View from the Chapel Window

 

This weekend was the third iteration of the yearly Substrata Festival of which I attended the final night. The festival has always been held at the Chapel Performance Space in conjunction with Wayward Music and being on their mailing list I’ve been aware of it from it’s conception but this was my first time attending.  Every year there has been one or two acts I’d have been interested in seeing, but being a festival that would of course mean sitting through the rest, some of which were distinctly not to my taste.  These festivals are put on by the ambient musician Rafael Anton Irisarri and have proven to be popular enough that they sell out fairly quickly which considering the space is certain to lead to a hot crowded experience.  This years festival, which has been expanded to three days, was no exception except that the third day wasn’t sold out when last I got a mailing from Wayward Music and Kim Cascone was closing the festival. I haven’t really kept up with Cascone’s work, but back in the early days of my interest in various experimental forms he had a number of releases I was pretty into.  I also have been aware that his recent work is more along the lines of acoustic experiments utilizing beating patterns and acoustical phenomenon which is certainly something I find fascinating if not a primary interest of mine.  Since I could secure a ticket online and the other performers on this night, neither of whom I’d heard of, sounded at least interesting I went for it.

Of course the other thing worth mentioning is that this festival is basically ambient music and while I’m not adverse to the form, there really are few outstanding examples of it. The festival is driven by Irisarri’s tastes and has grown to include post-minimalsim as well as an eclectic mix of electronica and hybrid compositions. The materials provided by the festival read rather like an ‘artists statement’ (with all the connotations that implies):

Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality.

As the name substrata implies, it is about subtle aesthetics that go beneath the surface and into deeper aural territories.

Saturday July 20th was as nice an evening as can only be found in the Pacific NW. A beautiful sunny day with temps in the uppers 70s (F) by the time I arrived at the Chapel the sun was beginning to dip behind the Olympic Mountains.  There was a lot of people here and the wait for the doors to open in the lobby was a hot and sweaty, though happily short, experience. Once we were all inside the Chapel itself wasn’t completely packed and it wasn’t oppressive it at all, especially with the cooling air blowing in from all the open windows. I got a seat a few rows back by a pillar that created a gap that allowed for an easy escape if that proved necessary and was relatively centered. I would have liked to have sat by the windows as I think that would have added greatly to the experience but felt that for the Cascone piece I’d want to be inside the surround sound setup. They had very defined times for each act and apart from starting a bit late maintained that schedule fairly closely.

1) Christina Vantzou

Christina Vantzou is a an American multimedia artist/composer who is now based in Brussels. She introduced the string trio and harpist who would be playing the numerous mostly short (unidentified) pieces on this evenings program and then returnign to her laptop kicked things off with a loud, overbearing synth pad. The pieces were almost all constructed of her playing multitrack recordings on her MackBook while the string trio and harpist played along. The tracks she trigged mostly consisted of rather loud pads and washes plus the occasional sustained vocals worked into multitrack choirs. The musicians were pretty good and several of the pieces where they were more dominate I thought were the more engaging. Their playing was usually fairly long sustained, usually unaffected tones. Even the harpist bowed her instrument in the first piece though after that she played mostly rather staccato notes.  Vantzou also “conducted” these pieces, sort of “dancing” around doing rather Butch Morris-esque conducting.

Along with this there was also rather cliched video such as a slowed down candle flame and slow pans of a girl in a church and so on. This it appears was done by an unrelated “video artist” and accompanied most of the performance in the festival.

Kelly Wyse at the harpsichord

2) Michal Jacaszek

Michal Jacaszek  is a Polish “electro-acoustic composer” who for this show at least appeared to be laptop DJ-ing along with a harpsichord (Kelly Weyse) and clarinets (“Crystal” Beth Fleenor). Rather Saule like in his DJ-ing though with perhaps not quite as good of choices.  He used lots of acoustic instrument samples and was perhaps processing and sampling the two live instruments but it did seem that barring improvisation from the instrumentalists (which did not seem to be the case) he could have just played their contributions along with multitude of other elements he was utilizing.  Often fairly loud and dense each peice always had a point (or two) were everything dropped out to a bare minimum and then rebuilt in a different direction.  Overall fine with some nice moments, typically involving the harpsichord and bass clarinet interacting with the more worn way, fractured less beat-driven samples.

The video that was played along with Jacaszek included lots of slowed down water images and some forests shots but also some bad cg effects and cartoony figures with Afteraffects fliters applied to them.


3) Kim Cascone

In the booklet that accompanied the festical was a good four pages of bio and rumination from Kim Cascone. In it he goes through his history with meditation and developing “heightened awareness” especially w/r/t listening.  It even includes a series of exercises for you the listener to go through.  I have to say that while I’m sympathetic to his goals here I can’t help but wonder if it is perhaps not better to just let the listener find one’s own way there?  It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the performance, though this, along with his introduction of the piece as “aural meditation”, did add a ponderousness to it that I do not think is inherent to the sounds.  Cascone sat in the very middle of the surround sound speaker setup which also included a huge sub-woofer right in the middle of the room. Equipped with just a laptop and mixer he played for about 30 minutes in the dark with no video playing. We were instructed to sit with our eyes closed and focus on our breath which I did. He also told us that since this wasn’t really music there was no need to applaud at the end.  The sounds were all beating tones at first pretty intense and then of varying intensities as the sounds shifted.  Typically he’d pick a pattern, which all resolved itself in your head into hyper-rythmic oscillations, sometimes with higher pitched stuff seeming to swirl about at an upper level, other times just a single repeated sound. This he’d let play out for a decent amount of time, at least five minutes I’d say – this would be about six different sounds over the thirty minutes which seems about right. There was definitely those interesting physical sensations of vibrating in the ear that you get with these acoustic experiments.  I agree with his assessment that it’s not really music per se  – that is he was more or less just presenting one acoustical phenomenon after another – but it was fascinating and completely engaging. It just being thirty minutes was also a wise choice; too much might get tedious and this seemed just the right amount to keep one interested and engaged the whole time.  Good stuff and while not a very effective aid to meditation IMO (the highly rhythmic nature tends to force you into a pattern that is contrary to natural breathing, which rather undermines the “focus on breath” aspect)  it was a good focusing experience. It probably would have been aurally interesting to have been able to walk around during the performance but I certainly respected his setting of the events parameters.

 

 

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Music stands in front of Wendy Hough, Wall Drawing

 

The second day of the Wandelweiser + Bozzini concerts was once again at Open Space in Victoria B.C. My report on the first day of concerts can be read here: Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria, day 1 and my introduction to these concerts here: Wandelweiser in Victoria. Day 2 was another beautiful sunny day in Victoria which made for very pleasant concert environment with the  sounds of the harbor – including some seriously baritone ship horns – and the pleasantly warm sunlight.

The afternoon concert featured two composers that I was completely unfamiliar with Thomas Stiegler from Germany and Daniel Brandes from right here in Victoria B.C.. Daniel, whom I talked to briefly before this concert (and also on Twitter) I would describe as a second generation Wandelweiser composer; a student of Antonie Beuger he definitely seems to be in that lineage. Of course this being the only piece of his I’ve heard can’t expound on his body of work, but from what I heard here I think that to be the case. Thomas Stieger, though his bio is rather brief on the Wandelweiser site,  would seem to be an early member of the collective. He’s trained and works as a physician but his CV lists him winning a composition prize in 1997, not too long after the founding of Wandeweiser.  It was nice to have an introduction to two new composers especially in a live context which seems to be the best way to experience this music.

Wandelweiser + Bozzini at Open Space, Victoria B.C.

Quatuor Bozzini: Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini, Mira Benjamin
Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble: Jürg Frey, Thomas Stiegler, Antoine Beuger, Daniel Brandes

 

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Daniel Brandes's a tenuous "we"

 Daniel Brandes, Jürg Frey (obscured) Thomas Stiegler, Stéphanie Bozzini, Clemens Merkel, Isabelle Bozzini & Mira Benjamin

Concert #3 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

1) Daniel Brandes a tenuous “we” (2013)

performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet),  Antoine Beuger (flute), Thomas Stiegler (viola), Stefan Maier (guitar), Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (cello), Mira Benjamin (violin))

This piece was for the largest ensemble of the series and included the entire Bozzini Quartet along with Stiegler, Beuger and Frey and for his only performance of the weekend Stefan Maier playing electric guitar.  Maier played his guitar with eBow generating long, sustained low tones. Likewise for the other instruments, with long drawn out, barely affected tones. There was also a set of text fragments, which were included in the series program, that were read out by the performers. The vocal performances were akin to that of the Beuger piece from yesterday, all murmured and hummed and rather self-consciously performed. Considering that Brandes was a student of Beuger this seems a pretty direct influence here. It also makes me wonder how deliberate that vocal performance style is.  As I noted in my thoughts on the Beuger piece I’m not very taken by this type of vocal performances and this held for this piece.  Otherwise I found the long, shifting instrumental lines rather pleasant and I found the piece quite accommodating to the sounds of seagulls and several conversations from the mezzanine down below.  Especially at the times when the piece was purely instrumental – which as I assume the material of the piece was gone through at the performers desecration was arbitrary  – did it seem to almost provide a background “wash” for the compelling exterior sounds.

Here’s a selection of the text fragments used in the piece:

1. nobody else could hope, except for those who grieve
3. enter the silence again, in the midst of words
4. loss has made a tenuous “We” of us all
9. only a poem could bring the grief to notice. the poem, so urgent and so fragile

2) Thomas Stiegler

Gelbe Birne III (2008) (violin, clarinet, violoncello)
Treibgut 1/2 (2011) (violin, violoncello)
Gelbe Birne VI (2013) (string quartet, world premiere)
Und.Ging.Außen.Vorüber (I) – for 3 voices and 3 radios (2005) 

Performers: The first three pieces performed by Quatuor Bozzini and subsets
Und.Ging,Außen.Vorüber (I) – for 3 voices and 3 radios (2005) performed by Jürg Frey (voice),  Antoine Beuger (voice), Thomas Stiegler (voice)

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - ThomasStiegler The rest of the afternoon program was pieces by Thomas Stiegler. These were all very short except for the last two. I should note that the program lists these pieces in a different order (the string quartet first) but according to my recollection (and notes) the string quartet, which was the longest of all the pieces was final piece before the piece for 3 voices. My notes weren’t very good for this part of the concert, which I’ll replicate here:

• The first piece rather pointillistic and very short < 100 notes
• The second piece made me think of Lachenman with it’s scratchy extended techniques and rather staccato style. Again a short piece only a few minutes.
• Quartet long, vibrato-less drones that went on for a long time and unraveled at the end with rapid dry bowing and then an abrupt simultaneous end.
• Frey, Stiegler, Beuger – each reading fragments of words and such in German. Frey seemed to be almost just reading syllables and Beuger repeated single words and in the middle Stiegler  The speakers were then joined by the titular 3 radios toward the end, which were playing randomly tuned Victoria stations – mostly pop music. The speakers kept it up in the same fashion they had been reading, though a bit haggard at this point.

 
I have to admit I wasn’t taken by the short pieces, or by the text piece. I did enjoy the longer string quartet quite a bit. It was rather drone-y with a single note played by the players in an unaffected style. This continued for a long time varied only by subtly beating tones until the last minute or so where they shifted to these rapid shorter attacks and it had the feeling of coming apart at the seems and then suddenly ending. Really interesting piece and one the fit into the space really well.

 

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Bozzini String Quartet

Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini & Mira Benjamin

Concert #4 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

1) Antoine Beuger little more than a whisper (2010)

Performers: Jürg Frey (Clarinet) & Antoine Beuger (flute)

A primarily soft, gentle piece that structurally seemed rather call and response, that is they seemed to play in reaction to each other. In this it seemed like some Christian Wolff pieces I’m familiar with where the instructions are that your options are informed by what you are hearing from your partners in the performance. The sounds were mostly rather short tones with the occasional  scales and a  small amount of extended technique – tongue clicks and over-breathing and the like. There was one or two slightly loud bits, that is to say louder than the overall softness, that seemed to be in reaction to something the other had done. There’d be something from say Jürg and you’d see a slightly quizzical expression from Antoine which he’d respond with something that would slip into slightly louder territory. Really engaging and charming piece.

Antoine Beuger little more than a whisper

Antoine Beuger little more than a whisper score

After the concerts I took a peek at the score and it did seem to have the elements of interaction that I sensed there. I took a (bad) cameraphone picture of it which if you squint hard enough you might be able to make out some of. But the instructions are that the performers alternate sounds, they should be uniformly soft and the that alternated sounds should constitute a phrase. I like the instruction that between the phrases there should be “some silence to allowing the previous phrase to resonate in memory“.

2) Jürg Frey Streichquartett 3 (2010-12)

Performers: Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (cello), Mira Benjamin(violin))

The final piece of the concert series was a string quartet from Jürg Frey.  Now I should note that in my initial introduction to the Wandelweiser Ensemble one of the recordings I listened to was Frey’s String Quartet Disc on Edition Wandelweiser Records and I didn’t care for it at all. While I have gotten into the works of many other Wandelweiser composers (Pisaro and Beuger especially) I’d really not delved much further into Frey’s works. In this concert series it was his pieces that I enjoyed the most (along with the Pisaro) and was the most revelatory to me. So I was quite interested to hear this String Quartet – would it be how I recalled his earlier ones, or more in line with the piece of his I’d heard the day before? The piece was rather Feldman-like sharing his penchant for beginning and ending abruptly, utilizing lots of unison playing and was of course overall soft but not extremely so. I found this to be a nice piece and found it to be another highlight of the weekend. While not as long as a late Feldman piece – it was around 30 minutes perhaps – it did have several different sections to it. Along with the aforementioned unison play there was some solo violin from Clemens Merkel and some very dry rustling playing from the whole group. There were some sections that had a melancholy melodic feel, reminding me a bit of Mihaly Vig’s Werckmeister Harmonies score. I felt it was of a nice length, deliberately paced throughout with no real dramatic moments. I wouldn’t have complained if it had been a longer even.

And that was that. Another weekend of music done and as with all concert series it had pieces I enjoyed more than others.  But it is always welcome to get to hear new pieces from new composers especially in a live situation. Nothing I felt was horrible or hard to sit through or anything like that – some things were just more to my taste than others. With the nature of the entire series even for pieces that didn’t grab me it was was pleasant in context to the surroundings and environmental sounds. It was a lovely weekend in Victoria and it was great to be introduced to Open Space, which I am sure I will be attending concerts at again.

  

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Christoper Reiche, Daniel Brandes & Thomas Stiegler

 Christopher Reiche, Daniel Brandes & Thomas Stiegler

 

There was again a Q&A following the afternoon concert this time with Daniel Brandes and Thomas Stiegler again hosted by Christopher Reiche of Open Space. It was again mostly questions from the audience with a few from Reiche. I  had a harder time transcribing this one but I’ll again paste in what I was able to jot down again with a few corrections, clarifications and not much commentary.

Day 2 Q & A

? About the radio
Stiegler – Talked about the text, but I missed most of it. From artists with disabilities.

? about the durations
Stiegler – First couple pieces short and commissions, The quartet was written fast about a woman who died at 40. Put together with other short pieces.

Brandes – His piece not of fixed duration includes the instruction ‘duration: ends somehow’ he works with Beuger and he also had a piece with that direction. This Music is supposed to be immersive and a duration would impose he felt.

Clemens Merkel (Bozzini violinist) – mentioned they just recently replaced two short pieces with the long Stiegler quartet which begins with sustained Es.

? a subversive performer could refuse to let the peice end, would at not be in the spirit of the music?
Brandes – I find this peculiar notion of the subversive performer; would have to dislike me a lot to go to all the trouble. It’s about creating a sense of community of navigating this space together. Questions arise of how to begin, how to end how to play together. If players love the piece thy will find a way to end. (Long pause)

? why do you choose the specific material?
Stiegler – A piece without pitches (the long quartet IIRC) this was inspired by seeing a similar piece at a festival.

? community keeps coming up. How to foster that beyond the concert space
It’s music playing or listening teaches us something if you are sensitive to the situation, about gentleness, caring and such.

All my photos from the concerts can be found here: Wandelweiser + Bozzini photoset on Flickr

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Wendy Hough, Wall Drawing (fragment) w/ stand

 

Open Space is pretty much right in the thick of a prime tourist zone Victoria, British Columbia and is a rectangular, bright, acoustically sound space. Really perfect venue for this kind of music in that some sounds drifted in from outside, but it wasn’t all just traffic. A skylight above the performance area let in natural light and the occasional pop’s and groans as it expanded in the sun. Most striking was Wendy Hough‘s Wall Drawing, which stretched across the entire back wall forming a hypnotic backdrop. A semi-cicle of chairs in two long rows was setup for the afternoon concerts and a third row added dynamically as the evening shows filled up. A really good crowd I though and the Open Space music director told me that they averaged around 25 people for most of their new music events. Pretty impressive – when I saw fellow Wandelweiser  composer Micheal Pisaro in Seattle, at a venue that is basically the Seattle’s equivalent to Open Space there was only a handful of people in attendance.

The concert series was over two days with an afternoon concert, followed by a Q&A, then an evening concert. If you attended all four concerts, as I did, you were able to hear 12 pieces from 6 different composers. I’ve listened to various Wandelweiser composers for maybe 5-6 years now and just like everything certain things appeals to me more than others. There is also a lot of material from this collective which has been active for more than 15 years now and I’ve hardly heard it all. So for me when discussing composed pieces the historical context, both of the composers own compositional history as well as the lineage in which they are situated is really key. Since I feel that I can only provide limited insight in that vein here I am going to mostly try to sketch out the overall nature of the pieces. I should also add that I don’t feel that a blow-by-blow description of this kind of music is that useful. In the main without actually analyzing the piece I feel that is of limited utility and can actually be misleading. Likewise focusing too much on the environment I think can just be a laundry list and also push understanding of the piece to specifics that undermine the intention.  That is to say that these pieces in general are accepting of these sounds, but not reliant on the specifics that you heard.  This may seem like I’m leaving little to write about but really I’ll talk about all of these aspects, but just in passing without trying to claim any sort of notion of completeness.

Wandelweiser + Bozzini at Open Space, Victoria B.C.

Quatuor BozziniClemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini, Mira Benjamin
Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble: Jürg Frey, Thomas Stiegler, Antoine Beuger, Daniel Brandes

 

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Antoine Beuger & JürgFrey
Antoine Beuger & Jürg Frey

 

Concert #1 Saturday, June 8, 2013, 2:30 p.m.

1) Jürg Frey Canones incerti (2010)

performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet) & Antoine Beuger (flute)

The piece was all held tones with occasional ascending and descending runs. There was beating tones at times between the flute and clarinet that reminded me a bit of The International Nothing. But with the different tonality of the flute and clarinet as opposed to two clarinets this was richer and more engaging in my opinion.  The piece was really nicely paced; not overly spacious but not hurried or at all busy. Overall it was very pretty and it’s softness welcomed the sound of seagulls, the occasional passing pedestrian and motor vehicle. A telephone rang twice in the Open Space office and at the end in the concert venue itself. I’m pretty sure these were unintentional (they occurred the next day) but I thought fitted in nicely with what could be thought of as an overly pretty piece. While that obviously wouldn’t happen at every performance, the equivalent certainly could.  This was maybe my favorite piece of the series.

2) Antoine Beuger méditations poétiques sur “quelque chose dàutre” (2012)

performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet), Antoine Beuger (flute), Thomas Stiegler (viola), Clemens Merkel (violin) & Mira Benhamin (violin)

The piece began with Beuger introducing the piece as being based on text fragments from five philosophers. He then read text fragments that the piece utilizes. One immediately makes note that the quintet includes a muscian as representative for each philosopher. Following the reading each performer then clearly worked though a set of material at their own discretion and with each ending at different times. They mumbled and chant/sang bits of the text which were all in French. This seemed very self conscious to me but I should note is not really generally too my taste. It is certainly in the lineage of all of John Cage’s text pieces which frankly I’m pretty mixed on, but can get into a times. So I don’t write off this entire area but I feel that you have to be completely committed: no one would deny that Cage threw himself wholeheartedly into his text performances.  Apart from the text readings the played pitches were nice, mixing a variety of traditional tonal playing along with faint, dusty scraping of strings at times. Each performer stopped after they worked through their material and the performance concluded with just Frey on the clarinet.

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Quartet Stands

Concert #2 Saturday, June 8, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

1) Michael Pisaroasleep, river, bells, chords (2009)

performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet),  Antoine Beuger (flute), Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola) + Field Recordings

The field recordings seemed to be of a bus stop with cars, birds, various voices and the busses pulling in (un)loading and pulling out. The recording was rather loud and included within it various synthetic tones and sine waves. The strings mostly played very quiet long dry strokes. The flute and clarinet petty much blended right in with the field recording but also was long held soft ntes. the peice is interacting tones and incidental sounds. I really enjoyed this piece, especially the balance between the field recording, additional natural sounds from outside the venue, the pre-recorded sounds seamlessly blending in and then the nearly inaudible classical instrumentation. This is clearly in the same family as asleep, street, pipes, tones the recording of which was put out on the Gravity Wave label.  In the linked blog post he describes how he put together the recording used for that piece from snippets of pipe organ, vocal pieces, sine waves and field recordings. While we don’t have the specifics for this piece it clearly is in the same style but in my opinion the live performance aspect works better. I especially appreciated the bowed strings here but I also think that the higher tones of the clarinet and flute also worked really well. This piece was right up there among my favorites from this series and was happy this was part of the repertoire as Pisaro was the only Wandelweiser composer not present from whom a work was performed.

2) Martin ArnoldWaltz Organum (2012)

performers: Jürg Frey (clarinet), Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola), Isabelle Bozzini (cello), Mira Benjamin(violin))

This was a more standard new music peice for string quartet and clarinet from a Canadian composer not associated with the Wandelweiser collective. The art supporting agencies always require works from Canadians to get grants and this piece I presume was at least present for that reason. That being said it was okay if nothing very remarkable. It was mostly muted strings, playing mostly long tones rather dry, without vibrato. It was all very upper register in the strings and the clarinet also was rather high and quiet. The cello often played percussively by bouncing the bow on the strings. The piece was constructed from several rather disparate, movements giving it a rather episodic feel. They reorganized the performers and their setup for the different combinations: one movement was violin and cello only and IIRC at least one was the quintet and then various trios.

Wandelweiser + Bozzini in Victoria - Antoine Beuger, Jürg Frey & Christoper Reiche

Antoine Beuger, Jürg Frey & Christopher Reiche

There was a Q&A with Jürg Frey and Antoine Beuger following the afternoon concert hosted Christopher Reiche of Open Space. It was mostly questions from the audience with a few from Reiche. I sort of transcribed this the best I could so I thought I’d just paste that here at the end of this post with a few corrections, clarifications but not much commentary.

Day 1 Q & A

? how did you all meet?
(This was how Bozzini met the Wandelweiser group and I didn’t record the answer)

? Political importance; music displays passivity yet is confident.
Frey – my music doesn’t work when it’s loud, doesn’t make sense. When I want it to be loud I composer explicitly for trumpets and trombones because they are naturally loud. When it’s quiet the sound is primary, the musician doesn’t have to push it. When I want a loud piece I use brass or a whole orchestra. It’s not pushing it to be loud; it just is loud.

Beuger – (specifically, addressing the political part of the question) Music always has an inherent political meaning, about how we deal with each other. In a piece of music you are dealing with each other in a specific way. I hope musical situations can include a promise, about how the world could be, if we would deal with each with a lot of care and attention as per the peice they played.

Frey – why should I shout through the notes when I can speak? I try to deal with them in similar way as I’d try to deal with my friends. Try to find out what the notes want to do. If they are in balance (with himself) no need to shout.

? Do you compose in real time?

Frey- These two pieces have no fixed duration. You have to have security with the situation. It can take a long time.

? w/r/t performer choice. Christopher Reiche relayed a bit of advice a teach had given him: Imagine the worst possible interpretation of a piece and if you are okay with that than your notation is okay.

Beuger – This is a bad piece of advice. As composers we have to understained that we are not making the music it is the musicians who do. At its best it is a collaboration. My job is to have a relation of trust with those who play my music. I try to create a situation in which the musicians can feel comfortable. It is an ethical problem. If the players can feel at ease and be attentive to what they are doing and pay attention to each other then I’ve done my job, that is the quality in the composition. There has been more and more mistrust of the last 200 years between musician and composer. That is not what notation is or should be about.

Frey – What is the worst? What is possible for a piece? (he then relayed a story about Andrew Lee playing his piano pieces which he didn’t like at first. The realized at Lee played it as it was written and didn’t insert himself into it, which Frey assumes and generally prefers).

? what constitutes a good or accurate performance? What has to be there?

Beuger – no such thing as an accurate performance with my scores. I just sit and listen and the music either pleases me or not. It’s hard to say if ere is a good or bad performance. That is what we are writing music for, for the performance.

? So you think of yourself as more of a catalyst?

Beuger – Music is a practice, part of a culture a way of doing things. Celebrating life. Think of it like going to a Blues Pub – you go for being in that experience. What we are doing is similar.

All my photos from the concerts can be found here: Wandelweiser + Bozzini photoset on Flickr

May Micro-Tour day 3 - sand static

So I am heading up north to Victoria B.C. in Canada to catch a two day concert series of Wandelweiser compositions. The Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble (Jürg Frey, Thomas Stiegler, Antoine Beuger, Daniel Brandes) will be performing several pieces as will be Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini, Mira Benjamin).  Should be a good time and I always love visiting Victoria. If any readers of the blog are going to likewise be in attendance (and I certainly encourage any in the region to make the attempt) do say “hi”. I’ll put in the full details on the concert, venue and the like from the event webpage below.

 

Concert Series Info

Event: Wandelweiser + Bozzini
Artists: Quatuor Bozzini (Clemens Merkel, Stéphanie Bozzini, Isabelle Bozzini, Mira Benjamin), Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble (Jürg Frey, Thomas Stiegler, Antoine Beuger, Daniel Brandes)

Place: Open Space, 510 Fort Street, 2nd Floor

Concert Programs

Concert #1 Saturday, June 8, 2013, 2:30 p.m.
Jürg Frey – Canones incerti (2010)
Antoine Beuger – méditations poétiques sur “quelque chose dàutre” (2012)

Concert #2 Saturday, June 8, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Michael Pisaro – asleep, river, bells, chords (2009)
Martin Arnold – Waltz Organum (2012)

Concert #3 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 2:30 p.m.
Daniel Brandes – a tenuous “we” (2013)
Thomas Stiegler – Und.Ging,Außen.Vorüber (IV)- for string quartet (2007)
Thomas Stiegler – Gelbe Birne III (2008)
Thomas Stiegler – Treibgut 1/2 (2011)
Thomas Stiegler – Gelbe Birne I (2007)
Thomas Stiegler – Und.Ging,Außen.Vorüber (I)- for 3 voices and 3 radios (2005)

Concert #4 Sunday, June 9, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Antoine Beuger – little more than a whisper (2010)
Jürg Frey – Streichquartett 3 (2010-12)

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