Photo by Shajahan – Malamih Exhibition by Nujoom Alghanem – Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, UAE
A Surprising and Immersive Audio Portrait of Abu Dhabi
Be immersed in waves of harmony, poetry, and gesture: The Gauntlet: Faraway Together, an intimate sonic experience.
Put on your headphones and listen to a libretto composed of poetic fragments and personal narratives of individuals who are important voices of Abu Dhabi and the NYUAD community. In a one-of-a-kind experience, the composition of The Gauntlet: Faraway Together moves around you, the listener.
Every version of The Gauntlet is composed and staged for its specific location. The piece created specifically for Abu Dhabi captures the cultural moment of placelessness brought on by the global pandemic, and deals with reconciling distance and connection at this time, in memories, and in notions of home and belonging.
The Gauntlet: Faraway Together was originally planned as an in-person event during Spring 2020. However, due to COVID-19, it was developed online and adapted for a virtual and remote audience. Through Zoom, Coco Karol interviewed 20 diverse members of the Abu Dhabi community, using a self-developed, specialized process of “movement interviews.’‘ Drawing from these interview texts, composer Sxip Shirey wrote an original choral score with a libretto drawn from the voices of our community. The NYUAD Choral Ensemble, under the direction of Clare Lesser, recorded their parts individually, which were transformed into an immersive, spatially designed sound installation for audience members to experience through headphones.
The premiere will be followed by a live online Q&A with Sxip Shirey, Coco Karol, and members of the creative and technical teams who brought the work to life.
For best experience, use over-the-ear, closed back, circumaural headphones that cover your ears fully and completely cut out external noise.
Beyerdynamic DT 770Pro, Sennheiser HD280Pro, Audio-Technica ATH-M70x or noise-cancellation headphones like Bose QC 35 are some of the good options.
Check out a previous iteration of The Gauntlet, performed as part of the Sydney Opera House Antidote Festival in 2018, composed by Sxip Shirey with choreography by Coco Karol.
Sxip Shirey is a composer/producer/director/performer based in New York City. He is the composer and MD for the theater/circus arts production “LIMBO” and “LIMBO UNHINGED”, developed by Melbourne based Strut N Fret Productions House. This brought him all over the world from The Sydney Opera House to the South Bank Center in London to leading the band at Madonna’s Birthday Party in the Hamptons. Shirey teaches workshops in “Text and Object Oriented Composition” at Norwegian Theater Academy, Fredrickstad, Norway, which Shirey considers to be “The Black Mountain College of NOW.” Shirey toured as the opening-act for the Dresden Dolls and has collaborated often with Amanda Palmer, and was a member of the band Luminescent Orchestrii. He has played Appalachian music for gypsies in Transylvania and gypsy music for Appalachians in West Virginia. Shirey has presented at TED (2008), is a 2011 United States Artist Fellow, and is currently an artist in residence at Brooklyn’s premier contemporary music venue, National Sawdust. He wrote music for the short film “Statuesque”, written and directed by Neil Gaiman, starring Bill Nighy, which premiered on Christmas Day on SKY TV, UK. He created music for the app-version of Shaun Tan’s book, “Rules of Summer,” NSW Lothian Children’s Books, 2013. Shirey has also served as artist curator in residence at National Sawdust, bringing in artists including Taylor Mac, Rhiannon Giddens, Ned Rothenberg, Baby Dee, Sarah Angliss, Theo Bleckmann, Todd Reynolds, Basil Twist, The Quintet of the Americas, and Lady Rizo. Shirey is currently working on an opera based on Winter Miller’s play “No One is Forgotten”, co-composed by Paola Prestini through HERE Arts Center, NYC, USA. He is also composing music for Lisa D’Amour’s play, Ocean Filibuster, which is developed through the American Repertory Theater Company, Boston, USA. Shirey is currently developing his immersive choral works, “The Gauntlet”, with his artist partner, Coco Karol, across the world.
Coco Karol, is a New York-based dancer, choreographer, and artist who makes cross-disciplinary performances that invite conversations between personal and shared experience. A hospice volunteer and dedicated teacher, Coco is interested in how we create meaning and connect to others. For her, dance joins poetic and physical experience. She holds a BFA from Tisch Dance, NYU, and an MFA from Hollins University. Among the choreographers she has danced for are Chris Elam/Misnomer Dance Theater, Cherylyn Lavagnino/ CLD, and Christopher Williams. Her choreography has been toured internationally and premiered in reputable New York venues such as Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Galapagos, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, and been curated by AUNTS. She has worked with musicians including Bjork, Amanda Palmer, Ryan Lott, Sugar Vendil, Minna Choi/ MagikMagik, Lacy Rose, Alaina Ferris, and Inhyun Kim/Ear to Mind; visual artists including Steven Sebring, Eve Bailey, Marcos Zotes, Benjamin Heller, and C. Finley. She teaches various dance and embodied inquiry techniques that she developed including Movement Before Dialogue workshops such as, Gestures of Care, a movement and storytelling series for end-of-life care professionals. Ongoing works include, ‘Movement Interviews’ (dance as inquiry), The Lullaby Project (oral histories/ physical archives), and The Gauntlet, community-inclusive choral performances with her artistic partner and husband, Sxip Shirey.
- Created by Sxip Shirey and Coco Karol
- Composed by Sxip Shirey
- Movement Interviews conducted by Coco Karol
- Libretto by Sxip Shirey and Coco Karol
- Choral Director: Clare Lesser
- Sound design: Subin Thompson
- Choral Members: Mohamed Albreiki, Lili Janka Bognar, Yasmine Busaibe, Nichole Campbell, Vera Ciocca, Jianna Jackson, Kevin Joseph, Asel Kularatne, Kacper Madejek, Eliza Mic, Shyalina Muthumudalige, Vanessa Robinson, Chi-Ting Tsai, Rosa Wang, and Baoyuan Zhang.
- Featuring the words of: Gaith Abdulla, Nujoom Al Ghanem, Omar Al Shami, Christina Awad, Tanya Awad, Khawla Barley, Bill Bragin, Brendalle Belaza, Bernice delos Reyes, Sree Jyothish, Kevin Ke, Clari Lehmkuhl, Brian Lott, Alta Mauro, Sakhawat Mehboob, Waleed Shah, Mariet Westermann, and Tala Worrell.