PhD in Artistic Research in Music
Instructor in Opera improvisation, improvisation and Music on Stage
Sara Wilén is a classical singer with a master degree in singing from the performance programme at Malmö Academy of Music in 2003, after studies at Operastudio 67. In October 2017 Sara received her PhD in artistic research at the Academy of Music in Malmö, with the thesis Singing in Action: An inquiry into the creative working processes and practices of classical and contemporary vocal improvisation www.singinginaction.com
Sara teaches at Malmö Academy of Music since 2005. She has presented her research as well as opera improvisation in lectures and performances at conferences in conservatoires and academies in Belgrad, Montreal, Lyon, Maynooth, Huddersfield, Helsingfors, Gothenburg and Stockholm. Sara has also studied drama pedagogy at Malmö University. Sara is working as teacher and workshop leader in stage performance, theatre and opera improvisation, for example in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Montreal, Gothenburg and Stockholm. She is also working as theatre pedagogue at Kulturskolan in Malmö.
Sara has performed in the following opera roles: Violetta in La Traviata, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Berta in The Barber in Seville, Petra in Balladen om Kasper Rosenröd (Björlin), The Child in Sälskinnet (Staern et al), Jenny i Three sisters who are not sisters (Rorem) among others. Sara’s career as soloist includes performances at NorrlandsOperan, Teatr Weimar, Skånska Operan, Riksteatern and Operaverkstan/Malmö Opera. Sara performs as concert singer in solo parts in oratorios, orchestral works, chamber music, Lieder and contemporary music all over Sweden. She has performed as soloist with Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and in Denmark.
In the duo Impromans, Sara performs together with Conny Antonov, pianist, in concerts both in Sweden and abroad, improvising songs and arias in classical and contemporary music styles. As member of the ensemble Operaimprovisatörerna since 2007, Sara has performed as soloist in a number of opera productions, with Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra, Folkoperan, Vadstena-Akademien, Malmö Opera, Halland Opera & Vocal Festival, Orionteatern, Bastionen in Malmö, Lund Comedy Festival, Klara Soppteater, Göteborgskalaset, Malmö Garden Show, Inter Arts Center, Swedish Radio, SVT and tours arranged by Musik i Syd, Region Gävleborg, Scenkonst Sörmland and Musik i Halland, among others. The opera project Gravity of Life was performed in collaboration with six choirs and vocal ensembles, such as Hjorthagens Vokalensemble, Svanholm Singers and Carolinae Damkör. The latest performance of Gravity of Life was performed in Malmö with Operaimprovisatörerna and solo singers from Malmö Academy of Music, as part of Sara’s PhD defense on September 30, 2017.
Link to ensemble
Singing in Action (2017)
An inquiry into the creative working processes and practices of classical and contemporary vocal improvisation
This dissertation explores performative perspectives on classical and contemporary vocal improvisation (CCVI) as a critical, creative tool for development of and research in vocal performance. It consists of one introductory part and five articles, with additional documentation on a homepage. The artistic projects have been performed in close collaboration with fellow classically trained singers and musicians. The practice of CCVI is contextualised in relation to vocal history, opera, improvisation practice(s) and research in vocal performance. The artistic methods of opera improvisation, lyrical improvisation and CCVI without words are described in text and video. The studies performed also investigate how theoretical concepts such as performativity, action and interperformativity can be used for articulating aspects of communication, creativity and knowledge in CCVI.
Central to the thesis is a suggested model for analysing performativity in three dimensions: the structural, the symbolic and the individual. Performative aspects of the singer’s subject positions as a vocal and instrumental persona in a classical vocal concert approach and an opera performance approach are articulated and problematised in the artistic practice. New artistic performance concepts and projects are presented. CCVI is used as a creative artistic tool for singers in critical dialogue with classical vocal performance tradition: deconstructing methods of portraying gender and power in operatic performance; opera improvisation with symphonic orchestra; composed and improvised opera with choirs; abstract improvisation in dialogue with visual art; improvisation with poetry and electronics and deconstructing Lied performance in dialogue with light design. An interview study focusing on the experiences and perspectives of the improvisers indicate that presence, relations to one another in the ensemble, relations to the emerging material, and the creation of common agreements and structures are central in CCVI. Three analytical models focusing on interaction in CCVI are presented: action analysis in improvisation, the Interplay Analysis Model and the use of the concept musico-performative tropes. It is suggested that improvisers in CCVI create music, text and dramatic content as vocal and musical actions by the intuitive use of musical and performative tropes in an interperformative play with the performance context as well as the classical singing tradition.
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