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CyberSongs – Barbara Ellison


This new live experimental music-theatre project by Barbara Ellison has been developed in close collaboration with performer Nathalie Smoor and Ensemble Klang. Smoor is a frequent collaborator, having worked with Ellison on multiple projects. She is immersed on stage by Computer Vocal Avatars, new light environments (Pavla Beranova), projections of silent movie films by Segundo de Chomón and also original video material by Ellison.

CyberSongs are unlimited by speed in a range of languages and with limitless frequency range. The songs are ‘beyond human’ in many technical as- pects as the computer voices can execute ‘impossible’ feats of performance. Alongside these ‘beyond human’ possibilities, this new work embraces the audible compositional feature glitches/ artefacts from the technical compositional process itself. Barbara’s signature compositional research with TTS (text to speech) voices forms the core of the compositional musical score/musical mate- rial and ‘libretto’. The songs have been re-composed and adapted for live performance.

We focus on the universal beauty of the singers (both human and non-human) accompanied by intriguing instrumental patterns in surreal visual environments inspired by the transhuman nature of the musical material itself. Unique and different in this staging of the work is the presence of the human performer with the ensemble of computer avatar TTS voices. The music, with its transhuman synthetic aesthetic, intentionally blurs lines between real and virtual worlds, shifting ambiguously from the world of the computer voice to the world of the human singer and back again, with this aesthetic reflected in the theatrical presentation.

Creative elements of the show were workshopped by Ellison and Smoor in WORM(UBIK) Rotterdam along with some earlier theatrical ideas which had been explored during Trickster Collective’s Heropera.

Source films for CyberSongs, recomposed and re-edited by Barbara Ellison, by Segundo de Chomón: La Grenouille (1908), Les Oeufs de Paques (1907), Le Charmeur (1906),Métamorphoses (1912). Also fragments from: Percy Stow and Cecil Hepworth’s Alice in wonderland (1903), Maurice Tourneur’s The Blue Bird (1918), and Neil McGuires’s Moonland (1926).

featuring   Nathalie Smoor & Ensemble Klang
live sound   Barbara Ellison, Francisco López, Micha de Kanter
lights   Pavla Beranova
video   Barbara Ellison
costumes for Nathalie Smoor   Nina Boas


  • 13 Jan 2023, during Musical Utopias, Korzo