polyphonic inquiry and comradery
ember is a budding group of singers in Viroqua, WI directed by community choir leader and artist Annie Zylstra. We emerge from the embers of the old time, lively singing cultures of the world which, like so many beautiful and natural things, face extinction in these increasingly industrialized times. Humbly and with good humor, we seek to form a new ecology of polyphonic singing by honoring old traditions of music whilst giving life to songs and sounds inspired from the valleys and ridges of our own home time and place.
We are a queer-friendly crew of all genders, orientations, backgrounds, and life stages. We learn through a mixture of oral tradition style call and response, lyric sheets, and traditional sheet music. Our repertoire includes music of Balkan, Scandinavian, Corsican, Georgian, Irish, English, Appalachian, shapenote, homemade, and modern western origin. We sing mostly for the sheer pleasure of quality social time, study, and the timeless sounding of real life harmony and dissonance together, but will share and perform when called upon. Those who join us should be prepared to learn with full (fun) focus and bodily engagement. If you are familiar with Annie's choir leading, this is the advanced edition. No specific musical ability is required, but be aware we will be engaging in in-depth learning of complex material over time.
Pirin babas sing in the street at Breznica in footage from Annie's travels in Bulgaria.