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Hysterical and Happy. Musarc at LCMF, 19 June 2022

Workshop Programme

719 Jun 2022
School of Art, Architecture and Design, LondonMet



Sunday 19 Jun 2022, 7pm


Musarc, mostly, hysterical and happy, post-performance at LCMF 2022. Photo: Dawid Laskowski

On 19 June 2022, Musarc filled the hall with the hallucinatory, transcendental clouds of sound of Gaelic psalm-singing which Musarc brought to life and radically re-interpreted with new texts written by the choir:

‘People brought text passages from the Big Sad bibliography we put together and gave each other reading gifts. We wrote in the sessions (shared Google doc, friendly destruction) and then more poems and late night edits, remixing, constellating. Ian had a go at rhyming it and editing it some more. Then I went in and messed it all up again so now we have these exquisite corpse poems that throw you from one thing into the next, brittle and a bit unwieldy, sadness and melancholy being the starting point, …

There are around ten or so psalm melodies that are commonly sung in this tradition. We are using Kilmarnock and Martyrdom. Both are written in four parts. But in Gaelic psalm-singing you just sing the melody – and you do it in this particular way that leaves no silence, where the congregation alternates with a leader (the ‘precenter’) who introduces each line of the psalm. The singers add their own private grace notes, each interval like a small itinerancy, pushing the sound forward in a slow-moving, choral procession.’ (Kohlmaier)

The project, led by Musarc’s creative director Joseph Kohlmaier with acclaimed vocalist and long-time Musarc collaborator Melanie Pappenheim, offered an opportunity to join the ensemble for a three-week workshop and rehearsal programme culminating in a performance at the closing event of the Festival on Sunday 19 June 2022, 7pm. The rehearsal programme combined learning to sing in the Gaelic psalm singing tradition – also known as ‘lining out’, or ‘precenting the line’ – with exercises from Melanie Pappenheim’s extensive and unique repertoire of vocal performance workshop materials.