Friday, April 1, 2016

Jenni Roditi interview

I would like to introduce Mind Body Spirit Magazine readers to Jenni Roditi: Please tell us something about yourself Jenni:

I’m a vocalist and composer and I live in North London. I studied composition at the Guildhall and Brunel University, which I adored and which provided me with the technical tools which still underpin my musical work. I’ve written two chamber operas, and a variety of other orchestral and choral works, and continue to compose alongside my teaching and therapeutic practice.

What’s your background?

I’ve been involved in music all my life. I wrote down my first song when I was six years old. By eight, I was regularly writing songs with the guitar. By my teens I had branched out into piano instrumentals and by the time I became an adult at eighteen I was getting clear that I wanted to make music, ‘being a composer’ my profession. I did a training but was always looking outside the box of being classical musician, while at the same time seeing what the new world of contemporary music was doing – questioning everything. It wasn’t easy to know where I was going, but I met some great people and followed my instincts. After college I was doing a mixture of writing new pieces and participating in creative community music projects. The year after I left I was asked to return to my alma mater to teach improvisation to the under graduates. I did this for a few years while continuing my other activities. Then there came a turning point at the end of my twenties. I left my teaching post and started to really get into experimenting with my voice. I made an album of songs with guitar and very ‘left field’ vocals. The next thing I know I had been commissioned to write an opera. I was thinking my career may be about to veer off into avant-garde rock, but it turned the other way towards avant-garde opera, with a twist of the rock singer getting a good look in too, in this unexpected new context. Things have unfolded from there with all these different elements in play in one way or another.

I’m also interested in the shared territory between music, spirituality and well-being. In 2012 I created Vocal Tai Chi, which draws on my work with other voice teachers, therapeutic voice work and spiritual practice. I’ve run (and still run) regular workshops on this from my North London studio. This develops the regular Salons des Arts which I ran for many years. These salons allowed time and space for artists from many different genres to come together to share and perform works drawing on many, many different traditions ranging from classical, folk, jazz, Indian, African, Middle Eastern, Chinese, contemporary classical, electronic, post modern, free improvised, ambient, to new age and gypsy. It was glorious!

What is TicTocSing?

This for me feels like a very natural evolution from what I’ve done before and also something startlingly new.

I wanted to explore a different way of making vocal ensemble music – one which is spontaneous and allows the creativity of the ensemble to shine through, and for the performance to take on a life of its own.  TIC – The Improvisers’ Choir is auditioned and the singers are trained and professional or semi-professional. 

We launched The Improvisers’ Choir (TIC) at the Vortex in Dalston late last year, and now comes The Open Choir (TOC) which is more informal, non-auditioned, and the singers won’t necessarily be trained, but the methods we use to make music will be similar. I’ve worked on a series of signals to communicate with the singers as they perform, and we’ll also do some devising, which is superb fun, and can be an enormously joyful and rewarding experience.

Who is the choir for?

Pretty much anyone can join The Open Choir (TOC), as long as they can hold a tune and are possessed of a sense of adventure and are open to the idea of improvisation. I’m hoping there will be time and space in our six-week rehearsal block to allow individuals who want to explore and develop aspects of their voices that they’ve not worked on before, and for many, the performance of a wholly improvised concert will be a new experience. It should be exhilarating for all of us!

At the moment we are London based, but The Improvisers’ Choir (TIC) is starting to explore the wider world of festivals and performances throughout the UK. And who knows, maybe beyond! TIC – The Improviser’s Choir can next be seen at the South Bank Centre on Sunday 20 March as part of the Chorus Festival.

The Open Choir (TOC) may follow suit on the festival front, who knows; for the moment this is a pilot project and we’re still at a relatively early stage in our evolution, although we’ve had a very encouraging start. We’re still recruiting for it. Anyone who’s interested in joining us on this musical adventure can pop over to our MeetUp page and register their interest. Rehearsals start on 4 April for six weeks and there’s a performance scheduled for Thursday 12 May. If people are unsure, they can also sign up to a one-off taster workshop to see what’s involved. The MeetUp page.

Anyone who’s curious can see taster videos that we’ve made available on YouTube and there are snippets of TIC’s Vortex concert also available on our website ( Those who are curious about my earlier musical works and my therapeutic approach can also see and read about this aspect of what I’ve done on my websites and

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