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MaerzMusik – Festival of Contemporary Music

18 to 27 March 2011





In 2011 MaerzMusik caters for the eyes and the ears by focusing on the interrelation between sounds and images in movement.

Even before the development of new, particularly digital technologies, diverse approaches were attempting to converge and integrally control music, images, movement and light. The dissolution of borders between artistic disciplines and the intermedia advancement of acoustic and visual dimensions was a fundamental concern of the avantgardists of the 20th century, rooted in the visionary notion of the “Gesamtkunstwerk” by Richard Wagner or the synesthetic fantasies of Alexander Skriabin and successors. At the beginning of the 21st century, sophisticated tools for audio-visual processing are ubiquitous and easily accessible. The almost unlimited expansion of creative options gives rise to fascinating potential but also a danger of somewhat arbitrary, formulaic, merely gimmicky audio-visual design.

MaerzMusik 2011 addresses this controversial discourse. The festival presents outstanding, but also challenging new projects – with new music to old films, musical video art and experimental intermedia performance installations.

The festival opens with a venue-specific version of Rebecca Saunders’ Chroma in the Sputnik aesthetic of MOSKAU. Not only do the musicians continually change their performance position, but the audience is also free to move around and individually experience the work. In MOSKAU’s nightclub Michael Vorfeld pays homage to the light bulb with a musical, luminous monument.

New music to old films: four classics of the silent film era are cast in a fresh light by new compositions. Ensemble Modern accompanies Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with music by Martin Matalon that the Argentine composer adapted to the celebrated 2010 restored version. Misato Mochizuki supplements the tragic protofeminist drama Taki no shirato by Kenji Mizoguchi with subtle, sparse but complex music. The musicians accompanying guitarist Gary Lucas vibrantly play music by Reza Namavar and Lucas to the monumental epic film J’accuse by Abel Gance about love in the time of the First World War. Finally, visitors can experience One-Sixth of the World by the Russian film revolutionary Dziga Vertov with music by Michael Nyman.

Various productions span the fields of staged concert, concert installation and intermedia music performance. Ensemble ascolta performs a world premiere by the Taiwanese composer Pei-Yu Shi, works by the Irish composer Jennifer Walshe and by Elena Mendoza, who was recently awarded the Spanish National Music Prize. Monodramas by Perttu Haapanen and Lotta Wennäkoski hails from Finland, the music to the swirling stage sculpture Sandglasses comes from the Lithuanian composer Justė Janulytė. Rotation also plays a role in Tables Are Turned by Bernhard Lang with the ensemble Alter Ego from Rome and the British turntablist Philip Jeck. A “zoo” of over 200 instruments will be revealed in Tiere sitzen nicht by Enno Poppe and Wolfgang Heiniger – instruments that are now easily able to realize the futuristic vision that was behind the invention of Intonarumori over a 100 years ago. Luciano Chessa reconstructed 16 of these noise generators and has commissioned many new compositions, by Blixa Bargeld and Mike Patton, to name a few. Lillevan, master of live video mixing, presents with Michael Wertmüller, Steamboat Switzerland and courage from Dresden the performance Licht – Zeiten in the immense TRAFO Kraftwerk Mitte, where audiovisual performances by alva noto aka Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda will also take place as part of the Sonic Arts Lounge series. Shintaro Imai and Yutaka Makino present new venue-specific performance installations in Berghain. The composer Christoph Gallio and the photo video artist Beat Streuli build bridges between musical processes and image projections.

The abundance of intermedia and interdisciplinary performances will be complemented by chamber music recitals. Giving their Berlin debut will be the American-Japanese composer Ken Ueno, the young Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat and the 20-strong ensemble Alarm Will Sound from New York. The Diotima Quartet from Paris will once again perform at MaerzMusik, as will Trio Accanto with their homage to the 75th birthday of Helmut Lachenmann. The midnight series “Listening to Films” in Babylon Mitte focuses on the soundtracks of classic and celebrated films, whose impact is in essence due to the music. The subsequent associated “Music – Film – Marathon” by Take Off Productions perfectly complements the motto of MaerzMusik 2011.

10 years of MaerzMusik – you are cordially invited to experience adventures, pleasures and challenges for the eyes and ears.

Matthias Osterwold

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