11 Dec POLARIS INTERVIEWS: PSYCHE ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC OPERA
Polaris Studios recently had the opportunity to work with Psyche Electro-Acoustic Opera, an innovative Miami-based project devoted to the creation of electronic operas with stunning multimedia staging. The outcome of their work is incredibly unique thanks to the blending of soulful vocal performances, beautiful saxophone playing and high-end technologic sounds. For this interview, had the honor to meet Dr. Liza Seigido and Dr. Lawrence W. Moore, which make the backbone of this team.
- Liza, we had the opportunity to work in “Virgen María”, Psyche’s recent works not long ago; we were blown away by the expressiveness and depth of this music from day one. How did you get to the creation of this project?
LS: 9/11 prompted the composition of “Virgen Maria.” After the attack, I was compelled to write a piece that would pay homage to the innocent lives that were lost that day, and also serve as a source of comfort to my compatriots. I found nearly perfect lyrics for my piece in Jose Marti’s “Virgen Maria” from his “Versos Sencillos.” Marti’s poem expressed the angst, despair, and fatigue he felt as he endeavored to free his homeland from the tyranny of Spain. In the poem, which is also a prayer to the Virgin Mary, he asks the holy mother to restore his strength and optimism, and to deliver Cuba from the depths of tyranny. I simplified Marti’s words so that his prayer can be applied to the current plights of our country.
The piece was originally composed for voice and piano, and was performed multiple times at Miami Dade College and New World School of the Arts. After 2005, I moved on to other projects and did not perform it again. Due to recent events, which have deeply divided our nation, I felt the need to revive “Virgen Maria.” Although the music no longer represents my present compositional voice and aesthetic, I felt like the lyrics perfectly expressed my feelings about current events. My renewed interest in the piece inspired me to tap into my new-age roots, and rework the piece for synths, alto saxophone, and my own voice.
The production of the updated “Virgen Maria” was a collaboration between myself and my husband, Lawrence W. Moore; Lawrence masterfully performed the saxophone part, and all of the recording and mixing was done in our home-studio. We were both grateful for Polaris Studio’s wonderful mastering of “Virgen Maria”, which greatly enhanced the richness and musicality of the work.
- Which are your main musical influences?
LS: You’ll find that my compositional/artistic influences span many time periods and genres. These are only a few of the composers/artists who’ve had an impact on my aesthetic: Claude Debussy, Isao Tomita, Guillame de Machaut, Krzysztof Pendereski, Milton Babbitt, Francesco Petrarca (poet), Enya and -most recently- Dead Can Dance.
LWM: Classical music, classic rock, and alternative rock.
- Psyche’s shows count on great video backgrounds as an integral part of the performances. What is Psyche’s approach to visual arts and stage design in the context of such innovative music?
LS: As a millennial, I am constantly being bombarded by audio/visual material; and this has had an impact on my compositional pallet. When I write a piece of music, I am also simultaneously thinking about what I want to see on stage as the work is performed. My husband Lawrence, who is also a composer, and I have found that interactive music/multimedia technology give us the tools we need to realize our musical and visual ideas economically. We’ve worked hard to become proficient in graphic object oriented programming languages like Max/MSP and Pure Data, and have learned about sensors and microcontrollers that work natively with these 4GL’s (fouth-generation programming languages) so as to have the ability to design our own audio-visual, and lighting systems. We do not work with this technology in an effort to be “innovative,” but rather because this technology has given us artistic independence in that we are almost entirely responsible for the overall sound, look and feel of our work. In working with this technology over the years, we have cultivated our own “brand” of live performance, and our becoming aware of our unique “brand” prompted our founding of Psyche Electro-Acoustic Opera Company.
- Lawrence, you are bringing elements as diverse as great saxophone playing and complex sound design in Psyche. What’s your musical and technical background?
LWM: I played saxophone since the age of 8, and I’ve been working on electronic music, compositionally, since the age of 18. While I have a bachelors degree, three masters degrees and a doctorate, most of what I’ve learned about composition and sound designed has been self-taught.
- Any new releases or performances to come soon?
LS: We are currently working to fund Psyche’s first production. With the help of Revelstock Soap Company, Coaching for Life Goals, and Polaris Studios, we’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to help Psyche Electro-Acoustic Opera Company pay for insurance and provide Psyche’s performers with fair artist fees. Our first large production, titled Myths & Spirits (a series of operatic shorts), will feature our compositions executed by Miami’s most talented and innovative musicians, choreographers, and dancers.
- How can we keep updated on your upcoming works and shows?
You can join Psyche’s mailing list for free on psycheopera.com’s contacts page. We publish newsletters periodically to keep our subscribers informed about our fundraising efforts and to share our latest musical creations. To thank our subscribers for their enthusiasm and support, we gift our subscribers with a free recording of “Virgen Maria.” Our subscribers will also receive exclusive discounts on tickets to all Psyche events!