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by Seth Colter Walls

February 5, 2014

Music for Heroines: Kate Soper's Compositions

by Seth Colter Walls  |  February 5, 2014

As the managing director (and vocalist) of the Wet Ink Ensemble -- a group that makes use of both electronics and acoustic-instrument virtuosity -- Kate Soper has been at the forefront of recent innovations in contemporary classical performance. In addition to performing music by Soper and other musicians in the collective, Wet Ink are just as likely to play pieces by genre-blind experimenters such as Anthony Braxton and George Lewis.

But thus far in 2014, it's Soper's own music that is drawing the most attention. Her new opera, Here Be Sirens, attracted raves during its January run in New York. And her new song cycle, "Voices from the Killing Jar," which she performs with Wet Ink, debuted to high praise as well. By presenting new takes on a series of fictional female characters (ranging from Iphigenia to Emma Bovary), Soper's full-length debut provides ample opportunity for the singer-composer to engage her own theatricality. Whether she's producing soprano vocalizations that are traditionally gorgeous, or are better described as breathy or neighing, the listener can always appreciate Soper's solid execution.

Click play on the appended mix and you'll find that Soper's song forms are as distinct as that range of vocal expression. The playlist starts off with a three-part setting of text by author Lydia Davis, and then moves on to her new record. Put this in your ears now, and you'll be ready to enjoy Here Be Sirens (just as soon as it can get a recording).

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