This Saturday FAWN Chamber Creative are presenting the first part of Synesthesia IV. Yesterday I sat down with artistic director Amanda Smith and singer Jonathan MacArthur to find out what it’s all about. It’s basically a building block in a longer term project to create a contemporary ballet lyrique. Now normally, for me, this term summons up the ghost of Lully and has me running for the hills humming “diddly, diddly; diddly, twiddly” but Amanda explained that they were using it as shorthand for an extended piece combining vocal music and dance so I calmed down. Now one thing I’ve noticed about FAWN is that they don’t rush works to market. There’s usually an extensive process of workshopping and refining. This ballet lyrique project seems to take that one step further and Synesthesia is a first step along the way.
Synesthesia IV will consist of six choreographed works by different contemporary, Canadian composers. The composers were selected from an open submission with the aim of broadening FAWN’s base beyond the Toronto contemporary music scene. The pieces are all scored for some combination of voice, guitar, cello, percussion and electronics. They will be performed in an art installation created by Kathryn Warner with choreography by Jenn Nichols around a kind of narrative developed by the creative team. To some extent it’s an experiment in how the audience will be most affected by the combination of space, movement and music and audience feedback will be used to select three of the composers for the next phase of the project.
It’s an intriguing approach to creating a potentially genre busting piece that will resonate with FAWN’s established audience. I think, with a bit of luck, it has the potential for much wider appeal. As always, communicating that appeal to a generally conservative audience base will remain a challenge.
Synesthesia IV plays at 221 Sterling Rd. (Studio 5) on Saturday at 7.30pm. Just follow the bread crumbs.