In the early stages of quarantine, two friends, composer/vocalist Magos Herrera and composer Paola Prestini, decided to create music remotely together with other prestigious musicians from their global community. From this collaboration Con Alma was born: an album of nine sonic experiences which translate the feelings of confinement and the experience that humanity collectively lived through during the pandemic.
Spearheaded by the two genre-defying women, the project takes inspiration from the surrealist paintings of Remedios Varo, with their timely and poignant themes of spirituality, nature, creativity, solidarity and purpose that pulse through the album. The music weaves an overarching narrative from texts by a broad selection of female bards through the centuries, with stories ranging from an ode to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and hope for our environment, to a story about what might have changed if Mary Magdalene had been invited to the table at the Last Supper, to the reincarnation of man, and the human soul represented through the joy of a bird’s song and flight.
The live evening will be directed by multimedia visionary Ashley Tata (who’s recent online performance of the play Mad Forest was praised by The New York Times as “fervently inventive... deeply moving... emotionally direct and lucid”), and projection designer Eamonn Farrell. The evening will include art by Kevork Mourad, and audience participation. As part of the process of creation, Con Alma in 2020 incorporated a social media campaign focused on “the sound of isolation," in which participants shared a video of their experience of isolation, and the responses were incorporated into the digital experience. This March, as the horizon clears for musicians to play on stage again, Con Alma will finally be presented in early 2022 as a live concert with an audience in a natural reserve in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), where much of the music was originally written, and at the famed Palacio Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
This March, two years since the beginning of the pandemic, the public has been asked to share their sounds of encounter-story, a sound or a song of a special encounter or reunion that symbolizes our emergence from the isolation of the pandemic. These will be threaded into the live performances at Bellas Artes and in San Miguel de Allende. This process will help create a world-wide chorus, separated by geography and in different languages but joined by intention and spirit.
The Con Alma documentary (in progress) is a poetic experience that elevates isolation to bonding and creation. A journey woven from collective memories of confinement, to the final concert, presented through archival material, animation by the visual artist Kevork Mourad and scenes filmed by the directors Marta Ferrer and Pedro González Rubio. It will be ready for distribution in 2023.