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The Nature of Music: Karen Power
7:30pm, April 12, 2022 @ Dresher Ensemble Studio, Oakland

Bats from Namibia! That’s one of the unique sounds featured at the first Bay Area performance of music by renowned Irish composer and sound artist Karen Power. Karen traveled all the way from Cork, Ireland for The Nature of Music, Other Minds’ series featuring composers working with natural sounds. Power is one of the foremost environmental artists working in Ireland and she presented works featuring her extensive field recordings from around the world.

Power presented her 14-channel sound installation sounds like the amazon…—a tapestry of field recordings from her trip to the Amazon rainforest in July of 2016. The installation brings the sounds, rhythms, and harmonies of the Amazon to a concert setting to explore how one reacts to those natural characteristics when they are presented in human-made spaces.

Also on the program, works from Power’s human nature series (2020) performed by guitarist and founder of Ireland’s Quiet Music Ensemble, John Godfrey. human nature is a collection of 18 miniature duos between human-induced sound and un-processed field recordings captured by the composer over the past decade. Godfrey will be performing pieces Nos. 8 and 19, featuring field recordings of bats in Namibia and sea caves off the coast of Beara, Ireland respectively.

This event was sponsored by a generous gift from Barbara Bessey, with additional support from Culture Ireland (Cultúr Éireann).

About Karen Power

Karen Power completed her PhD in 2009 in acoustic and electroacoustic composition at SARC (Sonic Arts Research Centre), Belfast, with Prof. Michael Alcorn. She has done residencies at The Arctic Circle, The Banff Centre, Canada, The Guesthouse, Ireland, UC Davis in California and in 2015/16 was artist in Berlin through a DAAD Award. She has been composer in Residence with Galway Music Residency and Music Generation. Karen has been commissioned by RTÉ, Bozzini Quartet, SCAW, Carin Levine, Sonar Quartet, Ensemble Mosaik, ConTempo, Ultraschall Festival, MikroMusik, NMD Festival, Isabelle O’ Connell. Other performances include: RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Modern, the Ulster Orchestra, Kate Ellis, Mmm Trio and Quiet Music Ensemble.

Karen’s installation work and her recent interest in field recordings has taken her music across many genres and art mediums including: video, dance, film, painting, sculpture and glass. This cross-arts approach has enabled some of her more open-time music to be presented in spaces like galleries, parks, warehouses and houses, which offer audiences choice in how and when we listen.

In 2017 Karen became chair of Sounding the Feminists, a collective seeking equality in music across Ireland. In 2018 her work represented Ireland @ ISCM in Beijing. She is an active improviser, who specializes in using environmental and everyday sounds as catalysts for constructing new soundworlds, which also feeds in to her educational work with children and adults.

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