Echoes at San Francisco Performances brings together very three different groups on the stage of Herbst Theatre tomorrow night. Kronos Quartet, the guitar and percussion duo called The Living Earth Show, and Youth Speaks have collaborated with composer Danny Clay to create the work, which tells of idiosyncratic memories of the city, and the intersection of different communities.
There’s more information about the show at the San Francisco Performances website.
Clay is quick to point out that he was the “last cook to enter the kitchen” in the collaboration, saying it’s a 14-way collaboration. “I think it’s been an interesting triangle where everybody’s wanted to collaborate with everybody else. And I think all three of these groups have really strong reputations as facilitators. They all sort of offer in themselves these intersections of lots of voices. My two main collaborators on the Youth Speaks end, Tassiana Willis and Sean San José developed this idea of echoes. Sounds that we hear that radiate from different part of the city: sounds that we can’t ignore, sounds that we can ignore, sounds that we choose to ignore… Having these poets perform in Herbst Theatre in itself was a really interesting starting point. We started in the actual venue, in Herbst Theatre, and sort of moved outward. Using the War Memorial building, that intersection, as a really interesting metaphor for intersections of many different backgrounds, the intersection of many different stories.” The personal stories of the young poets of Youth Speaks will be blended with music and actual city sounds reflecting its diversity. “It’s sort of a giant collage of many different types of echoes that are sourced from different poets, from poets that will be speaking, poets that won’t be speaking. Collections of voicemails that I have sourced from people, simple things like describing to me where they are and where they’re going in the city.” Clay says that the collaboration was worked on in a series of marathon rehearsals, using music that he had written, and matching them with the poetry as it was evolving. “Having faith in the fact that, as we started pairing things, there would be this sort of inlayed connection, and there was, we got really lucky. It was almost like these impulsive pairings, where we’d hear a text, and Sean would call out a text, and then I would call out some chunk of material, and we’d just hear how it lived together.”