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Ars Nova in The Tank

Reverberations from Tom Morgan, Artistic Director

It’s a magical space: a seven-story steel cylinder with a slightly concave, bowed floor which gives it a lush, enduring resonance. The final performance of our 2022-2023 concert season was under the rising full moon on June 3 at The Tank Center for Sonic Arts on the western slope, about a 5-hour drive from the metro area. You can read more about The Tank in last week’s news post; Ars Nova is the largest ensemble to have performed there, and we’ll be releasing recordings from this concert in the weeks to come.

We positioned the choir in an almost-complete circle, which made for challenging video camera angles, but provided some really great surround-sound audio. We adapted our program repertoire to this unique space: the reverberations are so long-lasting that many elements of the music overlap, and some ‘special effects’ are possible. You can see and hear one example of this at the end of the video below: in this space, it’s possible to completely hide a cut-off at the end of a section or a piece within the reverb of the room.

With choral groups around the world we are celebrating the great English composer William Byrd, who died 400 years ago next month, on July 4, 1623. This spring we’ve performed two movements of his magnificent Mass for 5 Voices, one of the great monuments of the a cappella repertoire. His masses were written in secret and published in very small books (without title pages), as they were considered subversive Roman Catholic works in an England that was at the time quite militantly protestant. That this music has survived, and for us to perform and record it after 400 years in an abandoned water tank on the other side of the world…truly astonishing. I think Byrd would be pleased.