Clarion/Whisper is a song cycle composed by Gian Slater for the full 17-voice incarnation of Invenio. Since its inception in 2010, Invenio has focused primarily on wordless and extended vocal compositions, creating a world of vocal sound that is rarely heard. This new song cycle explores text and song-form with an urgent, dynamic intensity that throws itself between minimalist unison and 8-part layered complexity; hushed text and extended pop exultation; clarion call and delicate whisper. The 50- minute work comprises eight songs that feature the full ensemble throughout, highlighting the individual singers, varying groupings and the unity of the whole ensemble. As each piece ends, an improvised motive begins that cues the singers to move into new positions, creating a moment of reflection and pause within the world of this work.
The Clarion/Whisper text explores the reflections and struggles of everyday life; from our tolerance for cynicism ‘In love with the darkness’; to the ups and down of getting older ‘Growing Pains’; to looking at the bigger picture; ‘Your Horizon’ to the changing phases in a long term relationship; ‘I am on your side’. Invenio’s trademark white costumes, their poised, refreshing stage layout and their refined movement sequences, create an undeniably ethereal atmosphere that presents a balance and contrast to the earthy text and complex musical ideas.
Slater’s innovative approach to the composing and arranging of this music redefines the possibilities and parameters of a cappella music, using a more orchestral approach to colour, harmony and texture, with an improvisational approach to the vocal techniques, forms and blend.
Clarion/Whisper premiered in November 2012 at the Northcote Town Hall, receiving a 5-star review in The Age. The piece was performed again throughout 2013 and was recorded in July for release in 2014. Invenio recorded Clarion/Whisper in July 2013 and will be releasing it as their second studio album release in 2014.
Recorded Cast: Gian Slater, Miriam Crellin, Georgie Darvidis, Bronwyn Hicks, Gemma Tully, Lisa Salvo, Natalie Carolan, Loni Thomson, Louisa Rankin, Josh Kyle, Jeremy Hopkins, Jem Savage, Edward Fairlie, Sam Young, Ben Taylor, Tilman Robinson, Ben Harrison
‘Clarion/Whisper involved all 16 members of Invenio. It juxtaposed lead singing with lyrics against wordless singing. Sections of the group entered with different parts like the sections of an orchestra. The choir produced exquisite harmonies in a rich tapestry of sound that utilized vocal range and rhythmic density. Together, they brought out the complexity and the striking melodic contours of these rewarding compositions, compositions that are festival material’
- Andra Jackson (The Age)
‘Gian Slater’s compositions are kaleidoscopic musical worlds of dazzling rhythmic geometricity and ecstatic jazz-inflected polyphony. In contrast to this brilliant musical space her lyrics deal with day-to-day struggles like mustering the courage to deal with paperwork. The result is an enchanted hyper-reality where the mundane becomes the cosmic, or perhaps an internal space of solace in the face of a dull external reality.
It is a world embraced by her ensemble, the Invenio Singers, who never fail to deliver an impeccably choreographed and polished performance of a good hour or so of music (in this case two) from memory’
- Mathew Lorenzon (Partial Durations 2013)