Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Musician Sxip Shirey to team up with local performers for Abu Dhabi show

The American composer and performer will host an edition of his popular ‘Sxip’s Hour of Charm’ show in the UAE

Sxip Shirey will present two shows as part of NYUAD Arts Centre's 2019-2020 performance programme. Courtesy NYUAD Arts Centre
Sxip Shirey will present two shows as part of NYUAD Arts Centre's 2019-2020 performance programme. Courtesy NYUAD Arts Centre

Circus composer and musician Sxip Shirey (pronounced “skip”) is bringing his experimental and entertaining Sxip's Hour of Charm show to the UAE.

Part of NYUAD Art Centre’s fifth season of shows, Sxip's Hour of Charm: Abu Dhabi will feature a variety of performances by UAE-based artists, which Shirey will co-curate with the centre’s artistic director Bill Bragin, as well as the musician’s own signature experimental compositions. The one-night-only show is set to take place on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

The centre will also present The Gauntlet, a performance piece by Shirey crafted in collaboration with dancer Coco Karol on Friday, April 17.

“We're thrilled to also add to the season two performances by Sxip Shirey, a composer who also comes from a strong history in circus,” said Bragin.

“We originally met when I programmed Sxip's Hour of Charm at Joe's Pub in New York, and fell in love with his sensibility – that of a classic carnival barker, curating shows full of surprises, including beatboxers, musicians, clowns, and his own inventive and janky object-based music.”

New York-based Sxip Shirey is known for compositions that blend folk, gypsy punk and beatbox styles
New York-based Sxip Shirey is known for compositions that blend folk, gypsy punk and beatbox styles

Shirey is known for compositions that blend folk, gypsy punk and beatbox styles. His array of bizarre instruments, which he devises himself, include The Industrial Flute, Mutant Harmonicas, Obnoxiophone and the Regurgitated Music Box.

Previous editions of the show saw Shirey performing with Reggie Watts and Amanda Palmer, plus acts by contortionists, aerial artists, acrobats and sword swallowers, influenced by his time at The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus in the early 2000s. He has also written music for Neil Gaiman’s short film Statuesque and has toured with the circus show Limbo in Australia and the UK.

'The Gauntlet: Abu Dhabi'

Shirey has also collaborated with Coco Karol on a choral and movement piece titled The Gauntlet: Abu Dhabi, which promises to be an immersive and intimate experience for visitors. The performers will not sing on stage, but will arrange themselves in a formation that visitors have to walk through.

As they do, the choir ‘pass along’ musical phrases to each other, producing waves of sound that build across the room. The ‘lyrics’ have been drawn from interviews with various local cultural figures and artists.

Dancer and choreographer Coco Karol performing 'The Gauntlet'
Dancer and choreographer Coco Karol performing 'The Gauntlet'

Karol, a trained classical dancer who began her career with the Boston Ballet, has choreographed the piece and will interact with the choir and visitors as the performance unfolds.

According to Bragin, Shirey has a way of finding spaces that have sonic potential.

“Sxip visited a few years ago and we shot a series of informal musical improvisation videos in some amazing acoustic site on campus," he said.

"I'm excited that we'll be able to activate yet another new space on campus which hasn't yet been thought of as a performance venue, and immerse audiences in music in a new and surprising way.”

For a full list of shows for the NYUAD Art Centre's 2019-2020 season, visit www.nyuad-artscenter.org

Updated: August 27, 2019 12:46 PM

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