Open Your Ears
International Women's Day

In the Open Your Ears series we cover a wide range of music: from opera to electronica, from Björk to Tuvan throat singing. (seriously, if you haven’t heard about throat singing, you’re missing out!)

The 60x60 project from Vox NovusBut if you want to have your mind blown away minute-by-minute with new music, you need to check out a 60×60 concert!

In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we’re going to be focusing on the 60×60 Athena Mix, which exclusively features contemporary female composers from around the world.

What is 60×60?

Imagine listening to sixty musical masterpieces in exactly one hour while your eyes feast on psychedelic abstract video art, expressive contemporary dance, or a gargantuan timepiece ticking away each minute.

The Village Voice describes 60×60 as “channel surfing through experimental music” and the New York Times calls 60×60 “madness”.

So what is 60×60?

An explosion of sound art given in small tantalizing sound bytes.

Six Wings North, composed by Lynn Job, Dance by Michel Smithen 60×60 Dance (2010)

The 60×60 project is the brainchild of Vox Novus Director Robert Voisey. Voisey developed 60×60 as an innovative means of sharing contemporary music in a palatable way on an international scale.

In ten years, the 60×60 project has showcased thousands of composers in hundreds of international performances involving dance, visual art, and film in thirty-five mixes.

In 2010 60×60 Dance broke a world record, presenting 600 composers in a marathon ten-hour concert!

Each year Robert Voisey and members of Vox Novus jury a thousand musical works for the 60×60 International Mix and alternate mixes like the Pacific Rim Mix, the Canada Mix, the Order of Magnitude Mix, and the Athena Mix.

Planta by Lucrecia Ugena
Listen to how silence, percussion, and timbre are used together to create a distinctive sound environment.

The 60×60 Athena Mix accomplishes much in its showcase of talented women from a global perspective. The 60×60 Athena Mix is a creative way to celebrate International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the accomplishments and achievement of women around the world.

The 60×60 Athena Mix

The Athena Mix involves sixty electronic works by sixty talented women from around the world, including legendary composers Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Spiegel, Joan La Barbara, Alice Shields, Maggi Payne, Eve Beglarian, and eclectic electronica artists like Miss Diamond DJ. The first Athena Mix premiered at the Murray State University Athena Festival, a biennial celebration of music by women in Western Kentucky.

Bubble by Yoko Honda (2010)
Hear how the playful synthesiser melody is blended with bright decorative accompaniment.

The 60×60 Athena Mix, like all 60×60 Mixes, combines a dizzying array of experimental electronic music, popular styles, classical music, and everything in between.

Listen to the way the strings provide an unsettling context around the simple piano lead.

Nano Opera: The Rise, Triumph, and Fiery Demise of Robotika
by Sabrina Peña Young

“Nano Opera: The Rise, Triumph, and Fiery Demise of Robotika” is an exhaustive opera in 3 acts. In Act I we meet the fledgling Robotika adrift in outer space. During the riveting battle scene in Act II, the evil antagonist Teknilateroa betrays Robotika in a scintillating battle of wits. Act III begins with a massive explosion as Robotika accidently hits the big red button that destroys the galaxy’s second quadrant. The opera ends with Robotika’s ashes again adrift in the multiverse.

Compositions like Yoko Honda’s Bubble lightly play in an electronic environment, while works like Mary Simoni’s Fuga Nervosa turn a traditional Baroque style on its head. Other works like the author’s American Recall defy musical definitions and delve into the world of synthesis and sound art.

American Recall by Sabrina Peña Young
Unnerving… and based on a true story!

Fuga Nervosa by Mary H. Simoni
Can you follow the fugue? A frantic flurry of instruments whirl and twirl.

As each new composition plays, listeners are immersed in brief audio collages of children playing, random radio noises, ocean waves crashing, buzzing cityscapes, sci-fi soundscapes, and ethereal voices singing.

Listen to how the tones build gently, gathering musical momentum.

Hear the march created with sounds of industry and mechanism.

More from Vox Novus

Vox Novus promotes contemporary music through the 60×60 mixes and through a variety of other programs like Fifteen Minutes of Fame and the Composer’s Voice series.

Borrowing from 60×60, Fifteen Minutes of Fame involves fifteen original short acoustic works premiered at select classical music recitals for a specific performing musician or ensemble. The Composer’s Voice Series features works from living composers.

In 2013 60×60 celebrates a decade of music making with ten mixes including the New York Minutes Mix, the Voice Mix, and the Presenter’s Mix. Musicians from all walks of life and from all over the world join Vox Novus, advocating new music through performance and innovation.

You can find out more about all these projects and explore the music further on the Vox Novus site.

60×60 Concerts This Week

As part of the International Women’s Day celebration the 2012 60×60 Athena Mix will be presented at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Lancashire, UK on March 8th on the first floor of the Harris. The 60×60 Athena Mix will be playing continuously throughout the morning and afternoon.

The Women Composers Festival of Hartford will present the 60×60 Athena Mix March 9th at the Wilde Auditorium at the University of Hartford, Connecticut.

You can find out more about these events and other upcoming 60×60 concerts here:

Whether you like electroacoustic music, classical music, jazz, soundscapes, dance, experimental music, or anything in between, the 60×60 experience gives you the chance to immerse yourself in an unforgettable musical smorgasbord of sound and art.

We’d love to hear your comments about 60×60 and electronic music! Share links to your favorite electronic musicians and tell how you promote your music in the comments below.

International Women's DayKeep exploring:

Thanks to all the composers featured above for allowing us to include their music in this article.