Supertonic is excited to announce its first concert series of the year, Vanishing Voices: Music honouring our endangered languages.
Vanishing Voices showcases seven languages that have suffered periods of decline, through colonial invasion, assimilationist government policy and economic desperation. Each one of the world’s 6000 languages is a window into our communities, our souls and our history, yet every two weeks we lose another forever irretrievable tongue. Every language has its own unique beauty, poetry and cadence, and deserves to have its story told and its people heard.
For some of these languages, like Welsh, cultural pride has allowed its people to fight for their right to speak and experience their mother tongue; others, such as Nahuatl in Mexico, are struggling to survive outside of small rural communities where literacy is rare and the majority of native speakers are elderly.
The harrowing account of the Guanches people, natives of the Canary Islands near the north-western coast of Africa, can be heard in the piece Aicá Maragá, where the singers lament the brutal murders of their families and the destruction of their villages by Spanish conquerors, with no option left but to give up all they know to marry their invaders, lest they too be destroyed. And much like the families of those who lived and loved through it, the Guanche language has left this world forever.
Snowforms depicts the snowy, icy northern region of Canada inhabited by its First Nations people, painted by a slow, slinking, haunted melody through a graphic score of flowing lines and beautiful shapes. Stephen Leek’s popular Ngana contrasts sharp accented textures with legato lines and complicated polyphony, while Naye-e Sin takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of atonality, soundscaping vocalisations and body percussion.
Aotearoa has our own beautiful and endangered language in Te Reo Māori, and the centrepiece for the concert is a new setting of music written as a collaboration between Supertonic, its director Isaac Stone and young Maori scholar Vincent Olsen-Reeder. Vincent has provided his beautiful original poetry in Te Reo to form an all-new song cycle, to be premiered by Supertonic in Vanishing Voices. In keeping with the theme of empowering Maori youth, the concert will be hosted by two Maori rangatahi: Marama Butler and Kaylim Poese-Nathan, both Year 12 students at Tawa College.
Now in only its fourth year, Supertonic has cemented its place amongst Wellington’s thriving musical community and is known for combining accessible, provocative and enjoyable concerts with a rich, vibrant and immersive sound. The choir believes that strong friendships, trust in one another, and building enduring relationships is what creates special music for both its singers and its audiences. By honouring our endangered languages through the universal language of music, Supertonic hopes to present its most thought-provoking and captivating concert yet.