This scene is from the choral oratorio “Six Feet Apart,” a Rogue Valley-based multimedia production of Oregon pandemic stories which premiered on August 29. Screenshot by video designer Camilla Tallis.
Video designer and director Camilla Tassi produced the multimedia performance of “Six Feet Apart”. Courtesy photo
The Los Angeles-based HEX ensemble has been expanded to 12 singers for “Six Feet Apart” produced by Rogue Valley. The main group, from left to right, is made up of Molly Pease, David Conley, Laurel Irene, James Hayden, director Fahad Siadat and Saunder Choi. Irene and Siadat are from Ashland. Courtesy photo
Betty LaDuke, renowned artist from Ashland, contributed art for the “Six Feet Apart” project. Courtesy photo
photo courtesy of Ethan Gans-Morse, co-founder of Anima Mundi Productions, wrote most of the booklet for “Six Feet Apart”.
Courtesy Photo Tioziana DellaRovere, co-founder of Anima Mundi Productions, composed the music for “Six Feet Apart”.
A massive multimedia choral oratorio from Anima Mundi Productions, a Rogue Valley-based nonprofit, will be presented online to provide inspiration and healing as Oregonians battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Six Feet Apart: Stories of Resilience and Transformation” harnesses the power of music, poetry and the visual arts to present a diverse collection of stories from the Oregon pandemic. It will have its world premiere online at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 29, with a question-and-answer session to follow.
AMP is the same organization that launched a 2019 painted piano festival, “Pianos for Peace Oregon,” in partnership with Atlanta-based Pianos for Peace.
The music and poetry of “Six Feet Apart” was created by Ethan Gans-Morse and Tiziana DellaRovere. They are AMP founders, artistic collaborators and a married couple residing in Phoenix.
“We wanted to amplify diverse voices and foster collective healing in Oregon and beyond during the pandemic,” Gans-Morse said.
The Almeda fire added to the suffering already created by COVID-19, and the stories reflect how people have coped with both.
“To my surprise,” said DellaRovere, “when I was interviewing for these stories, people thanked me for listening and said they felt relieved just by telling me about their trauma.”
The project was a big undertaking.
AMP spent a year collecting stories and conducting interviews. From these interviews, DellaRovere wrote a booklet comprising seven poems. These poems and two guest submissions from Oregon poet laureates Anis Mojgani and Kim Stafford were set to music by Gans-Morse for choir and piano trio.
Fifteen professional musicians recorded the music remotely, each independent of their home.
“They recorded themselves on video as well as audio,” Gans-Morse said, “so we see on screen that the singers themselves are in quarantine, singing about the people in quarantine.”
An audio team from Los Angeles mixed and mastered the audio. Filmmaker Camilla Tassi produced the film / music video for the multimedia performance which will premiere on August 29. It includes images of the people whose stories are shared, musicians, videos of the fire, and specially created artwork.
The HEX ensemble and the Brightwork New Music Ensemble, both based in LA, perform the work.
HEX Ensemble is normally made up of six singers but has been expanded to 12 for this project. He has performed with the LA Opera, LA Philharmonic, LA Master Chorale, The Industry and other leading organizations. The LA Times called HEX soprano Laurel Irene “downright superhuman” and “just plain stunning.” Irene and another member, Fahad Siadat, are from Ashland.
Brightwork, a Grammy-nominated classical new music sextet, provided a piano trio for the production, consisting of Aron Kallay on piano; Shalini Vijayan, violin; and Maggie Parkins, cello.
Betty LaDuke, a renowned artist and writer who lives in Ashland, provided illustrations for “Six Feet Apart”.
Poetry forms the libretto. After several interviews, DellaRovere wrote two poems as bookends – a prologue and an epilogue – which frame the work. Inside the oratorio are five other original poems by her and two poems by the winning poets, all based on the stories collected.
One of the poems is based on submissions from college students in Portland.
The stories are as varied as the people of Oregon. Here are some examples :
A Latina farm worker struggles to feed her family as the pandemic begins.
The situation worsens for a homeless woman living near Ashland when her shelter burns down in the Almeda fire.
A couple who got married during the pandemic are planning their wedding on Zoom after losing their home in Talent to fire.
A young community leader who tried to organize a support event for young people of color in rural Oregon during the pandemic ends up organizing a rally for racial justice due to the rejection of her program.
Choral works are not new to AMP. Gans-Morse and DellaRovere started the nonprofit about 10 years ago with an opera, “The Song of the Black Madonna,” which the Oregonian called “a huge achievement” and “generous, carefully crafted. and extremely compassionate “.
They have since created three additional operas, a program symphony in collaboration with the Rogue Valley Symphony and their Heart of Humanity series of which “Six Feet Apart” is a part.
Contributors to “Six Feet Apart” included Kim Lesley from the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Mara Liechtenstein from HB Lee Middle School in Portland, and the Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity.
“We reached out to many Oregon nonprofits to help us collect stories in their communities,” Gans-Morse said.
World premiere tickets are “pay what you want”, starting at $ 12, available online at humantickets.com. Performances thereafter on their website are free.
“We use YouTube as our streaming platform,” Gans-Morse said. “So no one has to fear technical challenges. If you can watch a YouTube video, you can watch our concerts. But we embed them on our website so that we can include program notes and other background material.
Other AMP concerts can also be found on the website. Normally, AMP concerts are played at SOU Music Recital Hall, but due to the pandemic, the 2020-21 season is posted online.
Contact Ashland writer Jim Flint at [email protected]