HD video (single or multichannel), 4-part vocal ensemble and score, Taonga pūoro (traditional Maori instruments), 4-channel sound, audience participation (breathing chorus)
Manawa Ora is a collaboration with Flo Wilson, commissioned for the 2018 New Zealand Sustainable Development Goals Summit.
Described as a ‘fanfare’ this project draws together many seperate elements into a performance that centres around breath; the intricate and shared process of most life on earth. Breath, as a repetitive, unconscious performance of life. Inhaling and exhaling. A vital response. A chemical exchange – O2 to CO2. A sacred act; inhaling our surroundings and exhaling ourselves into the world. Respiration. Expiration. Precious, life giving air. Whether it be a gasp in horror, a collective sigh of relief or a breath held in suspense, we all breathe and use breath in different ways, yet each breath is an exchange with our environment. This fanfare uses the simple and inherent process of breathing, and the sound of breath, to draw attention to our common goals and to attune summit participants to their interconnectedness with other species and with our earth.
The performance involved three musical parts that play together simultaneously.
Part 1: audience participants breathe along with a visual score – in this case, waves crashing on the beach – and create a rhythmic foundation for the fanfare. Part 2: a small ensemble of vocalists breathe along with the participants breathing chorus and then morph into a complex texture and text based on the line “toitū te whenua, toitū te tangata”. Part 3: sounds of Taonga pūoro (live and recorded) develop throughout the fanfare and soar through speakers that engulf the room.
Manawa Ora explores an earth that has been put out of sync. Participatory sections highlight the major impact that small changes to your environment can have on the larger group, and the uneasiness or disquiet sensed in breathing out of time with yourself.
Our grateful thanks to vocalists Pepe Becker, Robert Oliver, Noel Meek and to Taonga pūoro player Alister Fraser.