Two artists come from very different ends of the contemporary and experimental music worlds to meet in a program of invented languages and electronically augmented extended vocal performance. Jaap Blonk, internationally renowned sound poet, electronic musician, and composer based in Holland, performs new work with electronics and augmented voice. Soprano Nina Dante, vocalist with the Chicago-based Fonema Consort, will join a program of scored work by herself as well as composers Aaron Cassidy, Stratis Minakakis, and Pablo Chin.
Blonk’s work builds upon what the early 20th century poet Hugo Ball called “poetry without words,” that is, an arrangement of vocalized sounds that embody “raw orality,” to quote the Canadian sound poet Paul Dutton. His current project is Dr. Voxoid’s Next Move, which writer Kurt Gottschalk explains as his persona of “a professor speaking on the history of sound poetry and falling into the subject.”
Dante’s program stems from the sonic capacities of language; Cassidy’s demanding I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips requires real-time pitch-matching by the vocalist in performance, through a recitation of multiple simultaneous, multilingual texts by Rimbaud and Christian Bök.
Jaap Blonk (born 1953 in Woerden, Holland) is a self-taught composer, performer and poet. He went to university for mathematics and musicology but did not finish those studies. In the late 1970s he took up saxophone and started to compose music. A few years later he discovered his potential as a vocal performer, at first in reciting poetry and later on in improvisations and his own compositions. For almost two decades the voice was his main means for the discovery and development of new sounds. From around the year 2000 on Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis as well. He took a year off of performing in 2006. As a result, his renewed interest in mathematics made him start a research of the possibilities of algorithmic composition for the creation of music, visual work and poetry.
As a vocalist, Jaap Blonk is unique for his powerful stage presence and almost childlike freedom in improvisation, combined with a keen grasp of structure. He has performed around the world, on all continents. With the use of live electronics the scope and range of his concerts has acquired a considerable extension.
Besides working as a soloist, he collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music, like Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the Ebony Band. He premiered several compositions by the German composer Carola Bauckholt, including a piece for voice and orchestra. A solo voice piece was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage. On several occasions he collaborated with visual computer artist Golan Levin, for the Ars Electronica Festival.
Blonk’s work for radio and television includes several commissioned radio plays. He also makes larger-scale drawings of his scores, as well as visual poetry, which is being exhibited.
He has his own record label, Kontrans, featuring a total of 25 releases so far. Other Blonk recordings appeared on various labels, such as Staalplaat, Basta, VICTO, Ecstatic Peace, Monotype Records, Terp and Elegua Records. His book/CD ‘Traces of Speech’ was published in 2012 by Hybriden-Verlag, Berlin. Forthcoming is a sequel with the title “Traces of Cookery”. A comprehensive collection of his sound poetry came out as a book with 2 CDs in 2013, entitled “KLINKT”.
Soprano Nina Dante, a classical chamber musician based in Chicago and NYC, draws deep artistic satisfaction from the continuous rediscovery of the expressive and technical capabilities of the voice in both contemporary and traditional repertoire.
Dante has performed on concert, festivals and as a guest of venues such as National Sawdust’s Original Music Series, the University of Chicago Presents, the Renaissance Society of Chicago, the Goethe Insitut, the City of Chicago’s Loops and Variations, the Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), the Pianoforte Foundation’s Schubertiade, the New Music Miami Festival, Oberlin Conservatory Modern Music Guild series, Experimental Sound Studio’s Outer Ear Series, Chicago’s Frequency Series and Festival, the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneous (Mexico City), Visiones Sonores (Morelia), the Latino Music Festival of Chicago, De música y músicos (Costa Rica), New York’s Performa 15, and LAMPO. In Chicago, she has served as soprano soloist for works such as Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden, Fauré’s Requiem, Schubert’s Mass in G, and the world premiere of Jeff Enns’ Gloria.
Dante is a founding member of the contemporary chamber music ensemble Fonema Consort, which specializes in new chamber music for the voice and instruments. She can be heard on the ensemble’s debut album Pasos en otra calle with label New Focus Recordings, and label Parlour Tapes’ compilation Glitteringadingding: Frequency Series Mixtape. She looks forward to the release of Fonema Consort’s second album in spring 2017 featuring works of young American composers. She is a recipient of honors such as a 2015 DCASE grant, a 2012 CAAPS grant and was a 2014 artist in residence at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts.
Dante is dedicated to educating young musicians on traditional and new classical music. In addition to her private voice and piano studios, she is currently on faculty at Art House Astoria Conservatory; and has led numerous workshops and lectures at institutions such as the University of Chicago, Oberlin Conservatory, UNAM (Mexico City), the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Saint Xavier University, and North Central College.
Dante graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University in 2010, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Performance, where she studied with Sunny Joy Langton and Theresa Brancaccio. From 2008-09, she studied voice and chamber music in Paris at the École normale de musique; and in 2012 she studied and performed at the Darmstadt Courses for New Music, studying voice with Donatienne Michel-Dansac, and working in chamber settings under the tutelage of such recognized soloists/chamber musicians as violinist Graeme Jennings, saxophonist Marcus Weiss and pianist Nicholas Hodges.