Our season opener is a real wild gift. We’re delighted to be hosting one of the UK’s most elusive and subversive musicians: performer, listener and sonic stalker Áine O’Dwyer. Originally from Ireland, O’Dwyer visits us from her current home in London where she’s been honing a sonic practice around found and forgotten spaces, acoustic phenomena, the search for alternative scorings and the performativity of instruments, time, memory and the body. Of late, this practice centers on the pipe organ as a place of shifting and contemporary ritual.
This focus began in 2015 with Music For Church Cleaners, an album recorded over several months during which O’Dwyer was given access to the pipe organ at St Mark’s Church, Islington in London “while the cleaner’s were in” and includes footsteps, sweeping, doors closing and conversations with the cleaners in addition to O’Dwyer’s heady, conceptual organ pieces. This form of dark and playful connivance continued with 2016’s Locusts and Gegenschein and 2017’s Beast Diaries, a collection of guerilla performances recorded throughout England, France, The Netherlands and Bosnia.
During her time in Halifax, O’Dwyer will be setting up residence in one of our favorite haunts, Fort Massey United Church, to explore their recently-restored organ, dating back to 1913 and containing over 2000 pipes and three distinct keyboards. Joining her in opening this sonic portal will be West Chezzetcook’s experimental jaw harpist chik white in advance of his first major European tour.
Apart from her performance, O’Dwyer will also be hosting an artist talk at Halifax Central Library entitled Sound Walks From Medjugorje. The talk will include lecture, notes and field recordings from the artist’s time spent researching at Medjugorje, a site of pilgrimage in Herzegovina famed for its recurring apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Topics will include the sonic phenomena of the human voice, the silence of the apparition, monophonic tanoy reflections, the chorus of beating sticks on apparition hill and the mass of the weeping knee.