Sunday, July 10, 2022

Daisy Press - Viridissima Virga

Daisy Press Announces You Are the Flower - Music from Hildegard von Bingen - Vol. 1
Debut Solo Album Out September 9
via StorySound Records
New York City vocalist Daisy Press has announced her debut solo album, You Are the Flower - Music from Hildegard von Bingen - Vol. 1., which finds her voice in communion with the 12th century composer, Hildegard von Bingen. Daisy’s deeply personal approach breathes new vibrant life into the world and work of the medieval visionary. Along with the announcement, Press has shared the first track off the record, “Viridissima Virga.”
You Are the Flower will be released on September 9 through StorySound Records. To celebrate the album’s release, Daisy will perform at the Catacombs of The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn from September 7 to 9 as part of the Death of Classical concert series The Angel’s Share. Ticket info available HERE.
Listen to “Viridissima Virga” via YouTube HERE
“This chant goes deep into the sights, sounds, smells, and sensual pleasures of the garden of Mary’s fecundity,” states Press. “It is set syllabically rather than melismatically, so its undertaking as a singer requires constant attention to rapidly moving text. This work does not require big melodic leaps or spinning out long lines; this is one of the more “easy riding” works that settles into a forward-moving storytelling groove, and is one of Hildy’s most iconic offerings to the Virgin.”
As a go-to, in-demand, classically-trained singer with a uniquely fearless and daring persona, for twenty years Daisy has had a career spanning the diverse musical worlds of nightlife, classical new music, and experimental pop. She sang and danced with the band Chromeo on late night TV and the rock festival circuit; she did Steve Reich with So Percussion at Alice Tully Hall and the Barbican in London; the Broadway run of The Devouring nightly featured her arrangement of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer;” she’s sung Morton Feldman at MOMA and George Crumb at the Miller Theater; in Austria she regularly serves as a soloist with renowned ensembles Klangforum Wien and Phace; at Brooklyn’s noted and notorious House of Yes, Daisy has presided as singer-in-residence and proclaimed high priestess, regularly collaborating with their in-house aerialists, dancers, and circus performers. 
Some years back, in the midst of all this activity, a little burnt out, she took some time off to collect herself and returned to music fresh, with a clearer goal in mind. As she began developing what would become You Are the Flower, Daisy knew that she wanted to sing simpler songs at slower paces, with the intention of prioritizing pleasure. “I wanted there to be a lot of beauty that I didn’t have to apologize for,” says Press.
She rekindled her relationship with the works of 12th-century mystic Hildegard von Bingen, which had started years ago in a graduate school program at Oxford under the tutelage of the rock-star theologian nun Sister Benedicta Ward. Back then they had jumped headfirst into the world and headspace of ancient Christian mystics whose visions and writings resonated with an overt, unapologetic language of sensuality.  
“I didn't actually think I’d ever want to do Hildegard's music,” Press notes. “But it was always there, waiting for me.”
After bringing her interpretations of Hildegard’s music into the world for a few years in a multitude of formal and informal performance settings, Daisy started recording these arrangements. “I'm not being precious or holy about it. I'm interested in screwing it up, making historical mistakes in the spirit of joy and exploration... Let's sex it up. Let's make it weird, let's make it wild. Let's make it come from the body.”
Of the six chants on the album, three celebrate St. Ursula and three celebrate the Virgin Mary; they all speak about a devotion to the feminine. St. Ursula was a Scottish princess martyr who chose not to marry and instead preserved her virginity for Christ, and who led a powerful band of women on a European tour proclaiming the virtues and power of virginity. The dramatically tragic and ironic tale of St. Ursula is a centerpiece for You Are the Flower  (and, indeed, also for a notable number of Hildegard's visions and works).  
“What unifies these St. Ursula pieces is virginity, but to me it's not about being sexless, it is a person who belongs to no other person. A woman who belongs to herself. Intellectually, spiritually, physically, emotionally – there is a solitary aspect to it, but so much fecundity comes from it.”
The words of Hildegard speak to reclaimed power, of taking up space and demanding autonomy. Even more so, the ecstasy of the body. Ursula's body. The Virgin Mary’s body. Hildegard’s body of work, and what her voice was for, birthing a unique consciousness into the world. 
Hildegard was 42 when she started having visions and started writing. She died in 1179, her work written over that 38-year period. So when Daisy approached the same time in her life, Hildegard seemed like an apt Patron Saint. With You Are the Flower, Daisy puts her own stamp on Hildegard's work. She rejects the notion that she knows anything for certain about the spiritual world, but she still invites listeners to go on this adventure with her, through her music; she has made something rock ’n’ roll, irreverent – a casually intense way of making music, in communion across the centuries with the sainted, celebrated Hildegard.
“In performance art settings I have a fake channeling relationship with her. It's almost a joke, but then it's also real. Who knows if we talk with dead people, but it's still a conversation. I'm starting from a place of not taking it too seriously, and letting it become serious and deep naturally, on its own.”
Track List:
1. Favus Distillans
2. Rubor Sanguinis
3. Viridissima Virga
4. Frondens Virga
5. Spiritui Sancto Honor Sit
6. Ave Maria O Auctrix Vitae
Missing Piece
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