Press

Possessing Nothing: John Cage Song Books

Kings Place – London

Deborah Nash

“We are immersed in action and distraction from every direction – performers are behind us and in front. Dam chants an unintelligible mantra from the side; Mitchener bangs a typewriter; Brenda Mayo slaps pink goggles over her eyes and addresses us in French. At a certain point, the performers assume the majesty of archetypes: the messenger, the trickster, the home-maker, the wild card.”

Sonia Boyce: We Move In Her Way, review: A curious power play at work

Ben Luke

“Mitchener is a distinctive presence and interacts with her body and the remarkable sounds she produces: speech, soulful singing, breathless percussive bursts, skittering across octaves.”

In Search of Julius Eastman

Ivan Hewett

“The steely self-possession of the words, the remorseless repetitions of both text and music, and the spell-binding intensity of the performers, above all reciter Elaine Mitchener, made for something both enthralling and moving.”

Apartment House

Anna Picard

“(…) Rzewski’s Coming Together (1971) opened the concert, ignited by the flame of Elaine Mitchener’s voice as she hissed and crooned and preached the words of Sam Melville, who died in the 1971 Attica prison riot. Ferociously expressive in voice and body, alert to the irony and beauty and misery of the text, Mitchener drove a thrilling performance by Apartment House, the pounding piano ostinato unflagging.”

Alexander Hawkins / Elaine Mitchener Quartet

Rob Harford

“It might have been their debut performance as a quartet, but the wealth and depth of individual talent shone through. Hopefully we won’t have to wait “all of [our lives]” for another gig. Sublime stuff.”

Constantly surprising and superbly executed jazz

John Fordham

“A soft groove from drummer Steve Davis introduced a steadily striding vocal theme, from Mitchener a torrent of bird-sounds and pugnacious exclamations, a graceful drift through the seductive poetry of 13th-century Persian mystic Rumi, and a scintillating flat-out vocal inventory of life’s detritus (…) over a catchy bassline. It was constantly surprising and superbly executed cutting-edge music built on winningly familiar foundations.”

Wysing Polyphonic review – who needs amps, when you’ve got vulture bones?

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

“Four performers improvised sound on assembled objects (…) with Elaine Mitchener dissolving into anxious glottal tics. She also created a memorable piece with Sam Belinfante, a couple throwing words at each other with the rainstorm hammering the roof celestially mirroring their plight.”

John Fordham

“These were remarkable reinventions by two fearless originals, but they were devoted to illuminating the emotional cores of timeless old songs.”

Freedom of movement

Philip Clark

“Conceived and performed by London based vocalist Elaine Mitchener, Industrialising Intimacy flickers into life at the point where any attempts at categorisation are doomed to fail. Mitchener herself calls the piece “An original work of contemporary music theatre, performed […] in collaboration with Dam Van Huynh, George Lewis and David Toop.” But its mash-up of composed music, free improvisation and input from a choreographer meets inside a hybrid form that has little to do with how modern composition, improvisation or dance are usually perceived.”