Previously in 2010, also at the Design Museum in London, I performed in a newly built installation by the architect John Pawson. This was a more ‘contained’ performance in that I chose to sing parts of classical songs, some of which were from the ‘Hermit Songs’ by the American composer Samuel Barber. The texts here were from words written by monks in the in the margins of 9th and 12th century manuscripts. For me they provided a thread through time of real people in real situations and gave me the opportunity to communicate them through Barbers music written in the 20th century and Pawsons 21st century monastic environment. The coming together of all these elements across the centuries enabled me to be a kind of conduit to create a different atmosphere in the space and to interrupt and interact with the visitor’s silent thoughts.
The magic for me is that these were all real people, real lives continuing to inspire and create new realities through the immediacy and intimacy of the human singing voice, sung in very specific situations, in real time.