Last Saturday, about 25 Santa Cruz and Bay area locals, ranging in age from 7 to 70s, met in Henry Cowell State Park for an all day voice workshop with Indexical’s Artist in Residence, composer and vocalist Carmina Escobar.
Escobar is a vocalist and composer from Mexico City, now based in Los Angeles, with wide-ranging training, from classical and folk music to experimental and improvisation. She is particularly skilled at putting people at ease in an individual or group setting and encouraging the use of their voices and bodies in bold new ways.
For Escobar, the purpose of the The Voices from Within Into the World workshop was to “explore the voice in its manifolds of sonic expressions, its relation to space, and to each other.” The workshop was infused with a sense of play. It started with a warm-up and games involving the whole group together and in pairs.
After eating lunch on the banks of the Garden of Eden swimming hole, Escobar taught participants her practice of Sonic Massage, where several people vocalize through a person’s body. Participants found resonant places on one another’s bodies, exploring the possibility of unique sonic combinations of voices. Each participant got to experience the Sonic Massages as both a subject and as a vocalist. It was an intense emotional and physical experience! The last portion of the workshop consisted of time in small groups in which participants explored space in relationship to one other, culminating in a performance by these small groups in the evening.
Of the workshop, participant Sam Basinger reflected:
Most music instruction is very prescriptive; I loved how Carmina’s focus was finding your own voice and becoming comfortable fully using it. Carmina’s enthusiasm and vocal ingenuity was contagious, and after a couple of hours, the giggles were gone and the whole group was improvising and performing confidently, in ways I’m sure we had previously not thought possible.
Others also emphasized the feeling that the workshop enabled them to “find their voice” in literal and symbolic ways, and that afterwards, they could “speak up” in new ways.
In the workshop, the use of the voice with movement and body exercises contributed to what one participant called an “integrative experience” of their body, mind, and voice.
Participants from the workshop will be featured in Escobar’s upcoming event Feast of Beams/Keepers of Light, which will take place August 10 at Lighthouse Point and along West Cliff Drive.