On Trial and Error: the work of vivienne spiteri: Part 4

She has been called reclusive, enigmatic, irreverent, and even a destroyer of music, but also a true artist. Dubbed an iconoclast, her approach to music has always been “sans a priori.” She has also been described as enraged and contradictory. 

Her concerts have been reviewed as being “sans envergure,” but also as offering listeners a remarkable presence. Concert spaces have gone from sold out to empty. Concert and record producers lose patience at her fastidiousness, yet claim to respect her determination and clarity of vision;  her recordings have been described as an enrichment of humanity. Some composers seek to work with her, while others avoid her like the plague. Most musicians remain perplexed.

Her own relationship to her instrument presents parallel binary tensions: Love-hate, respect–ridicule, creation–destruction. vivienne spiteri’s sincere intention is to give expressive voice to music at any cost and by any means when played at the harpsichord, an instrument whose very mechanism defies musical expression.

Artists in the podcast:


narratorpeter von tiesenhausen

rainer maria rilke : sonnets to orpheus (sonnet 1), read by fred weihs


viola da gamba (in les pleurs by M. de sainte-colombe) : margaret little and susie napper (les voix humaines)  

non-pedal harp: sharlene wallace

accordion: joseph macerollo

violin: lawrence beckwith

banjo: kirk eliot 

electric guitar: tim brady 

harpsichord: vivienne spiteri / vivie’ vinçent

Part 4: Music

  1. anahata –  acousmatic – vivienne spiteri – excerpt from the 40 minute work, underlying the voices @ 3’10” –  4’38”
  2. snowSongs –  acousmatic – vivienne spiteri – excerpt underlying the voices @ 5’15” – 10’38”
  3. brimba –  acousmatic – vivienne spiteri – excerpt underlying the voices @ 11’43” – 13’50”
  4. in the beginning was the endhope lee @ 15’24” – 32’15”
  5. doublingtim brady @ 33’03” – 37’50”
  6. blurred linesjohn beckwith @ 39’28” – 49’58”
  7. insect variationskirk eliot  @ 52’37” – 1h01’10” 
  8. isadora sings –  kent olofsson and vivienne spiteri @ 1h04’55” to end : excerpt underlying the voices : and l’art de toucher le clavecin, prelude 2 – françois couperin @ 1h11’28” to end

Co-produced with Bradyworks

The Innovations Zine is made possible with the generous support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the SOCAN Foundation.

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