Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Maria Mannisto - December 16



I’ve recently been forced to face the question we all ask ourselves from time to time: Do I enjoy what I do? Our bodies have countless ways of announcing to us that what we’re doing is not quite right: aches and pains, major injuries, fatigue, depression, performance anxiety, full-blown panic attacks, etc. Of course, the longer we ignore these signals, the worse the symptoms become. By being truthful with ourselves – that is to say, submitting ourselves to that which actually exists within us rather than trying to conform to an ideal image projected on us either by others or ourselves – we can perhaps overcome this mind-body duality. One way to elucidate self-awareness and honesty is to always be very clear about intention. I’ve discovered that constantly questioning myself of the intentions behind my performance, and forming intentions whenever they are not completely thought-out, have made my art much more meaningful.

A primary motivator for my singing is because it feels good, but I would never perform in front of others if this were the only intention. So why do I choose to share my singing with other people? From the long list of reasons why I have performed in the past (to make money, validation, etc.), I have chosen two very specific intentions to motivate my performance this Sunday:

1. To showcase a skill or technique that I’ve practiced

This year, I’ve been fortunate to perform several fantastic modern works. Two highlights were “Here [In Circles]” for voice, chamber orchestra, and cassette recorder by Michel van der Aa, performed with The Box Is Empty at the Century Ballroom, and “Khoom” for voice and chamber orchestra by Giacinto Scelsi, performed with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall. Both pieces required a new skill that I hadn’t previously utilized in performance: “Here [In Circles]” required that I use a cassette recorder to record and playback our live performance periodically during the piece. “Khoom” is a microtonal piece, and thus demanded a new way of reading and interpreting music. For this Sunday’s session, I’ve created a piece demonstrating looping (both using a Boss looping pedal and cassette recorder) as done in “Here [In Circles]”, as well as the microtones prevalent in “Khoom”. Joining me will be David Balatero on cello and bass, and Evan Woodle on drums.

2. Simply because I put myself in a situation, and that is what exists at that particular moment.

My second piece will be a solo vocal improvisation.

I would ask that each improvisation that follows be guided by a clear intention. What are you trying to communicate? Think actions, emotions, fictional stories, etc. I look forward to sharing with you on Sunday!