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Kate Soper's "Ipsa Dixit" Album Release and Portrait Concert

"[T]hat’s something that happens in a lot of my work lately: I’m trying really hard to tell you something, and you know that I’m trying, and you’re getting something out of it, but basically we’re both aware of the fact that that’s not possible. And I think the texts that I feel really drawn to have something of that in them."

For the past eight years, Kate Soper has been testing, and playing, with the liminal space between music, text, and language. This study has produced, among other works, the evening-length "philosophy-opera" Ipsa Dixit, a recording of which will be released on New World Records on October fifth, featuring the many people with whom Soper has worked closely over to produce this work—including flutist Erin Lesser, violnist Joshua Modney, and percussionist Ian Antonio, all of the Wet Ink Ensemble.

But Ipsa Dixit is much more than a recording: it has also existed as a staged performance, with lighting, projection, and costumes, and its individual movements also function on their own.  These movements—Poetics, Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say, Rhetoric, The Crito, Metaphysics, and Cipheralso function on their own, and indeed have been performed by Soper and her collaborators since 2010. In each, Soper offers a multi-faceted exploration of fundamental questions of textuality, communication, and sound, through setting texts by Aristotle, Guido d'Arrezo, Lydia Davis, Michael Drayton, Robert Duncan, Plato, Sigmund Freud, Jenny Holzer, Sophocles, Sarah Teasdale, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.  

All of this led to Ipsa Dixit being a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music, whose committe described it as "a breakthrough work that plumbs the composer’s fertile musical imagination to explore the relationships between idea and expression, meaning and language."

Ipsa Dixit will also be performed live, by Soper, Lesser, Antonio, and Modney, at a Portrait Concert at Columbia University's Miller Theatre, on October 27th. This performance, directed by Ashely Tata, will feature costumes, lighting, and projection, by the same creative team that premiered the evening-length work in 2016 at EMPAC. Check out a video recording of Poetics from that performance below. 

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