Black Bawl by LABOUR and Richard Kennedy | 2021
Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

Black Bawl is an operatic suite in 6 movements, a freely atonal work for piano, electronics, and voice, that draws partial inspiration from Arnold Schönberg's Suite für Klavier (op. 25) and also his formal technique of 'developing variation' as aesthetic starting points.

I. Overture
II. Black Bawl
III. Prophecy
IV. I cried / They cried
V. Siren
VI. Epilogue (Black Magic...)

The first movement briefly introduces the piano and harmonic palette, while the second movement provides the exposition — a duet of voice and piano. The third and fourth movements witness journeys of transformation, engaging electronic processing of short vocal fragments as starting points in processes — including algorithmic techniques to create pointillistic sonic events and temporal offsets, then FX chains of granulation, reverberation, and extremely fast panning that leads to amplitude modulation – as the harmonic development of temporary pitch centers juxtapose the earlier atonality, preluding the coming non-tonality. Discrete transformations continue in the fifth movement with 'the siren' in all its evocations including that of warning or alert, of mythological seduction, and of glissandi, before the sixth movement's closing statement of the solo voice.

LABOUR composed this music using the piano of Ernst Toch while in residency at the Villa Aurora Los Angeles.

by: Richard Kennedy & LABOUR - Black Bawl
directed by: Richard Kennedy and Marcelo Alcaide
written, performed and choreographed by: Richard Kennedy
music by: LABOUR
electronics by: Farahnaz Hatam
piano by: Colin Hacklander
vocals & lyrics by: Richard Kennedy
photography and edit: Mathilde Agius
scenography: Marcelo Alcaide
costumes: Richard Kennedy
hair: Sean Bennett
make up: Ana Lima
assistance: Mel Powell
thanks to: Camilla Volbert, Peres Projects, Villa Aurora, 711 Berlin, and Tiana Strickland.

This piece was presented at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève for the final edition of REIF’s sonic Catharsis in 2022.

Black Bawl is a co-production by REIF and Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève for the 5th floor with the support of Nike Berlin.

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