Chavisa Woods

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Butch Morris' Chorus of Poets at the Whitney Museum

Butch Morris' A Chorus of Poets redefines the audience’s understanding of jazz, poetry, instrumentation, and, most importantly, the conductor – ensemble relationship. When you go to a concert, you typically have some notion of what you're going to hear, and your brain shifts into a relaxed gear. When you go to hear Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris, though, you must be mentally present. For more than 25 years, Mr. Morris has been developing method of conducting—ranging from nine-member ensembles to 25-piece orchestras. "Conduction®”, as he has dubbed it, is a series of signs and gestures that communicates directions—such as "repeat" or "sustain"—to the ensemble members. The directions create a structure or framework, and ensemble members provide the content.

A Chorus of Poets is an improvisational ensemble comprised of contemporary poets, performance artists, actors and musicians. The ensemble works (reads from) from pre-written texts, using their voices as instruments, interpreting the texts simultaneously through  Conduction® Method prompts given by conductor/composer Butch Morris, and through their own chosen interpretational styles. The chorus presents their work both alone (vocals only) and in tandem with jazz/orchestral instrumental ensembles. A Chorus of Poets utilizes a variety of sources for texts, including texts written by the ensemble members themselves, texts commissioned for the chorus by contemporary writers and texts from writers and thinkers of the past. Morris continues a vital tradition in the spoken word community of constructing our experiences as a series of contextualized language towers, where the timbre of the spoken word forms the foundation from which spires of ideas and images emerge.


During September 2010, A Chorus of Poets performed as part of the Christian Marclay: Festival at the Whitney Museum; featuring multiple daily performances of Marclay’s musical scores by individual musicians and ensembles. A veritable “Who’s Who” of downtown and avant-garde musicians, these performers will interpret more than a dozen of Marclay’s graphic scores.


WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ARTSaturday, Sept 11 1pm – 5pm –  BUTCH MORRIS CONDUCTS “A CHORUS OF POETS” PERFORMING: MIXED REVIEWS BY CHRISTIAN MARCLAY,  FEATURING: Alva Rodgers, Helga Davis, Barbara Duchow, Chavisa Woods, Alex Bilu, Dave Devo, Mark Gering, Yascha Janet Bilan


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