Geneva Sound Poetry Events
Date: Fri,4 Oct 1996
From: Ward Tietz (100723.3166@COMPUSERVE.COM)
Subject: Geneva Sound Poetry Events

I'm sorry I'm so late with this, but here's a brief summary of the "festival de la Batie" sound poetry events I said I'd post, which were held in Geneva, Switzerland on September 13th, 14th and 15th.

It was a very enjoyable festival. There was a nice mix of work, performed text, recording-enhanced material, theatrical/linguistic and looser happening-style performance. The entire "festival de la Batie" was very well organized and publicized, with posters, catalogs, all over Geneva and also in neighboring France.

Roger Lewinter held a conference/reading on Mallarme on the 13th. I heard part of it in rehearsal, but missed the performance, so I can't say much more. I heard, though, that Mallarme devotees enjoyed it.

The performances of September 14th were quite memorable. The highlight, I thought, was Bernard Heidsieck who gave what was probably the most complete literary performance I've ever seen. As Mark McMorris said, it's surprising Heidsieck isn't better known in the U.S. He has an elegance and presence in performance that's quite rare.

Amanda Stewart performed some very nice pieces, technically accomplished and varied in an almost classic sound poetry style, with a lot of phonemic emphasis and speed. Some of her pieces had a more textual base and displayed a more writerly character, which made for an interesting contrast.

Guenther Ruch and Juergen Olbrich performed an action based piece with interaction via phone and fax. They placed phone calls to designated participants, which were broadcast to the audience, received faxes throughout the performance, and performed a variety of sound actions involving velcro, the hammering of spaghetti, the destruction of a cuckoo clock, etc. Their piece had some very curious and successful moments.

The performances of the 15th were also quite varied. The evening started off with Christian Uetz. He performed most of his pieces in High German, with sections in Swiss German dialect, a few pieces in French and then also a few in German, French and English, all it seemed from memory. His work was very athletic with a lot of twist and speed. It seemed to work especially well in German.

Mark McMorris and I performed second. Our piece "Accompong" combined elements of the languages of the Jamaican Maroons, along with the use of various large three-dimensional letter-rubrics that had been constructed out of steel and wood. The performance joined action to voice to rubric: interacting with the letters, rocking them, carrying them, hitting them, and so on, while speaking, reading, or shouting. Mark's performance of the Nyankopong section of the piece, which Mark performed while balancing a 90 pound steel "M", his head in the "V" of the "M" on a waist-high wooden "H", was mysterious and beautiful.

Julie Patton's performance was very well received. A lot of people enjoyed her blusey, jazzy rhythms and it was a pleasant reminder to have music so strongly allied with speech rhythms. The pieces that emphasized her voice were very nice, especially the passages which had speech moving in and out of song.

Bob Cobbing and Hugh Metcalfe rounded out the evening with a sound performance extravaganza. They were wonderfully wild, brilliant, awful, funny, wise, stupid, scary, and best of all comfortable and at ease. Bob Cobbing's singing is a wonder. It's difficult to know exactly where it comes from, but then it's there, and it's wonderful; no words, just grumbly sounds, with drums, bells and other instrumentation mixed in. Hugh Metcafle's musical improvisations were perfect accompaniment.

Ward Tietz