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  4. Word on the Street: The participative and improvisatory songs of Belfast City Choir and HIVE Choir




Word on the Street: The participative and improvisatory songs of Belfast City Choir and HIVE Choir




Speaker: Dr John D’Arcy, Queen’s University, Belfast.

The presentation will discuss the urban performance interventions of Belfast City Choir and HIVE Choir within the sonic and political contexts of public spaces in post-conflict Belfast.

Belfast City Choir was developed as a series of participative music events in 2013-14.  These gathered local literature and verbatim quotations of the city centre shopkeepers, publicans and pedestrians.  These texts formed lyrics for instructional songbooks.  The songbooks invited audience members to raise their own voice in an improvised exploration of the text.

HIVE Choir was formed from the memberships of Belfast City Choir and another Belfast-based ensemble Bird on a Wire.  HIVE’s recent performance ‘Word on the Street’ (August 2019) presented a vocal response to Belfast City Council’s recent cultural strategy consultation within the context of controversial urban redevelopment plans and political stagnation. This promenade performance used voices and megaphone amplification to interact with specific acoustic spaces (indoor arcade, pubic square, pedestrian subway) and sounds of the city (droning smart hub, traffic lights, amplified music).

Focusing on the participative acts of Belfast City Choir and HIVE Choir, this presentation will consider the voice as a means of amplifier and censor against a backdrop of contested cultures and spaces - raising public concerns found in text, interview and eavesdropped exchange. It will address how the performances of HIVE and Belfast City Choir might bring attention to socio-sonic issues of Belfast’s public realm, and the potential add to wider conversations that are currently redeveloping and redefining the city.

John D’Arcy is an artist based in Belfast working with technologically mediated live performance, voice-based intermedia artwork, and site-specific storytelling and song-making. John’s work has been broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and Resonance FM; and featured at The Science Museum, London; Belfast International Festival; Being Human Festival; and Happy International Samuel Beckett Festival, Enniskillen. John’s podcast The Jewel Case features interviews with artists working in a range of practices within Northern Ireland.  John currently directs HIVE Choir and co-ordinates Belfast-based sound art collective Umbrella.

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When and where

5.30pm - 7.30pmWednesday 20th November 2019

AG09 College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB United Kingdom