«We sang with Björk»

Mexican Cornucopia choir talks about their experience of working with Björk

After 8 succesful venues at The Shed, NY, the next stop of Cornucopia: Björk's multimedia-theatrical most elaborate show yet, would be Mexico City. This time she wanted to make it even more special by hiring a local choir.

Less than a month until the first show, auditions started. Interested parties were given a score so they could record a video performing it, this video would later be watched by Björk herself and the team. In the end the chosen one was Staccato, a choir from the UNAM directed by master Marco Ugalde.

Staccato choir rehearsing a Björk score

Bergur —Cornucopia's musical director—, confessed a member of the choir that he was feeling nervous, since to that point, all the choirs they had previously worked with, had been studying the music for at least three months before they started giving shows. «We had to do it in two weeks» Elisa Schmelkes member of Staccato said.

«They didn't bring their show: we did something together».

Coming from a classical music background, and therefore being used to small and quiet stages, the choir had to make quite an effort to adapt to a whole new world of euphoria, with thousands of people yelling and dancing, a bass that vibrates all across the venue and a lot of distractions.

«Soon we learned you can't keep up with Björk, because she sings something different everytime. We had to be the solid base for her to be able to improvise".

As reported by Elisa Schmelkes, "Hidden Place" was one of the hardest pieces to perform, because the arrangement was full a capella [...] "If we got lost, there wasn't any other instrumental track that could guide us, it was just her and us. [...] Apart from being focused on our lines, we had to keep going when Björk decided to do something crazy (like hitting the floor with her feet when she gets excited). As concerts went by, we got more comfortable, Björk felt that too, so she started to improvise over us. In the last two concerts we really felt we were jamming with her, creating something new, ephemeral and unique."

Read the full testimonials of Staccato members (in Spanish) here

March 3, 2020