Inside Rensselaer
* PolyChoral Project  Combines Four Choirs  in Immersive Performance
PolyChoral Project
Combines Four Choirs
in Immersive Performance

A choral parade combining four university choirs, accompaniment broadcast via WRPI, and a route leading from the Hudson River to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus will be a first-of-its-kind experience for Rensselaer and the city of Troy next month. The Troy Paradio performance is the opening piece of a larger concert presented as part of the PolyChoral Project on Wednesday, April 6.

Troy Paradio will start at 6 p.m. in Riverfront Park and wind through the streets of Troy to the Approach, the grand staircase connecting the Institute with downtown Troy. After a brief pause, the concert will continue inside the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) with Renaissance-era and fresh-off-the-page contemporary vocal pieces, according to Michael Century, professor of arts at Rensselaer.

“This concert mixes the unconventionality of Troy Paradio with the glorious sound and architecture of the EMPAC Concert Hall. There will be four choirs in four locations with pieces that go all the way back to the 17th century and all the way forward to 2011,” Century said. “It’s an immersive experience — with choral music coming at you from all directions.”

Century said the project includes student choirs from Rensselaer, the University at Albany, the College of Saint Rose, and Russell Sage College.

The opening Troy Paradio piece, created by artist Kathy Kennedy, is “a singular vocal spectacle” that broadens minds to music in an urban environment, said Century. In the piece, the choirs will sing to accompaniment broadcast live over WRPI to standing speakers and portable radios held by some of the singers. The piece will begin with performers standing in place in Riverfront Park, and continue as the singers move through the city.

“There’s music everywhere in the world — and putting music into the public, into the environment, is fun and engaging and educational,” said Century. “I want to join the city of Troy, the experience of moving through the city of Troy, and the more familiar experience of listening to a concert in the concert hall.”

Troy Paradio creator Kennedy, a sound artist with a background in classical singing, is known for combining the voice and issues of interface with technology, often using telephone or radio. Her large-scale sonic installation/performances for up to 100 singers and radio, called “sonic choreographies,” have been performed internationally.

Once the Paradio reaches the Approach, audience and singers will enter the EMPAC Concert Hall, where the singers will perform multichoral works by Antonio Caldara, Pauline Oliveros, Mary Jane Leach, and Kennedy. The four choirs will be positioned around the concert hall, lending the performance its immersive sound.

“There are four choirs from four institutions, and they will be in four locations — on the stage, gallery, and balconies left and right — with the audience in the middle,” Century said. “Half of the concert will be composed of performances with the four choirs separated in space, and half will feature each choir in solo pieces.”

The Rensselaer Concert Chorale will be conducted by John Ryan, the University of Albany choir will be conducted by David Griggs-Janower, the College of Saint Rose choir will be conducted by Michael Levi, and the choir of Russell Sage College will be conducted by Michael Musial.

After the event, Rensselaer will provide shuttle buses to return audience members to Riverfront Park and area parking.

The PolyChoral Project is sponsored by the Office of the President, and is being presented by iEAR Presents!, a series of public performances, exhibitions, screenings, and lectures. Curated by the faculty of the Arts Department, iEAR Presents! seeks to bring artists into a creative dialogue regarding integrated electronic arts practice and theory with a participatory community of faculty and students from Rensselaer and members of the general public.

For more information on the PolyChoral project, visit

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 6, April 1, 2011
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