Amaranth Borsuk's libretto "The Familiar Spirit" performed at live virtual concert INTERSPACE


On June 5 virtual concertgoers experienced haunting sounds and images emanating from their screens during INTERSPACE, a unique live-streamed concert experience combining new choral compositions and electronic music. A live performance tailored to virtual delivery, the concert featured 7 works designed to showcase the powerful beauty of latency, layers, loops, and textures and was a collaboration between LA-based choral collective C3LA and electroacoustic music collective People Inside Electronics (PIE). 

Mingling pre-recorded elements with live vocals, on-the-fly audio processing, and audience participation, the concert included a special performance of "The Familiar Spirit," a work by composer Isaac Schankler based on a sequence of poems by IAS faculty member Amaranth Borsuk. The work explores the intersection of technology and the body at the birth of the spiritualist movement, bringing to life the moment on March 31, 1848 when sisters Margaret and Catherine Fox reported strange knockings in the night from a spirit they called "Mr. Splitfoot" seeking to communicate with the living. For this performance a live chorus was accompanied by visuals Schankler created in collaboration with Ryan Murdock's machine learning algorithm, BigSleep, which generated uncanny and surreal imagery based on the text.

The livestreamed concert is now available online. Those wishing to read the text can check out the program from the work's debut performance by Boston's Lorelei Ensemble.

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