American electric-acoustic composer, performer, and story-teller, Sxip Shirey created The Gauntlet – a choir you walk through – for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city Fredrikstad in Norway. Now, The Gauntlet comes to Sydney as part of ANTIDOTE, a weekend of ideas, action and change at the Opera House
Based in New York City, Sxip Shirey is known for working with found objects, traditional instruments, and computer and rare modified instruments. The Gauntlet is a response to the city itself, drawing inspiration from the city streets, the river and the old town with melodies which reflect their characters.
Shirey describes The Gauntlet as created by the singers forming two lines, facing each other in pairs. The audience walks between the singers as each pair sings a short phrase of music sharing the notes of each phrase in turn. The melodic line bounces back and forth (known as “hocketing”) across the aisle between the performers. Hocketing was an aspect of some medieval choral singing. Formations of singers will create musical phrases and tones that echo around the Joan Sutherland Theatre staircase and foyer. Their accompanying gestures create waves of sound and movement as the 50 performers pass around each musical note to create a unique soundscape.
Sxip Shirey’s music and Coco Karol’s choreography are lyrics are inspired by interviews with Sydney’s cultural, social and environmental activists about global, local and personal issues. The Gauntlet explores the body as an archive of personal knowledge, creating an intimate choral chamber sharing the experience between the performers and you. Previous iterations have been performed at The Highline (NYC), Fredrickstad, Norway, National Sawdust (Brooklyn) and Cleveland Art Museum.