Calgary Boys’ Choir (of which he is a former member) in his Nuit Blanche Calgary sound installation.

Members of the Calgary Boys’ Choir are playing a starring role in Nuit Blanche Calgary this Saturday night.

And they have artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay to thank for it.

Nemerofsky is a former Calgary Boys’ Choir member (1984-87) and his sound installation, The Lovers, features the recorded voices of three local choir singers.

Nemerofsky says his experience singing with the Calgary Boys Choir stuck with him.

“The choir played a major role in my development as a creative and musical person,” said Nemerofsky.

“My artistic work often involves singing, so when I was invited to produce a new work for Nuit Blanche Calgary I immediately thought about including the Calgary Boys’ Choir in my project.”

Nuit Blanche is the sunset-to-late night contemporary arts festival featuring 10 free performance art events from 7-10 p.m. downtown’s Olympic Plaza and Civic Plaza Parkade Park Saturday, Sept. 20.

Nemerofsky’s The Lovers is a spatialized sound installation broadcast through a series of speakers throughout the park. It involves singers mimicking the sounds of bells, transmitting a message word by word that the audience can slowly decode.

It’s not the first time Nemerofsky has used voices to mimic sounds: he used a Vienna Boys’ Choir singer to stand in for an air raid siren in a past performance here.

Calgary Boys’ Choir director Paul Grindlay says working with Nemerofsky was a great experience.

“Benny had been seeing details about the Calgary Boys’ Choir’s 40th anniversary a couple of seasons ago, and it seems that we were in his mind when he found out about being able to do this project for Nuit Blanche in Calgary,” said Grindlay.

The project provided a unique learning experience for the choristers.

“It was an interesting assignment for the boys,” said Grindlay. “In some ways very simple, yet repetitive and exacting as they had to sing the same syllable many times with the ring and cadence of a bell chime. In a sense they were providing Benny with the audio-building-blocks that he will use to assemble the larger composition. It seems that the drawn out delivery of the text is designed to encourage listeners to slow down, linger and listen, to slip into a different realm of time.”

Sherri Zickefoose, Sept. 25, 2014

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