Linsey Pollak (breath controlled animal calls) & Lizzie O’Keefe (voice)
‘Dangerous Song’ is a performance piece that combines the human voice with the sounds of endangered and extinct animals to create an intriguing and moving musical performance. This musical collaboration between Linsey and Lizzie has created a new musical language with structured, yet very free improvisation at it’s core. It takes us to a world of sound where the human and the animal combine. A sort of sonic morphing. Linsey plays animal calls using a midi wind controller where breath, lip pressure and fingering control real animal call samples. He uses Live looping technology to instantaneously record layers of music as he plays. Lizzie joins him weaving her voice in and out of the musical landscape of animal sounds.
ONCE UPON A TIME …
“Once upon a time there was a planet called Earth. During many millions of years a rich, complex and beautiful ecosystem developed with an incredible variety of lifeforms. Over time one of the animal species in this ecosystem became dominant and their impact on the planet was so massive that many of the other species could no longer survive and became extinct. We take up the story during this extinction period, but the story is not told with words, as words have fallen on too many deaf ears for too long and people have stopped listening. The story is told through sound, through the voices of the animals themselves that are endangered. These animal calls speak directly to the heart in a way that words cannot. They are joined by one lone human voice, a voice of empathy, using no words but conversing and intertwining with the calls of the animals. There is no narrative, we already know most of the story, even if we choose to ignore it and don’t know the ending. So this piece is a song for the Planet, an inter-species choral work, and they’re singing for their lives! If their calls don’t affect you then nothing will.”
4 DIFFERENT SHOWS:
1. Concert mode
Linsey and Lizzie perform Dangerous Song as a concert in numerous different settings, ranging from intimate house concerts to large concert halls and even in outdoor settings. They also provide a totally immersive experience to a maximum of 14 people who are wearing headphones. During these concerts Linsey and Lizzie will also talk about the specific species whose calls are used to create the music. This helps give context to the audience.
2. Dangerous Song – blue
received its world premiere at Woodford Folk Festival in December 2016. The work aims to connect our hearts with the planet’s heart through the combination of endangered animal calls with the human voice and stunning underwater cinematography by David Hannan (Ocean Ark Alliance). These moving images are projected onto a large aquarium like scrim where the two performers seem to be creating music from within these extraordinary underwater scenes. ‘Dangerous Song – blue’ provides environmental and conservation reef and ocean organisations with an inspiring and emotional tool for connecting our hearts to this important global issue.
3. Songs of Emzara
History often neglects ‘HerStory’, and the stories of The Great Flood were no exception. Indeed, it was Emzara who prophesied the Great Flood and saw the need for an Ark that could carry 2 members of as many species as possible to save them from certain extinction. But we know little of her story.
Emzara was a renowned singer and story teller. Even as a young child she was always very self-possessed and was often found conversing with animals, which made many people quite wary of her. Already at 4 years of age she rode wild horses and had no fear of any animal and they in turn had no fear of her. She communicated with animals through song and these songs were in turn passed on to her daughters, granddaughters and so on. These were the ‘Songs of Emzara’.
‘Songs of Emzara’ is a tribute to 16 species who at this moment struggle for their survival – the Indri Indri, the Black Crested Gibbon, Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo, Blakiston’s Fish Owl, the Booroolong Frog, the Blue throated Macaw ….to name a few. They are the characters that will take Centrestage, it is their voices that you will hear, voices that will touch your heart.
‘Songs of Emzara’ is performed by Lizzie O’Keefe and Linsey Pollak. They combine the human voice with the sounds of endangered animals. Linsey uses breath, lip pressure and fingering to play animal calls while Lizzie weaves her voice in and out of this musical landscape. The animal protagonists are present through their voices as well as in the still and moving images projected onto the performers.
4. Dangerous Song & Bukhu
The incredible Mongolian overtone throat singing of Bukhchuluun Ganburged. Looped sounds of endangered species played on a digital wind instrument by Linsey Pollak and the extraordinary voice of Lizzie O’Keefe.
‘Dangerous Song’ is Linsey Pollak and Lizzie O’Keefe. Linsey plays endangered animal calls using a digital wind instrument. He ‘live loops’ layers of music using those animal sounds. Lizzie O’Keefe is an incredibly versatile singer with an unbelievable range and an absolutely beautiful voice. She works across genres and is an extraordinary improviser. This is a musical journey that takes us into a world of sound where the human and the animal combine, a sort of sonic morphing – a new musical language with structured, yet very free improvisation at its core.
In this project they are joined by Bukhchuluun Ganburged (Bukhu) who is a master musician performing the folk music of Mongolia, and exploring the aural dimensions of sounds generated by traditional instruments and harmonic overtone vocal techniques. Bukhu combines virtuosic Morin Khuur (Horse Head Fiddle) and Khuumii (Harmonic Overtone Throat Singing). Bukhu’s music has a contemporary take on the tradition of Mongolian bards of ancient times.
The combination of these three musicians is extraordinary with two very different but totally enchanting voices floating in a bed of sound created by the sounds of Humpback Whales, Giant Lemurs, Gibbons and other animal calls as well as Bukhu’s incredible Horsehead fiddle.
“Dangerous Song is sublime – “meditative”, “magnificent” and “sacred” were words spoken by so many. After the show, after the applause had died down, people didn’t move – a hushed reverence and feeling of transformation had taken over, and no one wanted to lose it. This is the most poignant, delicate and exceptionally beautiful work of art – a magical, empathetic, absorption into nature. Get there today if you can – this is genuinely world class. Congratulations Linsey, Lizzie, Bonnie & Jenny – this work deserves a very long and far-reaching season.”
“Absolutely incredible!! So wonderful to see something so powerful, authentic and unique. It really touches my heart. Thank you so much for what you are doing.”
“Linsey Pollak and Lizzie O’Keefe’s stunning performance is poised, professional, and powerful.
The lighting by Andrew Meadows is refined and pure. In the black box of the theatre and with both performers wearing black clothes, light shines the focus on faces and hands and instrument. It’s mesmerising. And then the eye of the whale appears as the sea and all its creatures wrap all around the performers. They appear in the midst of so many projections of macro- and micro-cosms across the elements of land and sea and sky. Bone-like, unknown micro creatures contrast with the crawling of spiders; a medicine wheel, dreamcatcher of flora slowly decomposes and then the universe of stars circles around the song; fish are replaced with the stranger beauty of plastic bags and sobs rack out across the theatre. It’s a moment of infinite sadness that is replaced by the accusing gaze of a close relative; Linsey and Lizzie’s faces are positioned in its eyes; and the performance finishes under the soundscape of the crested gibbon.
There is hope, perhaps, that such spellbinding depth and consummate sharing of this song of the earth, will change our human priorities back to a connection with this fragile world and all its inhabitants. That we might become prepared to reject the wealth of economics for the deeper richness of the many valued creatures of this planet.”
“This event was not about the musician’s or singer’s technique, though both were masterful, or the audience as mere spectators. This experience was a joint exploration of our relationship with the natural world. The power of the merging of the human and animal cries had a visceral effect on all of us. Looking around at one time I could see that many of us had closed our eyes and moved into a meditative state to live for that moment totally present to the music.
Lizzie’s pure tones and harmonics, sometimes through delicious dissonance, bridged the natural world and brought us to the heart of the disappearing life on our planet: a conduit more direct than any lecture or documentary. Linsey’s echoing and playful juggling of bird and animal cries, closely partnering with Lizzie’s vocals, connected us directly with the drama of extinction. What follows from this connection is an expansion of our consciousness around this issue.
It is amazing how many sounds stay with you: wolf, frog, cockatoo, macaw, whale, seal, gorilla. Their cries are cries for help, yet the beauty of the sound they set free in the world is a wonderful thing to be celebrated and makes their disappearance even more heart rending. “
“Honestly that was one of the most unique and beautiful shows II have ever been too. It was a true privilege to see it live and up close. This should go global! “