Clarice Assad will be performing in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall at Trinity University on Tuesday night.
Clarice Assad will be performing in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall at Trinity University on Tuesday night. Credit: Courtesy / Amara Photos

Brazilian-American composer, vocalist, pianist, and percussionist Clarice Assad comes from a renowned musical family, having performed with her father Sergio, uncle Odair, aunt Badi, and cousin Carolina.

But since 2016, Assad has found a new musical family in the SOLI Chamber Ensemble, which has commissioned new work and helped to showcase her multifaceted, multigenre approach to chamber music, jazz, and traditional music from South America.

Assad performs the SOLI Exploração program Tuesday in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall at Trinity University. Music begins at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-concert talk with Assad and Ertan Torgul, SOLI artistic and executive director, at 7 p.m.

“We’re her Texas family,” Torgul said of the Chicago-based musician. “There’s such a family kind of feel when we perform together,” he said, in part because the SOLI musicians are game for her experimental sensibility.

As a teacher, Assad has invented a method called “Voxploration,” in which the voice and body combine as an instrument for improvisational sound experimentation. Such techniques will be onstage for the Exploração program primarily with a new piece titled Synthetico, a four-movement composition centered around voice box technology more common in rock music. The voice box allows a single voice to be expanded to multiple voices, creating a choral palette of harmony voices, or even making the human voice sound like an electric guitar.

As an arranger, Assad can make the ensemble feel like a bandoneon, Torgul said. That instrument is the basis of Astor Piazzola’s tango music, a concertina that sounds like a combination of the human voice, a wind instrument, and a string instrument.

“It’s a very cool arrangement, and it needs to be recorded,” which would ideally be phase three of SOLI’s collaboration with Assad, Torgul said.

Phase one will be Tuesday’s concert, phase two would be a potential tour – at least around Texas, if not Chicago and beyond, Torgul said – and phase three would be recording the music for wide release.

Recording would cement the collaboration and bring Torgul’s involvement with the Assad family full circle. Torgul has performed with Assad’s father, Sergio, and uncle Odair, both well-respected classical guitarists, several times over the years, he said, and once he discovered Clarice’s “beautiful, unique voice in composing,” the idea of inviting her into the SOLI family was obvious.

The first performance of Assad’s Synthetico on Sunday, which Torgul called “pretty crazy and funny,” left him tired but thrilled, he said, promising more of the same on Tuesday.

Tickets for SOLI Exploração are available here, with $25 regular admission and $10 admission for students.

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...