At San Miguel de Escalada
It is not easy to approach a place like San Miguel de Escalada and free oneself from the connotations that the diverse historiographic discourses have created around it. Words like Mozarabic, reconquest or disentailment appear during the research. Built in the 10th century. Enlarged in the 11th century. Abandoned in the 19tth century. National monument since 1886.
How to understand such a place today? How to live with and in it?
A few weeks ago, we visited with composer Clara de Asís. Chatting, almost whispering, we found certain tones that made one of the apses vibrate out of sympathy. A frequency that we felt on our fingers and that invited us to touch other temporalities, other ways of understanding past and future times. “Listening is a way of playing at a distance”, said R. Murray Schafer.
In 1988 the composer Pauline Oliveros descended into a cistern five meter deep with two musicians. They had no plan, nor score, no prior conversation. They just improvised, played and discovered that the reservoir was playing with them: “we had to respect the returning sound from the walls of the reservoir and include it in our music sensibility”.
When the three musicians entered the cistern, they didn’t know what they were going to play. Maybe thy neither knew what they were going to listen to. But when they came out, they understood that there was another way of listening. A way that had to do with listening. A way that had to do with listening in and with.
A church without a choir invites us to sing from many places, to listen from many angles. To understand distance from the proximity of reverberation. Three apses are presented to us as three possible spaces from which to project voices. Voices that can be skin, wood, metal. Long tones, maintained, waiting for the response of the column and the capital, which want to learn to listen in a new way. That one that include the walls, the air, the time.
San Miguel de Escalada can be a church, a place to keep cattle, a monument. It can be a pass-through place. But it can also be a place in which to listen in a different way. A place where to practice a way of being: an intuited coexistence.
SEQUENCES is a cycle of sound interventions in space.
Curated by: Sound and Listening Area FCAYC
With the support of:
Asociación Cultural y Recreativa Priorato De Escalada y el Ayuntamiento de Gradefes
This post is also available in: Spanish