Karmina Šilec

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Karmina Šilec

Karmina Šilec is a world known conductor, author of music theatre projects and artistic director of Carmina Slovenica and Choregie.


Toxic Psalms

Ultimate collective experience

I'll tell you. You're young, but you're one of us, and I'm one of us, so I'll tell you.

Toxic Psalms is an open-ended collection of scenes – a juxtaposition of music and texts from medieval to the very present times with fascinating sounds of extended vocal techniques. Scenes move between different spiritual worlds of the past and the present. The setting is an imaginary world moving among the shadows of our ancestors and is a reflection of modernity at the same time.

The essence of Toxic Psalms is the idea of a Collective that is embodied in the ensemble. In Toxic Psalms reflects the unspeakable violence. The life of a man is changed into a drama: men killing for the glory of their Psalms.

Photo gallery

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Rudi Uran

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

About the project

Stage performance

Toxic Psalms are a reflection of the spiritual anguish of today.
The word "toxic" derives from the Greek Toxon (meaning weapon, bow), while the word "psalm" derives from Psallein, meaning ‘playing’ (an instrument) as well as "to snatch", "steal" or "remove". Toxic Psalms metaphorically mean to draw a poisonous bow which is being played on in gloria to ‘move something away’ – tense psalms that are about to be released.

At the centre of the project is the shaman idea: everyone and everything that man creates can be turned against him if used without respect for life. To have control over something matterless, we control it with the knowledge about it and so gain power over it. The almost sinister thought "I'll tell you. You're young, but you're one of us, and I'm one of us, so I'll tell you." gives Toxic Psalms its tone. Death speaks and murderous plague intones in the background of the whole concert arch.

Scenes move between different spiritual worlds of the past and the present. The setting is an imaginary world moving among the shadows of our ancestors and is a reflection of modernity at the same time. Toxic Psalms are a reflection of the spiritual anguish of today. Through music the project reflects Palestine, Syria weapons, concentration camps, blood feuds, extinctions, contaminations of religions, and creates a reflection of human brutality. The life of a man is changed into a drama here and now: men killing for the glory of their psalms. The author’s poise is not one of an agitator – stirring the feeling that "something has to be done" – it is rigorously contemplative. Despite this "detachment", the violence in Toxic Psalms is politically stressed and religiously marked. Religion is one of the main reasons for murderous violence in the world. But true morality requires from us to accept full responsibility for our actions without hiding behind the figure of the big Other and to accept full responsibility for actions without hiding in the anonymity of a group.

Music: Jacob Cooper, Bronius Kutavičius, Karin Rehnqvist, Liga Celma, John Pamintuan, Tellu Virkkalla, Veljo Tormis, Lojze Lebič, Boaz Avni, Sergei Rachmaninov, Sarah Hopkins, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Syrian orthodox
Texts: Stanislaw Lem, Hanne Blank, Svetlana Makarovič, Hafiz, Jean-Luc Nancy, Karmina Šilec, Ifigenija Zagoričnik Simonović, Drago Jančar
Pre-recorded sounds: Marko Hatlak, Musica Cubicularis, Karmina Šilec, Willi Bopp, Danilo Ženko, Big Band of Slovenian Army Forces, Voice: Dean Santonieri

Performed by: Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica

Concept: Karmina Šilec
Light : Andrej Hajdinjak
Set: Karmina Šilec
Costume: Belinda Radulović
Premiere: 2015, Prototype Festival, St. Ann’s Warehouse, New York

 

Video

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Press

… the grandiosity of the staging rivals what one might see at the Met … an overwhelming aural and visual experience … Šilec presents her arcana with a heavy dose of beauty and wonder …
Theatre Mania

… vibrantly theatrical, genre-blurring, unusual in its techniques, eclectic in its musical style and politically charged … one hopes CS will become a regular visitor to New York …
The New York Times

… with its high-contrastdetails, Toxic Psalms at times resembled a more budget-conscious Robert Wilson production ... the mighty but graceful Slovenian women’s choir …
New York Music Daily

… breathtaking and equally relevant multimedia suite … A Sonically Thrilling, Disquieting Premiere For Karmina Silec’s Toxic Psalms …
New York Music Daily

... Silec is savvy about maintaining dramatic momentum, and the performers execute ecery shift in tone with subtlety and agility ...
The New York Times

… striking new work by the rabidly talented Carmina Slovenica …The ensemble and its director, Karmina Silec, have created haunting images …
The New York Times

…  the musical answer to Bausch's groundbreaking concept of Tantztheater …
Opera World

… talent and virtuosity is astounding … the languages, time periods, and cultures blurred into visceral emotion and reaction ...
San Francisco Classical Voice

… polished theatricality to the mix as well as an ambiguity all too rare in American performance … all add up to an evening that’s bracing yet, perversely enough, enchanting …
The New York Times

... jaw-droppingly gorgeous singing … strikingly staged by Karmina Silec …
New York Observer

… a theater which aims for perfection in any discipline ... audience can not do much more than almost breathless look and marvel at so much quality… 
Opera Magazine

…  haunting theatrical moments …
Wall Street Journal

… innovative theater company Carmina Slovenica … intellectually challenging Toxic Psalms…
France Press

… all of the material is conveyed with commitment and precision from this highly skilled vocal ensemble ...
Theatre Mania Review

… a visceral slide into darkness …
The New York Times

… Šilec’s direction toyed with crowd dynamics on both the conformist and nonconformist sides with a coldly sardonic humor that offered momentary respite from the lingering bleakness of the music …
New York Music Daily

 

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