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the Genetic Choir blog

regular news about vocal instant composition ensemble Genetic Choir

AT5 reports on Stem&Luister – first sneak peaks of documentary BEYOND WORDS online

The Amsterdam television channel AT5 has made an item about the Stem&Luister project, which also features – for the first time outside the cinema – sequences of the black-and-white documentary of Kim Brand!

Watch it here, and please share with people who might be interested to join the project as singers: https://www.at5.nl/artikelen/227342/zangkoor-helpt-dementerende-ouderen-om-uit-isolement-te-komen

World premiere of “Beyond Words” in Sheffield on 15 June!

The documentary film by Kim Brand about Genetic Choir’s Stem&Luister project is selected by the Sheffield DocFest, one of the biggest documentary festivals in the world! The world premiere is set to 15 June 2024 – next week Saturday – and will thus happen in Sheffield, England.

Follow this link: https://www.sheffdocfest.com/film/beyond-words

There is also a trailer in the making, but for now we can make you excited about it with a set of stills from the film:

It was a wonderful ride to make this film, together with Kim Brand and her filming team. Thanks again to everyone involved.

Stem&Luister is training anyone who would like to become a singer-volunteer!
(How? Click here.)

To make meaningful contact via musical listening and a playful voice with people in the last phase of dementia.

If you are curious and want to get involved, please get in touch with Lina (lina@genetic-choir.org) and/or have a look at the project webpage:


Open studio this Sunday – sharing Absence/Presence research in WORM

This Sunday @WORM, Rotterdam: an open studio where Genetic Choir singers will share their performance research for a new project!

Worktitle of the project is Absence/Presence.

Sunday 2 June, 14:30-16:00 uur

UBIK in Worm
Boomgaardsstraat 69-71, 3012 XA Rotterdam
more info / reserve here

During a small residency at Worm this week, Genetic Choir singers explore the state of being absent and being present. We do this through sound and music, coupled with a sound-reactive light system and the swarm composition approach of the Genetic Choir. Collaborators for these research days are: NOW (Marion Tränkle and Ivo Bol)

You are welcome to join the last afternoon of research, in an open studio setting from 14:30-16:00.

Solo and Duet Improvisations Weekend

Invited by theartofvoice.nl, Thomas will give another masterclass weekend in intimate setting (max. 6 singers) in the cosy living-room studio of Yinske Silva in Amsterdam. It will be two days of training in a safe and supportive setting one of the most exposed situations of being a vocal improvisor 🙂: The Solo and the Duet.

29 + 30 June – 10:00-17:00 – lunch included!

How much?
235,- euro

Roelantstraat 10, Amsterdam

How to reserve a place?

And what will we do?
Improvising in front of an audience is a special skill that asks a lot from your technique and attitude as an improviser. In this masterclass, based on Genetic Choir’s Singing as a Swarm approach, we will totally focus on this special situation: How to create meaningful music when the music is not prepared and set? We have a small group and therefore can focus on your personal habits of standing in front of an audience with your bare hands. It is a masterclass for improvisers with experience. Maybe you have improvised a lot in different workshop circumstances already but seldom as a solo or duet performer and you want to develop that skill. Maybe you already have a lot of experience as a solo improviser but want to be challenged on what you usually do and get new inspiration through the Genetic Choir approach of instant vocal music. We will have a playful and absorbing weekend as we will perform Duets (in fact an extended solo situation), as well as Solo’s (which is a duet with yourself 🙂). Singing duets will teach us about singing solo and vice versa.

See you on the weekend!

More info and/or to reserve your place, click here.

Online Lecture to join next Monday: “Making Dementia Matter Through Sound”

Invited by the University of Cologne, Germany, there will be a Zoom lecture to join for those of you interested in the dementia project of the Genetic Choir and our recently published article.

Here the official invitation:

Dear Research Community,

we cordially invite you to our next exciting lecture of the “Phenomenology of Dementia and Aging Network” on Monday, 22.04.2023, 14.00-15.30 (CET, online via Zoom), held by Thomas Johannsen (Amsterdam).

The title of the talk is: “Making Dementia Matter Through Sound – The Stem&Luister project of the Genetic Choir

Thomas Johannsen is artistic director of the Genetic Choir Ensemble in Amsterdam and co-author of the recently published article “Making Dementia Matter through Sound – The Stem&Luister project of the Genetic Choir”: https://geneticchoir.wordpress.com/2024/03/11/scientific-paper-published-making-dementia-matter-through-sound/

He will give an introduction to the article’s findings and the Stem&Luister project itself, in which singers of the Genetic Choir employ an experimental approach to the voice and ensemble improvisation to make meaningful contact with people in advanced phases of dementia. The project has been running for four years now in a care home in Amsterdam, followed by anthropologist Marjolein Gysels, who is the main author of the article.

Everyone is welcome, so please spread the word to anyone interested. 

Zoom-link: https://uni-koeln.zoom.us/j/91365214213?pwd=cWFRQnZKcjlMY3RzNEdISHMzU09GUT09

Meeting-ID: 913 6521 4213 

Password: 252346 

Best wishes from Cologne and Kassel, 

Dr. Erik Norman Dzwiza-Ohlsen, M.A. Ragna Winniewski & M.A. Christine Keller, 
Phenomenology of Dementia and Aging Network,
Husserl Archives Cologne/a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne/NAR

Nederlands Kamerkoor, Buckminster College and University of Cologne

Just a note today about the way Genetic Choir practice is spreading internationally…

Last week, Thomas was invited to give a Genetic Choir workshop to the young, international singers of the NKK NXT programme of the Dutch Chamber Choir (Nederlands Kamerkoor).

A week before, he spent two days in Brugge, Belgium, sharing Genetic Choir practice with the students and teachers of the Buckminster College, an initiative of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels to “reimagine international, interregional, intercultural education for ages 10-18”.

picture from the Buckminster College website

Upcoming is an online lecture for the University of Cologne, Germany, and the “Phenomenology of Dementia and Aging Network”, about Genetic Choir’s take on working with people with dementia in the Stem&Luister project. In the lecture, Thomas will give an introduction to the recently published article ‘Making Dementia Matter Through Sound‘.

We’ll share the Zoom link for the lecture as soon as it comes available.
UPDATE –> it’s on Monday 22 April, 14:00-15:30 and the Zoom link is here!

Scientific paper published: “Making Dementia Matter Through Sound”

Anthropologist Marjolein Gysels has been shadowing the Stem&Luister project of the Genetic Choir since many years now, and a paper she wrote about it, co-authored by Chris Tonelli and Thomas Johannsen, has last week reached the status of a peer-reviewed and published scientific article!

In the current issue of the journal ‘Voices’ (www.voices.no), published on 1st of March, 2024, the paper is featured up front. Look here for the journal’s website or download the article directly via this link if you want to read it, or share it.

The paper describes many hands-on situations that Genetic Choir singers encounter in the work with people suffering from late-phase dementia, and places the methods of the Stem&Luister project in the context of scientific discussion about improvisation, music therapy and healthcare.

“Improvisers Without Borders” – a project that should be kept in the air

Today a call on behalf of someone else: The French improvisers collective ‘Fondeur du Son’ is supporting the website ‘Improvisers Without Borders’ since its creation a number of years ago. The website, where improvisers from any country can make an account and get connected with others, was developed with EU funding, but now has to be maintained from other sources, just to keep it technically running.

It is a great networking resource for European Improvisers and should be kept in the air!

Fondeur du Son is now asking help for just the basic yearly IT maintencance of the website, and Genetic Choir just donated towards it, as we think it is an important thing for the European community of improvisers. Please consider supporting it too, even just a few euros are already helping to reach the crowdfunding goal (now at 69%)!

Here’s the place to be and contribute: https://www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/improvisors-without-borders-we-need-you-eb92c7db-4732-45c3-89b3-fc69a8275d79

Thanks already on behalf of all improvisers out there!

What’s in a song?

A song – there is so much inside! And it is not just the story, music and feeling that it expresses in its original form – each song can be seen as an Easter Egg of possibilities. Especially if you look it at from a Genetic Choir point of view.

Working with well-known-songs to improvise and create new music is a long term obsession of Genetic Choir work, and with the upcoming Old Songs, New Songs workshop on 9+10 March, we will have another weekend of improvisation research where everyone brings a song, and we see what we can do with it, musically, while instant composing together.

There are two places left in the group, so if you are interested, click here for the info and/or to subscribe.

Connecting Toronto with Amsterdam

Christine Duncan (from Toronto, Canada) was in Amsterdam and we shared a wonderful morning with a few Genetic Choir singers and improviser/musicologist Chris Tonelli singing, eating and talking.

Christine is the founder and leader of the Element Choir, which you could call family of Genetic Choir in the sense that they also love all sorts of human sounds, becoming music. 😃 The main difference is that the Element Choir is conducted while Genetic Choir is about the organism of singers swarm-composing themselves. The great thing about Christine’s way of working (a system of hand-signs that she researched and developed) is that she can easily work with big groups of 50 or 80 singers and very quickly instant compose with them, like she did in the Soundmakers project of Ineke Vandoorn and Mark van Vugt, that she came to the Netherlands for.

We had a lovely conversation, good food on the table and improvised for/with each other freely (Genetic Choir style) as a dessert. What a delightful encounter! Next time in Toronto?