Inspired by the ancient Indian goddess Vak, who creates the world through sound vibration, Vak: Song of Becoming calls on ancient yoga philosophies to create an immersive sonic experience. The new work, commissioned by YBCA, comes out of a period in which Dyer withdrew from a successful recording and performing career as a jazz vocalist to explore her personal relationship to voice and self through the study of Indian sound practices. In the piece, Dyer experiments with these ancient principles in a new, contemporary context, creating a monumental work at a new intersection of art and mindfulness.
Composed by Dyer and Tim Volpicella with choreography by Erika Chong Shuch, the piece brings together Dyer’s close collaborators over the last twenty years— John Shifflett on bass, Jason Lewis on drums, co-composer Tim Volpicella on guitar, and featured soloist Hafez Modirzadeh on saxophones—with the recently created Vak Choir of 108 “every day” voices. The Vak Choir’s 108 voices—based on the traditionally auspicious number of beads on the Hindu mala, used for chanting meditation—represent all ages, backgrounds, and abilities, and are encouraged to find unity in diversity.
Vak: Song of Becoming challenges assumptions about voice, listening, and the role of performance in a modern musical awakening.