23.8.2019, 17:00-12:00, Jiří Myron Theatre
17:00 Square Msgr. Šrámka
Dieter Schnebel: Harley Davidson (2000)
• Harley-Davidson bikers
• Members of Ostravská banda
• Steffi Weismann, realization
17:30 Theatre Foyer
Julius Eastman: Crazy Nigger (1979)
• Joseph Kubera, Daan Vandewalle, Alexandr Starý, Miroslav Beinhauer, Pianos
18:40 Theatre Hall
Klaas de Vries: Stringed (2018)
• Jan Rokyta, Cimbalom
19:40 Theatre "12"
Alois Hába: Suite for Cimbalom (1960)
• Daniel Skála, Cimbalom
Peter Eötvös: Psy (1996)
• Malgorzata Hlawsa, Flute
• Daniel Skála, Cimbalom
• Juho Laitinen, Violoncello
Alexander Held*: Perpetual Motion (2018)
• Žaneta Vítová, Accordion
Luciano Berio: Sequenza XIVb (arr. Stefano Scodanibbio, 2002-04)
• František Výrostko, Contrabass
Robert Stricklin*: Iphigenia (2018)
• Stephanie Liedtke, Bassoon
Miro Tóth: Havířov (2014, rev. 2019)
• Andrej Gál, Violoncello
Horatiu Radulescu: Immersed in the Wonder (1996)
• Juho Laitinen, Violoncello
21:50 Theatre Hall
Peter Ablinger: In G (2009-16)
• Matthias Lorenz, Violoncello and Electronics
Benjamin Patterson: Variations for String Bass (1961)
• James Ilgenfritz, Contrabass
La Monte Young: Composition 1960 #7 (1960)
• ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra
23:30 Theatre Foyer
Petr Kotík: The Plains at Gordium (2014)
• 6 percussionists of Ostravská banda and ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra
00:30 Theatre Hall
Elliott Sharp: Sylva Sylvarum (2014)
• Gareth L. Davis, Bass Clarinet
01:05 Theatre Foyer
Jon Myers*: Articulation (2018)
• 8 percussionists of Ostravská banda and ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra
Danni Song*: A Wander in Differences (2018)
• Martyna Zakrzewska, Miroslav Beinhauer, Piano
01:30 Theatre Hall
Robert Ashley: El Aficionado & Atalanta
• Thomas Buckner, Voice and Electronics
Nikolaus Schlierf: Evolution (2019)
• Nikolaus Schlierf, Viola and Electronics
02:25 Theatre Foyer
Alvin Curran: Inner Cities (1993-2005)
• Daan Vandewalle, Piano
06:30 Theatre Foyer
Morton Feldman: For Philip Guston (1984)
• S.E.M. Ensemble
11:30 Ostravice river bank, under the Miloš Sýkora Bridge
Theo Finkel*: Super-Ostrawitza (2019)
• members of Ostravská banda
BRUNCH + Q&A with composers and musicians at Club DOCK
*residents of Ostrava Days 2019 Institute
There is a long history of extended performances in music and theatre. To mention a few such recent performances: Robert Wilson’s 12-hour opera productions, as well as many five to six-hour long compositions by La Monte Young, Philip Glass, Petr Kotík and Morton Feldman (incidentally, Feldman’s five-hour long For Philip Guston will be performed by New York’s S.E.M. Ensemble at the festival). The closing event of Berlin’s MaerzMusik Festival, “The Long Now” (30+hours long) is another example. In Ostrava, as in Berlin, there will be folding beds and refreshments available for the entire 18-hour “The Long Night” event. It will be organized in cooperation with the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre, and will take place in the newly reconstructed Jiří Myron Theatre. From Friday afternoon until Saturday morning, the audience will be free to roam through the individual halls, foyer, restaurants and cafés while listening, eating, dreaming. “The Long Night” will begin outdoors, where Steffi Weismann will direct German composer Dieter Schnebel’s piece Harley Davidson (for nine riders on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with musical accompaniment). “The Long Night” will conclude on the banks of the river Ostravice, located on the border of the Moravian and Silesian parts of Ostrava, with Theo Finkel’s composition Ostrawitza. To mention a few compositions of “The Long Night”: a four-hour excerpt from Alvin Curran’s Inner Cities for piano, performed by Daan Vandewalle, and Julius Eastman’s Crazy Nigger for four pianos.
The S.E.M. Ensemble's performance of Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston at Ostrava Days 2019 is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Subject to change.
German composer Dieter Schnebel (1930–2018) began his studies at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg in 1949, simultaneously attending lectures given by Martin Heidegger at the University of Freiburg, and forged close contacts with the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music. Schnebel then studied Protestant Theology, Philosophy and Musicology in Tübingen from 1952 to 1956. He was subsequently employed as a teacher and pastor in Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt am Main and Munich. A position as professor for experimental music and musicology was specially created for Schnebel at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin in 1976, a post he occupied until becoming professor emeritus in 1995. Schnebel was originally a strict serial composer, before an increasing anti-dogmatism spurred him on to develop experimental concepts and compositional methods in which he exploits the use of the human voice in previously unknown dimensions, ranging from whispering and wheezing to screaming. He also produced compositions of a sacred character. Through the creation of the theatre group Die Maulwerker at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste, Schnebel was able to systematise his open work concept, which was only partially based on Fluxus, in which the musicians were instructed to participate in spatial actions involving the unconventional utilisation of their instruments and voices.
The composition Harley Davidson by Dieter Schnebel for 9 Harley Davidson motorcycles, trumpet and synthesizer celebrates the sound of these cult machines. The engine noises are staged in interplay with the sounds of the trumpet and synthesizer in their entire bandwidth: rattling, chugging, rumbling, howling, honking, flashing… The basic tones H (B) and D are played again and again through targeted throttling. The choreography of the 9 heavy machines is a spectacle that Schnebel composed in 2000 and reworked in 2007. He was inspired not only by the specific sound of the motorcycles but also by the cult film Easy Rider (1969). He conducted the premiere himself; Steffi Weismann conducted two performances of this piece in Switzerland (Schlossmediale Werdenberg, 2013 and Dada-Festspiele Zürich, 2016). It has always been realized in collaboration with local Harley Davidson drivers.
Crazy Nigger – the provocative title of this composition by Julius Eastman (1940–1990) may surprise or even disconcert those who come across it. However, the disruption of, and non-compliance with conventions and means of society’s functioning (usually derived from the “ideal” of white heterosexual men) was an inseparable component of this artist’s life and work. Eastman never masked who he really was – to the contrary, his self-acceptance formed the very foundation for his artistic freedom: “What I am trying to achieve is to be what I am to the fullest – Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, a homosexual to the fullest.” It must be said though that the majority of American society in the 70s and 80s was not prepared to accept someone who so openly expressed his nonconformity. Even though he made his mark in the 70s as a performer of new and experimental music (he was, for example, one of the founding members of the S.E.M. Ensemble) and frequently appeared in concerts, his own work was rather overlooked. In the early 1980s, Eastman lost his stable source of income, and problems connected with alcohol and drug abuse started to manifest in his behavior. This talented artist eventually became homeless (which led to the loss of some of his recordings and scores) and we do not have much information about the end of his life. He died at the age of 49.
Eastman’s musical language draws on the concept of minimalism, but he was also influenced by jazz and popular music. Of particular interest is his concept of “organic music,” in which individual musical phrases contain elements from previous sections, which are gradually expanded and modified, causing the natural growth of a musical structure. It is precisely this compositional strategy that he utilized in Crazy Nigger. Despite having been written for any number of similar instruments, for practical reasons it is most commonly performed on four pianos. The composition belongs to Eastman’s Nigger Series,which also contains the compositions Evil Nigger (1979) and Gay Guerrilla (1979). Already, the first tones of Crazy Nigger strike the listener with their unparalleled energy and vigor – it is a sonically intense work, which takes its “physicality” and extreme involvement in performance from minimalism. Eastman’s compositions are, to a certain extent, affected by the story of his life and the social environment in which he worked – maybe it is for this reason that they provide the listener with the possibility to experience such an unusual sense of freedom and resistance.
Klaas de Vries (1944) studied piano, music theory and composition in Rotterdam and The Hague. After finishing his composition studies with Otto Ketting, he studied for a year with Milko Kelemen in Stuttgart. Between 1968 and the present, he has written compositions in all genres from solo works and chamber music to choral and orchestral pieces, as well as five medium to large scale musical theatre productions, including A King Riding, and Wake. His music is regularly played by The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Radio Philh. Orchestra in Holland, as well as abroad by Boston Musica Viva, Ensemble Modern, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and various other ensembles. de Vries has worked together with soloists such as Ellen Corver, Liza Ferschtman, Rosemary Hardy, Derek Lee Ragin, Maria Orán and of course his wife Gerrie de Vries (mezzo-soprano), and conductors such as Arie van Beek, Peter Eötvös, Reinbert de Leeuw, Peter Rundel, and many others. He has twice received the Matthijs Vermeulen-prize, the most prestigious composition prize of Holland. He has worked as a composition and instrumentation teacher at the conservatoires of Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam, and regurarly gives masterclasses and lectures.
Stringed for string quartet and cimbalom was written at the request of The DoelenKwartet on othe ccasion of their 25th anniversary. The idea of combining the cimbalom with the string quartet came from Frank de Groot (the primarius of DoelenKwartet) and proved to be a great source of inspiration. All instruments have strings that are touched directly by sticks, bows or fingers. The strings are either beaten or plucked (cimb.) or bowed, plucked and beaten (the quartet). Stringedis a piece in seven parts, seven being an expansion of the number five (the number of instruments) permitting the same symmetrical structure: with the number four as the central part and the other numbers arranged symmetrically around it. This means that the numbers three and five, two and six, and one and seven are related. According to this symmetry, the movements explore different relations between the quartet and the cimbalom from cimb. solo (mov. three and five) to completely integrated (mov. four). The symmetrical structure also determines the use of different tempi and lengths of movements. The central movement (Elegy) is the longest, slowest and most lyrical and the cimbalom solos are the fastest and most rhythmical, while the piece is rounded off by movements one and seven. Both are very introverted and based on a simple melody played on the cimbalom with a frequent use of subtly specified overtones. Without being conscious of any explicit influence, I would like to regard this piece as being my humble contribution to this line: Beethoven – Brahms – Janáček – Bartók – Ligeti.
Klaas de Vries
Allegro moderato – Andante cantabile – Allegro energico
The compositional and music theory legacy of Alois Hába is inseparably connected with his microtonal systems. In the conservative and markedly restrained musical world of interwar Czechoslovakia dominated by late Romanticism, such alternative tuning techniques were considered overtly avantgarde. Hába was one of the few Czech authors in this period whose original thoughts and music works passed the requirements to be “exported” abroad. In a meticulous and thoughtful way of “inventing” his own musical language, this composer could equal even Arnold Schönberg. The interest in Hába’s microtonal compositions, however, slightly overshadow the artistic value of his compositions that were composed in a “standard” twelve-tone tempered chromatic system, such as Suite for Cimbalom, op. 91. Yet, it is precisely in these works that we can focus on the second component of Hába’s musical language, which, along with microtonal systems, forms his conception of “Liberated Music” (“Musik der Freiheit”), or the so-called athematism. It is not easy to define the above-mentioned term exactly, as it does not signify music devoid of themes. Rather, Hába defies traditional motivic/thematic work and lets the music material in his compositions expand and crystallize into unique forms. We can observe this process in the Suite for Cimbalom,which the composer completed in November 1960, making it a rather late composition in the author’s oeuvre. At the time, Hába gravitated towards brevity of musical expression, and for this reason the internal architecture of the work creates an impression of overall moderateness. It does not produce any sense of excess, despite all the formal looseness. Since the composer came from the village of Vizovice in eastern Moravia, he had ample experience with folk music. The choice of cimbalom might suggest that Hába was attempting a reminiscence of motives or progressions from folk music. In this composition, the author also “liberates” the cimbalom from its context and presents it as a full-fledged concert instrument of its own.
Composer, conductor and teacher: the Hungarian Peter Eötvös combines all three functions in one very high-profile career. Born in Transylvania in 1944, he has long been considered one of the most significant and influential personalities on the music scene as both an internationally recognized conductor, and a composer of successful operas, orchestral works and concertos, written for well-known artists from all over the world. His latest compositions include Secret Kissfor ensemble, Alhambra, a concerto for violin and orchestra commissioned by Festival Granada, and chamber pieces like Lisztomaniafor piano, and Joycefor solo clarinet. Eötvös attaches great importance to passing on his extensive knowledge and experience to others. He has taught at the music college in Cologne and Karlsruhe, and gives regular masterclasses and seminars throughout Europe. He established the International Eötvös Institute in 1991, and the Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation in 2004 in Budapest for young composers and conductors. In addition to the roles listed above, Peter Eötvös is regularly invited as a guest conductor by some of the most important orchestras and opera houses.
PSY (1996) – “What good times those were! I was seventeen years old, and Gagarin took off. The world had no outer limits. In 1961, excited by the Big Bang theory, I wrote a piano piece with the title Kosmos. It was a glance into the infinity surrounding us. 32 years later, a retrospect, looking inwards, into the personal psyche of those days. A fragment from the orchestral work Psychokosmos, adapted for three instruments (flute, violoncello and cimbalom), has the brief title PSY.”
Born in Munich (Germany), Alexander Held started his music education at the Academy Deutsche POP where he was trained in Audio engineering and Music theory. After successfully obtaining his Diploma as a technical Audio engineer, Held started taking private composition lessons with the Munich based composer Dieter Dolezel for 3 years. In 2016 he was admitted for the Undergraduate Composition Program at the Manhattan School of Music where he studies under Reiko Füting. As a member of the 2018 Darmstadt Summer Courses, he participated in the CoSiMa IRCAM workshop and had his first interactive audio installation premiered while also participating in masterclasses with Brian Ferneyhough, Isabel Mundry and Johannes Kreidler. As a chosen resident, Alexander Held will participate in the Zodiac Festival and the Ostrava Days in the summer of 2019.
In Perpetual Motion for accordion, I am playing with the idea of having a simple motif that is being forced into different metric frames that either shorten, lenghten or alter the same material.
Berio’s Sequenza scan be characterized as extremely difficult solo works, which propelled instrumental and performance possibilities forward, and in fact codified new technical standards in the area of contemporary and experimental music. These compositions did not come to life in an “abstract” manner, in isolation from living practice. On the other hand, the individual Sequenzasare connected to prominent performers, with whom the composer consulted his intentions and whose technical mastership became a source of inspiration. This is exemplified by Sequenza VIIfor oboe (1969 – Heinz Holliger) and Sequenza XII for bassoon (1995 – Pascal Gallois). In these compositions, a specific feature of Berio’s compositional process comes to the fore: the author conceived of his works as “works-in-progress,” and developed various versions of already completed compositions (Sequenza IXa for clarinet – 1980; IXb for alto saxophone, IXc for bass clarinet – 1988). Over the years he spent working on Sequenzas, Berio also worked on a “parallel” cycle called Chemins (Pathways, or Routes), in which he presented the musical material of Sequenzasin a different context, primarily by bringing the solo instrument together with an ensemble of other instruments. For example, Sequenza VII became the basis of Chemins IV for oboe and 11 string instruments (1975). In this way, the composer put into practice his belief that it is impossible for one composition to deplete the entire potential of music material used in it. There is always the possibility for further elaboration. This suggested approach could be applied, to some extent, to the inception of Sequenza XIVb. During last years of his life, Berio became fascinated by the instrumental skills of the Italian double bass player Stefano Scodanibbio, and even envisioned writing a “double” Sequenzafor violoncello and double bass. However, this idea did not come to fruition, and he only composed Sequenza XIV for violoncello (2002 – Rohan de Saram). He did, however, invite Scodanibbio to collaborate with him on the creation of the double bass version of the piece: “[Berio] sent me the score [of Sequenza XIV for violoncello] […] asking me to ‘reinvent’ (that is the word he used) it for double bass. He didn’t want a transcription – this was very clear.“ Unfortunately, Berio died before this version was completed, but Scodanibbio still managed to discuss the work with the composer several times and succeeded in completing the double bass Sequenza XIVb in 2004.
R.S. Stricklin III, born in 1994 in Dallas, Texas, has had his music performed by members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, SYZYGY New Music Ensemble (Dallas), and artists such as loadbang and Frances-Marie Uitti. He is currently pursuing a MM in classical composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), studying with Reiko Füting. Current projects include a work for the MSM Composers’ Orchestra as well as a work for flute and electric guitar, written for MSM alumni Colton Chapman and Francesca Leo.
Iphigenia was written Fall 2018 for my friend Christopher Pawlowski, who premiered the piece in April 2019 in New York.
Miroslav Tóth (1981) is a composer and saxophonist hailing from Bratislava. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD studies at HAMU in Prague under Michal Rataj. He finished his master studies at VŠMU in Bratislava under Vladimír Godár and in the first three years he studied under Jevgenij Iršaj. In his compositional beginnings, he was mentored by Ilja Zelenka. He is also a graduate of musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava. Tóth is the author of the one-act opera Mystery of a Bar, the opera A Miraculous Bar for Clerks in Public Institutions, three video operas – A Tooth for a Tooth, Eye for an Eyeand The Pole, and an unfinished opera Outpark. His composition The Quartet of Tentacles Reaching Out was performed by Kronos Quartet and currently, he is preparing another composition for this ensemble. Furthermore, he is the author of the composition Theory of Absolute Sadness for soprano and orchestra, the cabaret suite BallOnAir or Requiem za mafiána (Requiem for Mafioso) for a cappella choir and contra tenor. In 2018, he won a Radio_Head award for his electroacoustic composition Kyberpunkomša (Cyber-Punk-Ceremony). He is a member of the bands Shibuya Motors, Thisnis, Frozen Wigwam, and Funeral Marching Band. As a saxophonist, singer and soundpainting conductor, he focuses on free improvisation, music using graphic scores that overlaps into the visual sphere, and on works with some degree of openness. He has composed the music to several feature films and regularly collaborates with Ivan Ostrochovský and Robert Kirchhoff.
The composition Havířov for Violoncello Solo is dedicated to civic activists who have stood up against the demolition of the train station in Havířov.
The creative path of the Romanian composer Horațiu Rădulescu can be viewed as a multifaceted exploration of space: of sound space (the sound spectrum, with its infinite harmonic series), of transcendental space, of the inner space of the listeners mind, and of performance space. Over the years, Rădulescu has continually refined his compositional style, but remains faithful to the very core of his early music, and to his idea of “sound plasma”. Rădulescu wanted to achieve a special state of sound beyond equal temperament, and beyond the separate categories of monody, homophony, polyphony and heterophony. The sounds do not need to be used as single points or lines, but as living entities, eventually as an embodiment of the acoustic Whole. This approach embraces all kinds of audible, and even inaudible elements, such as poetic texts and graphic symbols, whose silent reading can nevertheless influence the sound production.
Immersed in the wonder, op. 96 is a small jewel from the later years of Rădulescu, written in memory of Toru Takemitsu. The title is taken from the sixteenth chapter of Tao te Ching: “Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, / you can deal with whatever life brings you, / and when death comes, you are ready”. This piece presents an intimate dialogue between bass flute and cello. The framwork of the piece is shaped as a “distracted heterophony” of two (and later three) voices, with simultaneous performances of the same descending melody in different tempi. While this section is a mixture of well tempered tuning by bass flute and spectral tuning by cello, the culmination of the work (its middle part) consists only of the natural harmonics of a fundamental note, with the use of spectral cello scordatura. The high emotional tension, which emerges through the bass flute‘s rising harmonic row and the cello‘s arpeggios, is sharply interrupted by the return of the initial melody. The listener, having been taken in by the vivid sonorous waves for a short time, finds themself once again immersed in the world of static, ascetic sounds. The end of the work transmits a subtle feeling of unresolution, as if the cycle could be repeated over and over again. Return is the movement of Tao.
“Sounds are not sounds! They are here to distract the intellect and to soothe the senses. Not once is hearing ‘hearing’: hearing is that which creates me”. The composer Peter Ablinger (born in Schwanenstadt, Austria in 1959) is, as Christian Scheib once put it, a “mystic of enlightenment” whose “calls and litanies are aimed at cognition”. At the same time, the composer, who – after studying graphic arts – studied with Gösta Neuwirth and Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, and since 1982 lives in Berlin, is also a sceptic who understands the cultural rules and (destructive) habits enforced by tradition: “So let us play further and say: sounds are here to hear (but not to be heard – that’s something else). And that hearing is here to be ceased. More I can’t say.”
Christian Baier (translated by Bill Dietz)
In G. Harmony and electricity. There is virtually not a single space, be it inside or outside, through which electricity does not flow, and whose foundation is not formed by the electric spectrum. Electricity does not only determine our socioeconomic world, it also creates our acoustic environment. It became its precondition, and for concert halls all the more so (in fact more than in any other spaces). These places, originally constructed in order to isolate us from the socioeconomic world, are dependent on light and sound technologies, and are based on the precondition of electricity. The world is divided into countries with the electric current frequency of 50 Hz (for example countries in Europe) and 60 Hz (countries of Northern America). With the exception of railways and industry, the world is reduced to two harmonies. The 50 Hz frequency consists of the fundamental tone between G and G sharp in the contra-octave, and of all the corresponding harmonics. However, the tempered or “purely” intoned G or G sharp (irrespective of the octave) deviates from this pitch and necessarily creates diffusion or dissonance. Therefore, one single tone produces dissonance. Strictly speaking, harmonic music would only be possible if it was centered on the frequency of the electric current of a given place (and space). Everything else is dissonance.
Since childhood, La Monte Young has always been attracted to sustained tones and stable frequencies, which lack a “beginning” and an “end”, such as the sounds of electric wires or telephone poles. To a certain extent, his fascination by these sounds influenced his work and steered it in a certain direction. However, no less seminal for Young’s compositional development was his encounter with Indian music, Japanese gagaku and twelve-tone and serial compositions. While analyzing the works of Anton Webern, Young noticed “static” areas, in which the composer constantly presented pitches from the twelve-tone row in the same octaves. We could, for instance, imagine the exposition of the first movement of Webern’s Symphony, op. 21 as an unchanging and continuously reestablished twelve-tone chord. The described attribute of Webern’s works impressed Young, who tried to elaborate on it; the result was his breakthrough composition Trio for Strings (1958). In this approximately 60-minute long composition, Young uses sustained tones, which mutually overlap and combine with each other. The contemplative message of the work is underlined by vast “silent” passages. Another important impulse for the creative development of the young composer was his participation in the International Summer Courses of New Music in Darmstadt in 1959, where he became acquainted with the music of John Cage through the lectures of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The works of this artist made a great impression on Young – he began to employ chance operations in his works, which also began to feature conceptual scores consisting only of verbal instructions for the performers, such as Poem(1960). This composition can be considered a predecessor to his famous Compositions 1960,which were written shortly thereafter. These are purely conceptual works, which disrupt the conventions of the concert situation; it might be more accurate to refer to them as “manuals to happenings”. Some instructions are slightly outlandish, such as the instruction from Composition 1960 no. 5 to let out butterflies into the room in which the composition is being performed. Others have philosophical overtones, such as the instruction “draw a straight line and follow it” from Composition 1960 no. 10.A special position in the cycle is held by Composition 1960 no. 7, as it is the only composition, which – apart from the verbal instruction “to be held for a long time” – contains exact notation (consonance of B–F#). Young does not determine which instruments should be used in the performance, nor does he specify the context for the music. Young is in fact sharing his early memories of sustained static sounds, encouraging the listener to enter the inner structure of resonating harmonies.
Petr Kotik(born in Prague in 1942) has been an independent composer and musician throughout his professional life. A flautist and conductor, he performs both his own music and works by composers whom he regards as relevant to his own musical concerns. Kotik’s activities have always been guided by his sense of contextual issues within today’s art and music. Kotik’s abilities as a performer have enabled him to realize projects often thought to be unrealistic. The projects Kotik has undertaken succeed partly thanks to his association with outstanding musicians. Kotik has founded and dircted many music groups (Musica viva Pragensis and QUaX Ensemble in Prague, the S.E.M. Ensemble and Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble in New York, Ostravská banda and ONO Orchestra in Ostrava), and numerous projects ( The festival of “Music of Extended Duration” in Prague, Ostrava Days, New Opera Days Ostrava, and Beyond Cage Festival in New York). Although Kotik can be identified as a self-taught composer, he studied composition privately in Prague with Vladimír Šrámek and mainly with Jan Rychlík (1960–1963), and later studied at the Akademie für Musik in Vienna with Karl Schiske and Hanns Jelinek (1963–1966). Since the early stages of his career, Kotík has been influenced by the ideas and concepts of John Cage and later by the texts of Gertrude Stein, R. Buckminster Fuller, and Ezra Pound. His work spans symphonic compositions, chamber works and opera. Kotík is the artistic director of Ostrava Center for New Music and lives and works in New York City and Ostrava.
In 334 B.C. when Alexander the Great came to the Phrygian City of Gordium (located in what is today central Turkey), he was confronted with a puzzle no one had been able to solve. Alexander apparently solved the puzzle, but all that survives from the story is a parable – the legend of the Gordian knot. In the summer of 2004, I was facing many issues that seemed unsolvable. This may be why the legend of the Gordian knot came to my mind when deciding on the title of the composition.
The Plains at Gordium was composed between June and August 2004, and is dedicated to Charlotta Kotik. The incentive to compose the piece came from the Brno-based percussion ensemble DAMA-DAMA, who suggested that I compose a piece for them. DAMA-DAMA has only 4 members, however, while The Plains of Gordium calls for 6 percussionists. The scale of the piece also defies a standard composition for percussion.
Petr Kotik, New York, December 15, 2004
The Plains at Gordium belongs to a group of compositions that I started in 1971 and is based on a steady pulse. Because of the pulse that is shared by all players, these different compositions and/or their parts can be combined in a collage-like way and be performed simultaneously. The pulse is what unifies the different parts into a coherent whole. In a way, everything I composed during this period of the 1970’s can be regarded as one, endlessly continuous piece of music. The Plains at Gordium follows the same basic idea, without the intention of making a collage-like supperimposition on it – although this basically could be done. At some sections of Gordium, unlike the compositions from the 70s, the music takes off, doubling in tempo. Also, in addition to the set of four drums for each player, bells have been added.
Petr Kotik, New York, May 21, 2018
Elliott Sharp is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer. A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over 30 years, Sharp has released over eighty-five recordings ranging from orchestral music to blues, jazz, noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He leads the projects Carbon and Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and Terraplane and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction. His collaborators have included Ensemble Modern, Kronos Quartet, cello innovator Frances-Marie Uitti, multimedia artist Christian Marclay and others. Sharp is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and he received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition. He has composed scores for feature films and documentaries; created sound-design for interstitials on Bravo, MTV, and The Sundance Channel networks and has presented numerous sound installations in art galleries and museums.
Sylva Sylvarum – The score was created by processing notation with graphic editing software in the same manner that the composer would process the “physical” sound of instruments using hardware or software: modulating, filtering, layering, inverting, distorting, sequencing. The resultant images serve both as a score to the musicians and as retinal art. In the case of Sylva Sylvarum, over 250 images were sequenced and then layered with time-lapse photography and satellite videos of various regions of earth to form an animated movie. In performance, foreground and background shift: the performer both manifests the music and provides the “underscore” to the movie. The title refers to the Francis Bacon text first published in 1627.
Jon Myers (1988, Boston) is a composer, programmer, music-theorist, and musician living in Northern California. His current interests include just intonation, non-metric temporality, Hindustani music, ambisonic field recording/diffusion, modular and computer synthesis of dynamical systems, birdsong, and acoustic ecological simulacra. He is a doctoral candidate in algorithmic composition at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Articulation (2018) for large percussion ensemble – at least in one sense – strives toward articulating a syntax by constructing a language or set of meanings through repetition of sounds and patterns. In the other sense, the piece is an articulation of an algorithmically specified process, one that balances gradual morphological change in the temporal density ofindividual instruments against pattern repetition of individual players.Articulationis dedicated to Benjamin Myers, on the occasion of his first birthday.
Danni Song is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree in composition at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Reiko Füting. As an undergraduate student, he studied at University of California, Berkeley with French composer Franck Bedrossian. His works have been performed by the Byrne:Kozar:Duo, musicians at Manhattan School of Music and UC Berkeley.
The idea of A Wander in Differences comes from a classical Chinese text, Chuang-tzu, in which a person asks Chuang-tzu, “Since the sound of the earth is the sound produced by thousands of holes in the ground, and the sound of the human is the sound of the Pan flute, what exactly is the sound of the sky?” He answers, “The sound of the sky is produced by the wind blowing the holes. The sounds are so variant because the natural appearances of the holes are different.” He is suggesting that the natural structure of things is the creator of their unique sound. This idea inspired me to write a piece where sonic effects are achieved through the exploration of the natural structures of objects: the sounding objects and the tools are the creators of their own unique sounds.
eL/Aficionado– “Personal”, “My Brother Called” and “Viva’s Boy”
Atalanta (Acts of God)– “The Mystery of the River”
Robert Ashley (1930–2014), one of the leading American composers of the post-Cage generation, is particularly known for his work in new forms of opera. In the 1960s, during his tenure as its director, the ONCE Festival of New Music in Ann Arbor presented most of the decade’s pioneers of the performing arts. With the legendary ONCE Group, he developed his first large-scale operas. Along with David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma, he formed the Sonic Arts Union, a group that turned conceptualism toward electronics. Throughout the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, and produced his first opera for television, the 14-hour Music with Roots in the Aether, based on the work and ideas of seven influential American composers. In the early 1980s the Kitchen commissioned Ashley’s Perfect Lives, the opera for television that is widely considered the precursor of “music-television”. Stage versions of Perfect Lives, as well as his following operas, Atalanta (Acts of God), Improvement (Don Leaves Linda), Foreign Experiences, eL/Aficionado,and Now Eleanor’s Idea toured throughout the US and Canada, Europe and Asia during the 1980s and 1990s. A new group of operas was begun in 1999 when Kanagawa Arts Foundation (Japan) commissioned Dust, which was quickly followed byCelestial Excursions and The Old Man Lives in Concrete. He wrote and recorded his performance-novel, Quicksand(released in novel form by Burning Books). And his final opera, Crash, was completed in December 2013 for premiere at the 2014 Whitney Biennial Exhibition.
eL/Aficionado (1987) – Group of scenes from the life of an “Agent”. The scenes are a kind of “debriefing” to a jury of Interrogators, in which the Interrogators (chorus) challenge the Agent (soloist) in various forms of musical dialogue. The mood of the opera owes much to fascination with espionage and with the character of those people who lead double lives. For this performance of excerpts from the opera eL/Aficionado, the Agent is alone in an interrogation room and the Interrogators are communicating with him through speakers and microphones from the next room.
Atalanta (Acts of God) (1982–1987) – “The Mystery of the River” is one of the “Family Stories” from the “Willard” section of Atalanta (Acts of God). It explores the opera’s themes of collective memory, architecture, genealogy. “The Mystery of the River” was completed in this version for solo voice and electronics when the Angelica Festival (Bologna) asked for a new work.
Nikolaus Schlierf (1969) studied in Nuremberg with Hans Kohlhase, in Frankfurt with Jörg Heyer, and in Freiburg with Garth Knox and Johannes Lüthy. Between 1996 and 1998 he was a member of the youth orchestra of the German Philharmonic Orchestra, and from 1995 to 2006 he was the solo violist of Ensemble Resonanz Hamburg. Since 2001, he has performed with Sonar Quartett Berlin, and in 2001 was the soloist at the world premiere of Boris Guckelsberger’s Requiem for Solo Violaat the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He is a member of Ostravská banda and he is a regular guest of the chamber ensembles Berliner Ensemble, Neue Musik Berlin, and others.
Acoustics need the atmosphere.
What were the first buzzes, the first tone, the first sound? What sounded the first harmonic series?
Wind in the mountains...
Instruments were created by humans as the population grew, socialization developed and with it, high culture thrived in the society.
The clash of genders, inequality and injustice in the world, these too are the accomplishments of the evolution.
Organisms grow, merge and push out one another.
Darwinism rages on and the changing life conditions turn everything upside down.
Bacteria from the bottom of the seas belong to the oldest life forms in the world.
Is the sound at the beginning as well as at the end?
Alvin Curran makes music with anything, anybody, anywhere, anytime and has been doing so since 1965 as co-founder of the group Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV), creator of the Maritime Ritesproject (music on and around water), radio-art work Crystal Psalms (live from 6 nations), composer of the 6 hour piano piece Inner Cities, installation artist for Floor Plan / Notes from Underground (Ars Electronica 1990), Gardening with John,A Banda Larga (2018, in the streets of the city of Bologna), and Omnia Fluvium Romam Ducunt (2018–2019, installation at the Baths of Caracalla) and through numerous collaborations with prominent composers, improvisers, dancers, and ensembles. To name a few: Cornelius Cardew, Joan La Barbara, George Lewis, Pauline Oliveros, Frederic Rzewski, Daan Vandewalle, Ensemble Modern, Kronos Quartet, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, etc., and has also collaborated with numerous brass bands, free-improvisers and radio-producers from ‘round the world.
Inner Cities began in 1991 as a single, innocent piano piece, and has now evolved into a musical cycle of 14,5 pieces, sometimes performed (following Daan Vandewalle’s brilliant intuition) in its 6-hour entirety. My goal, as always, was to reduce the musical elements to their ultimate essences, to repudiate and embrace dualism, and to emulate, even in permanent notation, the feel of spontaneous music-making. The music therefore is as open, unhurried, brutally lyrical, quiet, private and tonal as it is raucous, aggressively impolite and obsessively meticulous in making the simple relations between tones and durations an unending adventure of personal wonder. Each piece starts with a single idea, chord, or cellular pattern, which serves as its own source of narrative and history. These could incorporate anything from the simplest melodicizing on a single tone, in Inner Cities 1, to a vast postmodernist sonata, as in Inner Cities 10 (in itself lasting over one hour), where the music no longer understands where it is coming from or where it is going.
From the very beginning of his career, Feldman’s compositions were notably influenced by visual art, especially by the works of abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and others. He found inspiration mainly in the relationships they built between the structure of the work and the materials used. Philip Guston, whom Feldman met at the beginning of the 50s, held a special status among abstract expressionists, and with time Feldman and Guston became very close friends. Their friendship, however, ended abruptly in October 1970 during Guston’s exhibition at Marlborough Gallery in New York. The artworks at the exhibition reflected a fundamental shift in his work and signaled a return to figurative painting. At the end of the 60s, Guston suffered a personal and creative crisis, which resulted in a complete transformation of his painting style. When Feldman looked at these new paintings, Guston leaned over and asked him for his impression. The composer found himself lost for words, and from that moment on, they never talked again. For Feldman, abstract expressionism was one of his most important sources of inspiration. Presumably, he simply could not get over the fact that Guston digressed from this movement in such a radical way. In a certain respect, Feldman’s composition For Philip Gustonfrom 1984 can be perceived as the composer reminiscing on his friendship with Guston and the time they spent together.
Similarly to Guston at the end of the 60s, Feldman found himself in a creative crisis at the end of the 70s. He felt doubt as to whether music was even a form of art or whether it was merely a sophisticated form of entertainment (i.e. showbusiness). His late work did not undergo such a striking turn as Guston’s, but rather, Feldman worked on refining the tendencies that he had established over his entire career – including the emphasis of the acoustic qualities of the music material, elaborating the decay of sound, “repetitions” of patterns, climaxless progression, the absence of general or privileged compositional system, and the overall openness of the form. The external feature of Feldman’s late compositions is the gradually increasing lengths, the result of the “requirements” of the music material used. The incessant “repetitions” of patterns, and reorganizations of the used patterns create an illusion: even if we do not listen to some passage in their entirety, when we resume listening, we can immediately identify “familiar” music situations. Therefore, listening to this work could be compared to a “walk” amidst multiple “copies of copies” of patterns or, as Feldman would put it: “…a bit like walking the streets of Berlin – where all buildings look alike, even if they’re not.”
Theo Finkel (1995) is a British composer who lives in South London, recently graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he studied with Sam Hayden, Nye Parry, and Gwyn Pritchard. He is interested in the avant-garde modernist trajectory and at the same time has a profound and genuine love of classical tradition, and strives to navigate productively between the two musical worlds. He has been long fascinated by musical instruments themselves, and has a fast-growing collection of specimens of many types in various states of playability. Finkel has a particular interest in the history and construction of woodwind and brass and their qualities and specific characteristics are a great stimulus to him in composition. He also improvises on the bass clarinet.
Super-Ostrawitza was written specially to mark the end of the expanse of the Long Night concert. I was asked to write a piece that continued the work of my Super-Thames Music (2018). However, the substantial difference in scale between one river and the next proved to be very significant. The piece explores how different instruments carry sound out in the wide open and the spatialisation is also used for dramatic effect.