info@kingsplace.co.uk Tel 020 7520 1440

How Much Of You Is In Your Voice?

Feature

Hannah Conway, composer and artistic director of Sound Voice, considers voice as an inextricable part of all our identities, and how we navigate its loss.

When one of my closest family members lost his voice due to a stroke and terminal cancer, it was devastating – shattering for us to lose that precious connection.

 

Over the following year after we lost him, I realised that as a composer, writing opera and working with singers throughout my career, I’d never really deeply thought about the value and fragility of our voices. I’d taken everything for granted. I’d never truly appreciated why it is that we need our own, unique sounding voice and what happens when that ability to express ourselves, to ‘sound’ like oneself, disappears.

What are we left with?  How can we continue to be ourselves amongst the people we love?

These questions motivated me to draw together a team of unlikely collaborators. I wanted to gather those with experience of voice loss and their families, artists and professionals with an expert connection to voice and discover the meaning of ‘voice’ and how the concept of voice intersects with identity. People from healthcare, technology, biomedical research and neuroscience were connected with those affected by Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease and throat cancer.

Together with the brilliant writer Hazel Gould, we led them through an intense artistic process of exploration; singing, writing, exchanging stories, research and experiences. Singing was new for most, and for many terrifying prospect, so an equal, non-hierarchical space was established quickly. Mutual respect between people who would never normally meet in the same room grew, and the teams became closely knit. We laughed, we cried and we discovered so much about what it is to be human and to have a voice. The installations we present at Kings Place in January 2022 emerged from three of the six works we wrote, collating the stories and experiences of all. They focus on two individuals, Tanja and Paul, and a third piece.

‘‘I wanted to platform voices that are never heard in the concert hall’’

I believe that these works have immense power because of the rich combination of performers, harnessing their dramatic conviction, driven by the musical quality and unique colour combination of both operatic and changed, sometimes deteriorated, voices which are able to communicate everything, every nuance. By creating these pieces with a team of people across multiple sectors, I’ve seen real impact and innovation take place: profound changes thinking, transformed professional practice and groundbreaking new research directions, all set in motion. Sound Voice is now a fully-fledged company, using the arts as a catalyst for cross sector exchange the healthcare, science, education and technology industries. I hope, most importantly, that we’ve created works that invite audiences to think about the value of their own voices, and offer a small insight into the lives and stories of people who have lost theirs.

Recommended articles

Sound Voice Project: In Conversation

Feature

Ahead of our Sound Voice Project concert on Fri 27 May, Sound Voice artistic director/composer Hannah Conway and writer Hazel…

Read the article

Sumida River in Sign Language

Feature

Now in its third edition, the bi-annual Noh Reimagined festival returns to Kings Place in June 2022. One of the…

Read the article

Noh, an Art of Contrasts

Feature

Diego Pellecchia, Associate Professor at Kyoto Sangyō University, introduces one of the oldest extant theatrical forms in the world.

Read the article

Singing Together

Feature

As part of our year-long 2022 Voices Unwrapped programme, we’re welcoming community, amateur and children’s choirs into our public spaces.

Read the article

An introduction to Mark Simpson's Darkness Moves

Feature

On Sat 11 Dec, leading composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson performs a programme of clarinet and electronics/loops featuring world premieres,…

Read the article

An introduction to Philip Cashian’s Volvelles

Feature

On Sat 11 Dec, leading composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson performs a programme of clarinet and electronics/loops featuring world premieres,…

Read the article

An introduction to Zoë Martlew's 'Atma'

Feature

On Sat 11 Dec, leading composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson performs a programme of clarinet and electronics/loops featuring world premieres,…

Read the article

A post-Gutenberg programme: the music of insignificance

Feature

George Barton, one half of the electrifying GBSR Duo, introduces their upcoming AV Luminate show investigating human solitude and identity…

Read the article

Rolf Hind - Is it too soon to talk about all this?

Feature

Celebrated pianist-composer Rolf Hind returns to live performance at Kings Place on Wed 7 Oct with a programme profoundly related…

Read the article

Anna Meredith: what got me through lockdown

Feature

The Scottish producer/composer/singer-songwriter and star of our Venus Unwrapped 2019 programme fills us in on how she has been coping.

Read the article