Alice Shields’ White Heron Dance was selected to be performed at the 2020 ISCM World New Music Days in New Zealand.
Alice Shields is a master composer. Her substantial body of work, built up over several decades, spans many different forms and media. It exhibits an inspired combination of imagination and insight into the demands required by the musical means at hand. Her most recent dramatic works are ambitious in scale and scope, casting their view over a broad cultural horizon. They are executed with flair and confidence. It is a pleasure to be able to bring her work to the attention of a wider audience.
White Heron Dance is a shamanic ritual in sound in which a human being experiences a moment of union with nature in the form of a Great White Heron. Shields has compiled sounds for this piece from the cries of herons, hawks, eagles, songbirds and the human voice. The composer also recorded Noh performer Mayo Miwa singing the ritual song in the folk style used by the Shinto priests and in the elaborate Noh recitational style. Shields studies Noh Theater with Miwa, who suggested the ancient Japanese Shinto ritual Sa-gi Mai upon which the piece is based.