by Kathy Parsons
December 8, 2022
One of the things I love most about writing reviews is when a really unique artist's work comes across my desk and blows me away. Joseph Keckler is just such an artist - in spades!!! He is described as "a classically trained opera singer," "a wildly inventive performance artist," and "a dark comedy mastermind" as well as "a multifaceted creator who zeroes in on moments of daily life and spins them into absurd or affecting underworld voyages." The New York Times
calls him a “major vocal talent whose range shatters the boundaries with a trickster’s dark humor." And we're still just scratching the surface. Currently working on an album, a film, and a new series of videos, Keckler's work has been presented by Lincoln Center, NPR Tiny Desk (watch that here
), and many others. In 2019 he premiered two evening-length music performance pieces, Train With No Midnight
(Prototype Festival) and Let Me Die
(Opera Philadelphia) and toured the U.S. as the national opener for rock group Sleater-Kinney. Oh, and he also plays the piano!
The "Ghost Song" video tells a semi-autobiographical tale of time spent in a cabin in the woods while taking part in an art residency. After several nights of hearing rapid footsteps just over his head as he was trying to fall asleep, Joseph tried to figure out who or what it was that was keeping him awake. He consulted a friend who gave him a plan, and Joseph then had what would be considered a very close encounter with a ghost! The story is told in a combination of spoken word and mind-blowing opera singing. The singing is in Italian with subtitles, which are often laugh-out-loud funny - especially in the context of such a serious singing voice. Keckler's voice is extraordinary from a bass/baritone all the way to a very convincing soprano. Shot in a remote cabin in upstate New York, the whole video is extraordinary! The music for the video was recorded live at Coffey Street Studio in Brooklyn with Matthew Dean Marsh on piano and Lavinia Pavlish on violin. Creating the video was supported by Portland Institute of Contemporary Art as part of a larger project. Calling this video "different" is like calling the ocean "wet," so don't let this one get away!
"Ghost Song" can be viewed on Joseph's site
. There are many more videos on both Joseph's site and YouTube, so give yourself a rare treat and check 'em out!!!