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New Edition/Ybbstal – Spontaneous Thoughts: Wagner and the HALS vocal quartet combine tarot and music

New Edition/Ybbstal – Spontaneous Thoughts: Wagner and the HALS vocal quartet combine tarot and music

Vocal quartet HALS recently released their EP “Little Secrets”. The four singers Anna Anderloh, Amina Borwin, Verena Loibtsberger and Anna Laszlo compose three pieces for the Wiedhoven harpsichordist and composer Joseph Wagner.

“I had been interested in writing something for four female voices for a long time. But that was an idea I thought I would never find time for alongside my other projects,” says Wagner. The time without performances during the Covid pandemic finally provided the opportunity to devote myself for the project.

“I was like a lot of people: you couldn't play or record and there were no rehearsals,” says the musician. “So I started writing articles very regularly, one every day. It came together a lot and I wanted not only to write for the stairs, but also perform the pieces.

The result are pieces that use a variety of musical styles and ideas and last approximately one to three minutes. In addition to the group of four sounds, there is also a unifying element that is the way in which they are created.

Tarot cards as a starting point for spontaneous ideas

“The starting point and source of ideas for each piece was a tarot card,” Wagner explains. “But I didn't really try to implement the idea of ​​a Tarot card musically; I wasn't interested in something like program music, but simply about developing the idea spontaneously,” he says. The entire compositional project is not yet complete, but Wagner is already in the process of final mutation. “There are 79 cards,” he says. “I'm in the final ten now, so there are already a lot of pieces.”

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The original idea was to integrate these pieces into a larger musical framework, but over the course of the work a different vision developed, as Wagner reveals: “Initially I wanted to build a catalog of pieces that you could then continue to work with. But somehow I liked this idea of ​​miniatures more and more as I wrote. The pieces were then simply finished, and even if some only lasted 50 seconds, they fit the way they did. I found the idea of ​​composing something like this dense and dense, rather than expansive, interesting.

Waidhofen guitarist and composer Joseph Wagner used tarot cards as a starting point for a series of spontaneous compositions for four female voices.

Marta Nalicz

As part of the 2021 Quarter Festival, some of the resulting pieces were performed, albeit at the time with other singers. After this solo concert, Wagner wanted to continue the project and began looking for interpreters for his compositions. “We asked one of the singers from HALS if she would like to join us, and she said that HALS had just re-formed as a quartet and was looking for new projects,” he says.

Recording session at the Limburg Art Salon

This laid the foundation for the collaboration, and in December last year, Wagner, sound engineer Philipp Mosbrugger and Hals met for their first recording session at the Kunstsalon Limberg. Anna Laszlo is the co-curator of this cultural space near Krems.

“The singers wanted to sing together without headphones in a room that already had a certain basic sound. They sang it completely live, and there were no edits or overdubbing,” Wagner says. “It's a very honest record, so to speak.” Six tracks were created during this recording session, three of which are included on the recently released EP. “This was the first part of our collaboration, and I hope one day it will become a full album,” says the composer.

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“Little Secrets” is available on all popular streaming platforms and can already be heard live. “HALS is currently on tour and has included the pieces in its program,” says Wagner, who already had his own take on the “5 Million Pesos” series at the beginning of April during an appearance at RadioKulturhaus as part of “5 Million Pesos.” “Million Pesos” series organized by the Ö1 Jazz editorial team live performance of his compositions.

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"Little secrets" EP cover artwork

“Little Secrets” recently became available on all major streaming platforms. The EP features three tracks from the collaboration between HALS and Joseph Wagner.