Soprano Nina Dante had a few minutes to talk about her group Fonema Consort’s upcoming return to NY on Friday, June 14 at 8 PM. The show is part of the Permutations new music series, and the proceeds of this show go to funding the group’s upcoming season.
CM: Please talk about this concert series and the ensemble’s history with it.
Nina: Permutations hold a special place in our hearts as an ensemble, as both Fonema Consort and Permutations were founded around the same time and were one of each others first ventures. The first couple of years in the life of an organization are so formative while mission and aesthetic evolve and clarify, so it has been a very exciting thing for us to watch each other in this journey.
Permutations founder Ravi Kittappa invited us to perform on Permutations just over a year ago, which was in effect Fonema’s NYC debut concert. It was here that we first collaborated with the wonderful Miranda Cuckson (violin/viola), with whom we have been so lucky to collaborate several times since then.
We love the vibe of Permutations: the venue is an intimate and atmospheric space with Persian rugs and long wooden tables covered with candles, which puts you in a mood for deep listening and at the same time opens the door to interaction with the audience and mingling during breaks and after the show. I recently interviewed Ravi Kittappa about the series for Fonema’s Blog, so if you would like a bit more in-depth look into this fantastic series, check it out here.
CM: What can we look forward to at this show?
Nina: Fonema’s Artistic Director Pablo Chin cooked up an intense program for voices and flute designed specifically to exploit Permutations’ atmosphere- I must say, this is one of my favorite programs of the year. We are very excited to be collaborating with NYC vocalist Megan Schubert for this concert- she will join us in song for the world premiere of the outstanding young Catalan composer Joan Arnau Pàmies‘ work for three voices, as well as Pascal Dusapin’s Two Walking, a deliciously bizarre setting Gertrude Stein’s surrealistically erotic poems. Nathalie Colas and I will be giving a performance of Kaija Saariaho’s untethered “From the Grammar of Dreams”. A bit of Fonema history trivia: it was the very first voice duo we programmed as an ensemble back in February 2012. Having so much time to think about a piece brings depth to the performance, so we can’t wait to see what happens with this beautiful work in performance this Friday.
Fonema’s flautist, Dalia Chin, will perform works for both piccolo and bass flute on this concert. We are quite excited to see her navigate the extremes of her instrument- she is master of both! Dalia and Nathalie’s rendition of Beat Furrer’s “Invocation VI” for soprano and bass flute is an experience not to be missed.
Nina: Oh, I love this question. Personally as a musician, it means a great deal to me to be able to work with experienced performers whose work I believe in- there is so much to be learned from them! Something that I really admire about Megan’s work is her honest theatricality, which gives wing to her beautiful voice. It is difficult to achieve freedom in performance as she does, so her work is very inspiring to me. I am looking forward to embark on this collaboration with her!
CM: Is the group going to be making any CDs in the future?
Nina: No official information on this yet, but… Yes, absolutely! Part of the mission of Fonema Consort is to foster close collaboration with composers in whose music we deeply believe, giving them the opportunity to explore writing for voice(s) with instruments, an instrumentation full of dramatic possibilities and a wide range of timbres. Recording projects are a fantastic way to deepen a musician’s understanding of the music, which facilitates meaningful performance, and for us would be a more far-reaching method of bringing to light the work of composers whose music we crave to perform. Fonema Consort was founded after the doctoral recital of Pablo Chin, our artistic director and a composer whose profound and beautiful music has captivated our imagination. We think it would be appropriate and fulfilling to base our first recording project on his works for voice. Please stay tuned!