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live@CIRMMT: Laetitia Sonami, Sound Artist and Performer

  • live@CIRMMT
When Mar 09, 2017
from 07:30 PM to 09:00 PM
Where Tanna Schulich Hall, 527 Sherbrooke St W
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Laetitia Sonami, Sound Artist and Performer

Tanna Schulich Hall, Elizabeth Wirth Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke St W

March 9, 2017 @ 7:30-9:00pm

Free Admission


Program / Programme


The work mode is based on an individual "image" illustrated and evoked within each solo. Each musician is guided by his or her personal "image". This provides the essential, letting descriptive words and evocations establish a system of communication as the piece is being elaborated, and through this intuitive-instinctive process, guides the performer to the very essence of music. The process is akin to oral transmission of ancient traditional music.

OCCAM IX inscribes itself in a larger series of compositions entitled OCCAM OCEAN created by composer Eliane Radigue for, and with, instrumentalists and composers. Compositions for harp, violin, viola, bass clarinet, and cello have been created with Rhodri Davis, Carol Robinson, Charles Curtis, amongst others, and received critical acclaim. This ninth composition was created with Laetitia Sonami on electronics with her new instrument, the Spring Spyre. 

Sonami originally studied with Radigue in France in 1976. While her music took on a very different expression through her design of unique controllers and live performance, they both remained very close. In 2011 Sonami requested Radigue to create a piece for her new instrument.

Their meetings took place during the winter 2012 in France after which Radigue gave her permission to premiere the piece in fall 2013.

Breathing in birds and others (2016-17)

Breathing in Birds... has evolved from three years of improvisatory approach with the Spring Spyre (entitled 'Magnetic Memories in the Age of the Oracle'), a process of familiarizing myself with this new instruments, its limitations and demands. After 25 years of playing with the lady's glove, new gestures, processes, and territories had to be explored.

The hardware side of the Spring Spyre is quite lo-tech: a found object, a hacked fader box, and three pick ups taken from reverb tanks. The pick-ups are tied to springs and generate audio when agitated. On the software side, the audio is analyzed and fed to 'Wekinator' - the neural networks designed by Rebecca Fiebrink (Goldsmiths University). The neural nets in turn control the audio synthesis in real time (Max-MSP). The irony is that the springs being somewhat chaotic, the neural nets can never be efficiently trained and the synthesis can be unpredictable. 'Breathing in Birds...' explores this unpredictability and fluidity, akin to smoke volutes disturbed by air.

About Laetitia Sonami

Composer, performer, sonami2and sound installation artist Laetitia Sonami was born in France and settled in the United States in 1975 to pursue her interest in the emerging field of electronic music. She studied with Eliane Radigue, Joel Chadabe, Robert Ashley, and David Behrman.

Her sound performances, live-film collaborations, and sound installations focus on issues of presence and participation. She has devised gestural controllers for performance and applies new technologies and appropriated media to achieve an expression of immediacy through sound, place, and objects. She has performed for 20 years with her lady’s glove, and is now developing a new series of work entitled “Magnetic Memories in the Age of the Oracle” which explores magnetic forces, memory, and archeological deposits of sound layers. Her latest instrument, the Spring Spyre, uses neural networks developed by Rebecca Fiebrink (Goldsmith University).

The trajectory of Sonami’s research is guided by careful attention to the notion of presence in both the staged performative works and its concomitant gesture of embodiment in installations. Exploring invisible media on the electromagnetic plane, Sonami’s unique approach questions the validity of “efficiency” long associated with the medium. She poses a series of questions which invite viewers to discover new behaviors through erratic performance and to project imagined connections onto networks of silent copper.

Sonami’s recent projects include OCCAM IX, a composition created with Eliane Radigue, an improvisation duo, Sparrows and Ortolans with James Fei, and an upcoming installation, le Corps Sonore, at the Rubin Museum in NYC in collaboration with Eliane Radigue and Bob Bielecki. Sonami has performed in numerous festivals across the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and China. She lives in Oakland, California and is a guest lecturer at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College, and the Milton Avery MFA program at Bard College.

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