"Mourning Into Battle" Music: Mikael Sandgren
Vocals & Vocal Harmonies:
vocalist • composer • teacher
Moira's Bio: Moira Smiley is a Singer / Composer who travels the world as a soloist and musical director, and creates new work for vocal ensembles, dance, theater and film. Her voice is heard on feature films, BBC & PBS television programs, frequently on NPR, and on more than 60 commercially released albums. Recent performances include TED, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, the London Proms Festival and features on KPCC’s Off Ramp and ABC Australia’s Books & Arts programs. Moira’s recordings feature spare, vocally driven collections of warped traditional songs, original polyphony and the playful energy of body percussion. She tours regularly with her group VOCO and has sung with leading vocal artists around the world – including Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, KITKA and New World Symphony. While studying piano performance and Early Music at Indiana University, Moira was represented by IMG Artists Agency and toured nationally with her vocal group, VIDA. VIDA and (currently) VOCO have been featured at Lincoln Center, UCLA Live, Royal Festival Hall and music festivals across the U.S., Canada and Australia. Moira is in high demand as a vocal clinician and receives commissions to write for vocal ensembles around the world.
Moira's story so far... Traveling from her hilly Los Angeles perch, she leads her fiery roots vocal-band, moira smiley & VOCO, travels the world as a soloist in early and traditional music and creates new work with dance, theatre and film. Moira was born in rural Vermont, moved to Indiana to pursue a piano performance degree at IU School of Music, and finished with a degree in Early Music Vocal Performance and several recordings for Harmonia Mundi USA with Paul Hillier. Moira fell in love with Bloomington, traveling by music and the art of performance whilst at IU, and toured with her vocal quartet, VIDA, singing a cappella folk song from Eastern Europe and various other vibrant harmony traditions. VIDA came to be represented by IMG Artists, recorded three CDs of folk and original songs, and had an exciting seven year career that culminated in concerts at Lincoln Center and other prestigious fine arts and folk venues in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Moira’s mother tongue is probably traditional folk song. In 2002 she moved to California to deepen explorations of Eastern European vocal music with the renowned KITKA ensemble. KITKA's rigorous touring and recordings combine traditional songs and ground-breaking new works like “Rusalka: Between the Worlds” with Ukraine's Mariana Sadovska. Studying Irish Sean Nós (old-style) singing and Appalachian ballad and dance-song began to combine with several stints in Europe doing physical and site-specific theater with various companies (see links). Moira has been Musical Director for Shakespeare Santa Cruz and renowned dance-theater productions, and seeks sad clowns and stilts everywhere. She recorded a solo CD, “Rua”, of Irish, Appalachian and her own songs – “rua” means “red” in gaelic. With moira smiley & VOCO, Moira finds home for her songwriting and arranging for four female voices, cello, banjo, percussive movement and accordion. Plaintive, modal, communicative, lush vocal music makes VOCO a growing favorite for both fine arts and festival audiences - who love the improvisation and folk roots. New, Early, Experimental art music is a constant teacher and point of return. She enjoys challenges from Stockhausen's "Stimmung" to the role of "Sorceress" in Purcell's 1690 opera "Dido & Aeneas" with The Concord Ensemble, and continues to perform a variety of art song programs in collaborations near and far. Growing up as an uber-serious little pianist, Moira's early loves were Béla Bartók, Debussy and Shostakovich - right next to Fats Waller and early american shape-note singing. Her love of Bartók's short pieces for piano inspires her ongoing project "Bartók Sings". Moira taught a semester at University of Birmingham (UK), sung and recorded with the acclaimed Theater of Voices, Fretwork Consort of Viols, The Dufay Collective, and Sinfonye - much inspired by her collaborations with English singer, Vivien Ellis. In 2002, she won the Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship for Medieval Music, given by the Sequentia Ensemble, and recorded Disc three of the Complete Hildegard Works with Sinfonye (Celestial Harmonies).
Moira was 'the voice' for BBC/PBS Sir David Attenborough's famous "The Life of Birds" and Marie Antoinette’s voice in feature film "The Affair of the Necklace.” She continues to record for various other film and television productions now and again. See/hear her on film in "Appalachia: The Endless Forest" with music by Steven Faux/Burning Gold Productions.
Writing music since the age of six, Moira focuses on voices-as-instruments, and in harmony. She has received a Meet the Composer Grant, an American Composers Forum "Subito" grant, and Durfee Foundation grant for her composing work. In 2007, her song "Stand in that River" won Best Original Song in the National Harmony Sweepstakes (at the same time that moira & VOCO became National A Cappella Champions). Several of Moira's songs are sung around the world, and even passed into the oral tradition - coming back to Moira as "an old song she might like"! Moira’s soundtracks for St. Louis dance-theater company GVDT and AnnonyArts have produced two lush CDs called “Sacred Ground and “Changing Woman” – the latter written for Masked Choir and dancers.