høle in the skY

zeitgeist new music quartet & kathy mctavish

last passenger pigeon she slipped away forever into sky through iron bars into blue ...


Upcoming Performances

September 27, 7:00 pm

Gimaajii Mino Bimaadizyann Community Center
(“Together we are beginning a good life”)

Installation in the old gymnasium

202 W. 2nd Street
Duluth, MN 55802

Suggested Donation: $5

Join St. Paul's Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble, composer Kathy McTavish and poet Sheila Packa for a Duluth performance of the new chamber work: høle in the skY. On this night we will present this media installation / live performance / discussion in fusion with radiø plutø artists:

  • Julie Gard
  • Rocky Makes Room
  • Kathy McTavish
  • Katelynn Monson
  • Sheila Packa
  • Kathleen Roberts
  • Richie Townsend
  • Jake Vainio

Past Performances

May 16, 7:30 pm

May 17, 7:30 pm (double feature with ørigin of birds)

May 18, 2:00 pm

@ the studio z : st. paul, mn (facebook link)

buy tickets here

about the project

I created an early sketch of this work for the 2013 Zeitgeist Composer Workshop funded by the Jerome Foundation. This opportunity "is a five-day workshop designed to give emerging composers the opportunity to develop creative ideas and stretch their artistic boundaries in an environment that celebrates exploration and experimentation."

With further funding provided by The American Composers Forum JFund and the Minnesota State Arts Board we have expanded the early sketch into a larger work that was first shown live May 16-18 at Studio Z. This work was also released online in early May. A Duluth performance and workshop were held at the end of September.

With this score for Zeitgeist, my goal was to create an immersive sound / video story world - to create a landscape for them to wander, resist, narrate, change. Zeitgeist has over 30 years of experience bringing new music to life. They are experienced improvisational musicians and they often work with non-traditional scores. The Composer Workshop provided an experimental space for exploring new forms and developing new work. It provided time and space for collaborative exploration in which the piece could evolve / transform / distill. I am grateful to Zeitgeist for sharing their creativity and rich soundscape with me. I took sound samples / core samples from our initial time together that I layered back into the larger fabric of the piece to create a geologic record / layered memory. This is an animated, open, shifting story created by our collaborative process. Various iterations are available online.

For the live performance of høle in the skY, I created a text / video / minimalist sound installation - a landscape - that encloses the 4 musicians. The core story revolves around planetary climate change / extinction. Specifically, the core text comes from a book I wrote in 2012 called: "night train / blue window" about the last passenger pigeon, Martha, who died in the Cincinatti Zoo September 1, 1914. Another text is laced throughout the piece in counterpoint. It is the story of a girl growing up on the Iron Range of Minnesota. This text is from the book: "Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range" by Sheila Packa. It provides an intimate human voice in a sea of rapid climactic change.

As a composer, improvisational cellist and installation artist, I am interested in the ways we stain each other. I am drawn to episodic stories, evolving myths, wandering installations, shifting landscapes, phantom exhibits, street music, ephemeral / improvisational / vanishing spaces, inarticulate languages, loose collaborations ... the infinite between. høle in the skY is part of a larger wandering, episodic journey I took for about a year called radiø plutø / the schøol of impermanence. I think of this as a collaborative story caravan. I drew inspiration for the form from things like the Arabian Nights / Canterbury Tales or from loosely structured grassroots movements like idle no more. This journey was enriched by collaborations with cross-disciplinary artists that I worked with along the way. I kept thinking about story looms, the act of weaving ... or graffiti.

thank you

The høle in the skY project is funded in part by the American Composers Forum JFund.

Kathy McTavish is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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