Life is God’s Musical: 4 Movements (2012)
vocal sound piece and a cappella choral performance with Mariah Robertson
for Art in Embassies 50th Year Celebration, November 30, 2012
Kogod Courtyard | National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Life is God’s Musical: 4 Movements is a 20 minute experimental musical by Sahra Motalebi and Mariah Robertson featuring four a cappella singing groups: American University Chamber Chorus, Blends With Benefits, Dime a Dozen, and On a Sensual Note. A decentralized choral experience exploring the body as an instrument and the movement of ambulatory sound, the choral groups move through 20,000 sq ft of the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery and the crowd attending the event. Initiating the performance from an elevated platform, Motalebi improvises melodies and vocal beats, giving each choral group their respective starting pitches in clockwise motion across the courtyard in each of the corners. The choral groups then migrate toward the center of the space sounding this tone, sustaining it for several minutes as a moving formation, changing the pitch and bursting into operatic laughter as they encounter people and architectural features alike. As the groups converge and self-organize in the center of the atrium, they each perform one minute of predetermined repertoire simultaneously; these songs include contemporary and classic fm radio pop as well as American classical choral music. As the choruses turn inward to face each other, each group is now given another final arbitrary pitch by Robertson and a dissonant crescendo of a cappella singing concludes the performance.