Music Preview: DARKNESS SOUNDING (Wild Up’s Winter Festival; Your House, Their Houses, & Locations Around L.A. & Joshua Tree)

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by Connor McCormick on January 11, 2021

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles,Virtual


The 2021 installment of Wild Up‘s winter festival, Darkness Sounding (January 15 – February 14, 2021), demonstrates the creative ingenuity for which the L.A.-based new music collective is known. Each winter Wild Up embarks on a new venture, a series set against the darkest days of the year. Last year’s Darkness Sounding pointed the way to fresh models for the concert experience, with a dusk-to-dawn marathon, improvisatory site works, sound baths, text-based events, and more.

Now, as the performing arts are being ‘reimagined’ on a global scale, Wild Up remains a force for innovation as it devises new ways to connect with audiences. Once again, they have devised new ways to connect with audiences, including one-on-one telephone concerts, singing (at a distance) through open windows, a VR recital with prompts from a digital Magic 8 Ball, audio hikes in the Mojave Desert, and more. For listeners worldwide, the schedule also includes a number of “conventional” streaming events, including a sunrise to sunset piano concert.

Artistic Director and Conductor Christopher Rountree notes, “Darkness Sounding started last year as a questioning and yearning for something mindful during the year’s darkest days… Twelve months later, our then-new sacred ‘rituals in the desert’ have become fantasy. Our mundane rituals in home spaces occupy almost the entirety of our focus. Our previous questions about music, and its places making mindfulness and community, seem an impossible distance away from reality, and for that reason, music’s place in our psyche is more important to recognize than ever.”

Tickets for Darkness Sounding will be available through Wild Up’s fan club. For as little as $5 per month, listeners will receive access to all of the festival’s events, plus all existing fan club content to date. For more info and bios, visit Darkness Sounding.

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Friday, January 15 (5pm PT / 8pm ET)
Festival Opening

Gather with festival artists, talk about the future. It’s a zoom for real. It’s friends in a room talking about hope. It’s sad because we’re apart. But, it’ll be great to do something together.

Saturday, January 16 (5pm PT / 8pm ET)
Jiji, Bjornson, Busmire: Aleph, Desert Gaze
world premiere

Guitartists Jiji and Gulli Bjornson, represented by avatars, will improvise to prompts generated by a digital Magic 8 Ball in response to questions from the online audience. The cyber-psychedelic desert space, designed by virtual reality architect Drew Busmire, will remain up online, with drones by the collaborators, for the duration of the festival.

Sunday, January 17 (6:58am PT – 5:08pm PT / 9:58am ET – 8:08pm ET)
richard valitutto, piano: simple lines / quiet music / silent songs

A sunrise-to-sunset (LA time) livestream house concert by valitutto, who will play music of long durations and gentle solitude by Ann Southam, Valentin Silvestrov, Frederico Mompou, Alvin Curran, and many others.

Monday, January 18
sign-ups begin for Chris Kallmyer’s Two hearts are better than one
world premiere

Percussionist/instrument-maker Chris Kallmeyer’s Two hearts are better than one is a work for two wind chimes spread throughout the city of Los Angeles. Each set of wind chimes will be lent to festivalgoers for weeklong listening sessions. The work will run throughout the four-week festival, departing Kallmyer’s workshop on January 18 and circling one another in conversation across the city. The chimes will not meet again until the end of the festival when they are returned to the artist. Those who would like to host the chimes are encouraged to contact

Tuesday, January 26 – Sunday, February 7, by appointment
Holland Andrews, vocals: There You Are

sign-ups begin on Tuesday, January 19, 7am PT / 10am ET –
first come, first served

There You
 Are is a series of micro-performances that take place over the phone. The performances were developed so each chosen participant can feel comfortable and intimately connected to a sound experience that was curated for that single individual as the “audience” at that moment. Andrews, a vocalist and composer, has created a new work which will be emailed to each participant to be played in an available speaker or sound system in their home while Andrews calls them to sing and speak to them. The piece begins with a text message from the artist as an affirmation and invitation for each participant to set an intention for the performance catered to them individually.

Friday, January 22 (5:59am PT + 5:11pm PT)
Saturday, January 23 (5:58am PT + 5:12pm PT)
Sunday, January 24 (5:57am PT + 5:13pm PT)
Andrew McIntosh, violin, viola, piano, electronics:
A moonbeam is just a filtered sunbeam
world premiere

A 58-minute work for violin, viola, piano, field recordings + electronics. Says composer/performer McIntosh, “Moonbeam was created in 2020 out of improvisations on violin, viola, and piano that have been layered, edited, and electronically processed, with field recordings of the wind passing through Bristlecone pines, and a few sounds mixed in from my sample libraries of bowed cymbals, bowed wine glasses, and stones on slate.”

Monday, January 25 (5pm PT / 8pm ET)
Annie Saunders + Emma O’Halloran:
Rest concept film in partnership with EMPAC

Rest, an interactive performance installation, is a collaboration between experimental performance-maker Annie Saunders, composer Emma O’Halloran, Christopher Rountree and Wild Up. Rest looks at multi-sensory experience, the nature of consciousness, the suggestibility of the mind, ‘dopamine fasting’ and sensory deprivation. The piece gives a visceral opportunity to feel and consider what rest means in the modern world. Development and research will include interviews with consciousness experts to conversations with everyday folks talking about their earliest sense memories and their relationships with their smartphones.

*Note: dates may change for these socially-distanced performances listed below

Saturday, February 6 (11 am – 4 pm PST), by appointment
Sunday, February 7* (11 am – 4 pm PST), by appointment
Archie Carey, composer + guide: Desert Sound Visit – world premiere
sign-ups begin Thursday, January 21, 7am PT / 10am ET –
first come, first served

A 40-minute interactive sound experience led by an audio track through different stations on a vast slice of land in Joshua Tree. Listeners will be guided to tune into the silence of the desert landscape, engage with installations on the site, and sink into deep audio, composed for the location. Creating an experience that combines introspective meditation, a journey through the Mojave, and a safe distanced outdoor art experience in a time when our favorite institutions are unavailable.

Thursday, February 11 + Friday, February 12, by appointment
Odeya Nini, vocals: I see you – world premiere
sign-ups begin Wednesday, January 20, 7am PT / 10am ET
– first come, first served

I see you is a series of private five-minute solo vocal performances for one household at a time, at a safe distance outside their home.

Friday, January 30 (6:52am PT): Marta Tiesenga
Saturday, February 13 (4:45pm PT): Eliza Bagg
Sunday, February 14 (4:45 pm PT): Christopher Rountree
Quick Response Shows – world premieres

Three musical treasure hunts, out in nature by three composer/performers – Marta Tiesenga, Eliza Bagg, and Christopher Rountree – who have created audio works that can be retrieved at different times in parks and other locations around Los Angeles via QR (Quick Response) codes on smartphones.

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