Bora Yoon Releases New Album SUNKEN CATHEDRAL
Sunken Cathedral, the new multimedia album from 2014 TED Fellow/Korean-American composer and performer Bora Yoon, introduces a contemporary sonic journey through the chambers of subconscious. By blending digital devices, found objects, and instruments from a variety of cultures and centuries with her own voice, Yoon creates a series of surreal soundscapes that range from choral, electronic, ambient, industrial, spoken-word, symphonic, and early music, to express the cyclical and transcendental nature of music.
As suggested by the album title, Yoon's exploration as an architectural composer encompasses both the internal architecture of one's body and mind, as well as the external buildings for which her music is created, and their intersection. Yoon believes that "architecture is housed within us, and outside of us - and music is a tool to circulate, transform, and illuminate those spaces." Sunken Cathedral is a culmination of seven years of Yoon's commissioned works including: Speratus (Hope), recorded at NYC's Park Avenue Armory for a site-specific symphonic commission in collaboration with Sympho; Doppler Dreams, a kinetic choral work created for the abandoned 55,000 square foot pool basin of Brooklyn's historic McCarren Pool performed by seven bicycle-riding sopranos, bike bells and electronics resulting in a large scale Doppler effect; and the 2006 recording of New American Theater from the 51st (dream) state with the late poet Sekou Sundiata (1948-2007).
Classically trained and steeped in a first love of choral music, Yoon blurs the lines between performance and ritual by exploring music as a form of narrative and spatialization, in both secular and sacred realms. These elements of architecture, memory, spirituality and music is evident throughout the album starting with the recording's opening track - O viridissima virga (O hail greenest branch) featuring the antiphon chant by Hildegard von Bingen, field recordings of songbirds in Tokyo as well as a hailstorm in Santa Fe, and Yoon singing, turning Bible pages, and performing on the Manton memorial organ at NYC's Church of Ascension. Other works include O Pastor Animarum, and electroacoustic Semaphore Conductus inspired by the medieval song form conductus (likening music to the conduction of energy, electricity and signals) performed by vocal quartet New York Polyphony.
The desire to make something new and step outside the limitations of conventional music is a guiding force in Yoon's work. "I fold unusual sounds into more traditional forms of music to expand its language," explains Yoon. "Sound and noise have just as much evocative meaning, as they can trigger memory, association, time, place - texture, a sense of environment - all valid forms in which a sonic surrealism can be built." In Sunken Cathedral, she brings together ancient music including Korean folklore and medieval chants and makes it contemporary by using instruments (violin, gramophone, synthesizer, Buddha box, subwoofing spoons created in collaboration with the League of Electronic Musicians & Urban Robots), found objects (anvil, pen, loose chimes, Bible pages, subwoofing spoons, aluminum cans, Tibetan dorje, walkie talkies, conch, sand debris, 10-gallon jugs), sound design (heartbeats, transmission static, audio feedback, ark creak, marine radio, semaphore) and field recordings (Bushwick dogs, coins tossed in Tokyo's Meiji Temple, voicemails, etc.)