8 years ago

Volume 9 Issue 3 - November 2003

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  • November
  • Toronto
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NEW Music Qu1cKP1cKs, coNTINuw Sunday November 09 NNN 7:30: Elmer lseler Singers/ Soundstreams Canada/CBC Radio Two. NNN 8:00: Music Gallery/CBC Two New Hours. Stacie Dunlop. Tuesday November l 1 NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten/RTH. NI 8:00: Music Gallery. Aros. · Wednesday November 12 NNN 8:00: Talisker Players. Spirit Dreaming. Friday November 14 NI 7:30: York U Dept of Music. lmprovSoiree NNN 8:00: Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble. Saturday November 15 NN 6:30: Ve5nivka Choir/Toronto Ukrainian Male Chamber Choir. Memorial Concert NN 7:30: Amadeus Choir. Gloria! NNN 8:00: U ofT. F of M. Student Composers rt. Sunday November 16 NN 7:00: Les AMIS Concerts. Monday November 17 NNN 7:00: U of T Faculty of Music. Nexus Friday November 21 NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten.Noyesfludde Saturday' November 22 NNN 8:00: Music Gallery. Glass Orchestra. NN 8:00: Sinfonia Toronto. Khachaturian Monday November 24 NN 903 24 8:00: U ofT. F of Music. Britten Tuesday November 25 NNN 12:30: York U Dept of M. Composer forum NNN 8:00: Goethe-lnstitut Toronto. Adorno. Wednesday November 26 NNN 12:30: Music Gallery Institute. Free lunch NNN 12:30: York U Deiit of Music. Caelo Tactus • Saturday November 29 NNN 8:00: Arraymusic. Kasemets' Symphosium NNN 8:00: Jubilate Singers. Winter Solstice. NN 8:00: Mississauga Symphony. Guy Few. Sunday November 30 NNN 3:00: Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects. Showcase & Presentation of Awards. NNN 3:00: Music Gallery. Arising Phoenix: Amanta Scott & David Tom5nson. NNN 3:30: New Music Concerts. Schafer­ Cycle of String Guartets Part One • • NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten. The Prodigal Son. NNN 8:00: New Music Concerts. Schafer­ Cycle of String Ouartets Part Two. Thursday December 04 NNN 12:10: U ofT .FofM. Contemporary Opera NNJl:OO: Dancemakers. TziganesCrackedDpen: NNN 8:00: Music Gallery. YuriZaidenberg. Saturday December 06 NN 8:00: RC M. ARC Festival: Music Reborn. NNN 3:00: Music Gallery. Trio Phoenix. NN 8:00: Ramona Carmelly and Friends. FURTHER AFIELD Thursday November 06 NN 7:30: Ontario Band Association. Friday November 07 NN 7:30: Waves of Sound. Sunday November 09 NN 3:00: McMaSter University Chamber Orchestra. 20th Century Gems. NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten Wednesday November 12 , NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten. War Requiem. Saturday November 15 NN 8:00: Renaissance Singers. Britten. · Sunday November 16 NN 3:00: Renaissance Singers. Britten Tuesday November 25 NN 8:00: Benjamin Brittert Chamber Ensemble. Wednesday November 26 NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten. Chamber Ensemble. Thursday November 27 NN 8:00: Benjamin Britten: A Celebration. 24 CorvlPOSER TO CoMPOSER HELMUT LACHENMANN INTERVIEWED·BY PAUL STEENHUISEN Composer Helmut Lachenmann (1935) was born into qfamily of Evangelical ministers in Stuttgart, Germany. Following conservatory studies and time at Darmstadt, he worked with Luigi Nono in Venice. Since then, he has consistently written some·of the most interesting, challenging, and perplexing music imaginable. On November 3, Toronto 's New Music Concerts · will present a portrait concert of his work. Their upcoming.concert, on which both Lachenmann and his wife (pianist Yukiko Sugawara) will pelform, provided me the special opportunity to talk with this fascinating artist. SIBENHUISEN: You've g9ne to great effort to find new types of sounds in your music. lWzat was your intention? LACHENMANN: It's true that I'm trying to search for new sounds, but this is not my aesthetic aim or credo as an artist. With conventional ot unconventional sounds, the question is haw to create a new, authentic musical situation. The problem isn' search for new sounds, but for a new way of listening, of perception. I don't know if there are still new sounds, but what we need is new contexts. One attempt was dodecaphonic music, which was an incredibly courageous step by Schoenberg, trying to" separate conventional from formality. It wasn't perfectly received in society, because occidental society kept WWW, THEWHOLENOTE. COM ]Jeing administrated by the tonal conventions, until today. In our everyday life, we are surrounded by an art and entertainment service which is dominated by the tonal music tradition. I was raised with the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, and of serialism, for those of us in Europe, as well as with the aleatory techniques of John Cage, which seemed to be a sort of redemption of our serialistic attempt. I felt that I needed · to find my own concept of " music. When I searched for • it in the late sixties, I called it musique concrete instrumentale. The original musique concrete, as developed by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, uses life's everyday noises or sounds, recorded and put together by collage. I tried to_ apply this way of thinking, not with the sounds of daily life, but with our instrumental potentialities. Thinking that way, the conventional beautiful philharmonic sound is the special result of a type of sound production, not of consonance or dissonance within a tonal system. In that context, I had to search for other sound sources,. to bring out this new aspect of musical signification. STEENHUISEN: At the same time, you don't make electronic music. You don't make musique concrete. LACHENMANN: I am working with the energetic aspect of sounds. The pizzicato note C is not only a consonant event in C major or a dissonant event in C flat major. It might be a string with a certain tension being lifted and struck against the fingerboard. I hear this as. an energetic process. This way of perception is normal in everyday life. If I hear two cars crashing - each against the other - I hear maybe some rhythms or some frequencies, but I don't say "Oh, what interesting sounds!" I say, "What happened?" The aspect of observing an acoustic event from the perspective of "What happened?" - this is what l call musique concrete instrumentale. 35 years ago, electronic music was for me uninteresting because what you hear is voltage all through the same membrane of a loudspeaker. A loudspeaker is a totally sterile instruinent. Even the most exciting sounds are no longer exciting when projected through a loudspeaker. There's no danger in it·anymore. When I was 30 years old I worked in the electronic music sttidio in Ghent, and today all iny students have to work in the studio because it helps to ~pen their minds to all dimensions of sound and time. But what I'm · talking about is the experience of sound in the here and now. STEENHUISEN: You've said that with electronic music, the sound is imprisoned in the speakers. Don't you think that the sound of the violin is trapped within its tradition? LACHENMANN: Yes. That's true, but this is a wonderful prison which invites us to separate its walls. If I bring together the pizzicato violin string with a plucked string on a piano and a harp, at that moment, it's no longer just a traditional violin - it's part of another family of sound. I have the ambivalence of a sound, which may be familiar to me, but I hear it in a new way. With electronics, there is no ambivalence. There is no history there. I went to IR­ CAM several times, listening to and seeing all the great inventions of electronic music, but I left it, saying to myself it's not for me. The problem of new sounds is a dialectical problem. Everything that's alive is new. AC major chord in Palestrina's music isn't the same as a C major chord in .Wagner's Der Meistersinger. Every tremolo, or interval, or tam-tam noise is as intensive and new as the conti;:xt you stimulate for it. To liberate it, for a moment at least, from the historic implications loaded into it, this is the real challenge. l (s about breaking the old context, ·by whatever means, to break the sounds, looking into their anatomy. Doing that is iln .incredible experience, full of this ambivalence I mentioned. You can still see that you knew that sound before, but now it has changed. The creative spirit did something with it This is the only reason for me to make music - to hear, in a new way, what you . knew before. To remember the human mind, and what we could call spirit, or creative intensity. . It's the transcendental and humanistic aspect. All that other stuff - to participate in the service of culture, to write another symphony or another avant-garde work, or to NOVEMBER 1 - · DECEMBER 7 2003

organize one more minimal music piece, to exploit the great supermarket of fascism and add another nice piece to it - such music would be replacable. STEENHUISEN: So it's a rejection of habit? LACHENMANN: You could say it like that. Refusing, maybe. Balls breaking it, and opening it It's not a destructive process, but rather a dec9nstructive process. When we come to Toronto,. my wife will play a 30-minute piano piece of mine. At the premiere, people expected I would use the piano strings, or "prepare" the pi­ ~o. but I didn't. I worked directly with intervals, and resoriance. STEENHUISEN: Is this Ein Kinderspiel? LACHENMANN:~ Ein Kinderspiel is another, older piano piece, and I'll play that one myself when I'm there. It uses a lot of pre-established patterns. But it's not really about the pitches. The music . is not the pitches. STEENHUISEN: lW1Gt is. it then? LACHENMANN: Exactly! This is the best thing you could say. Maurice Ravel said "Maybe Bolero is my best piece, but unfortunately it doesn't contain any music." You see, this is the wonderful question - "What is it then?" If someone says to me that what I do isn't music, I say "Wonderful". . Finally, we have not music. The whole world is full of soc called music. You can't find any place where you can be away from it. A train station, an airport, everywhere. Finally, you make a situation in which you have to reflect again, to ask again, "What is music?" With Ein Kinderspiel, you hear the chromatic notes from top· to bottom, but you hear the piano in a different way. It's a different instrument now, you hear each key anew. Each of the seven pieces uses a different pattern, and the patterns are totally unmusical - banal or primitive to such a degree that you're able to hear what actually happens in the background of that sound. And then you hear resonance in a different way. The last piece gives, through resonance, hallucinations or imagined melodies that the pianist can't even control, because it comes through the resonances, which give you many other lower frequencies. If it's not music, I'd say it's a situa- NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2003 tion of perception, which provokes you to wonder "What is music?" For me, this is the deepest experience. When people first heard Schoenberg's Kammersymphonie, they said it wasn't music, and they were right, because they saw that it was a completely different way of moving on, with,the old means. When Johann Sebastian Bach wrote ha!Jllonizations of the good old Lutheran chorales, people said he should be fired from his post ~at the church, because he destroyed their beautiful music, which they habitually used to pray to God. They were angry, yet today we are fascinated by the intensity of these pieces. These composers changed the idea of music, and this is our occidental musical tradition - that music is changed by the authentic creative invention of composers. Look what Beethoven did with the same sounds used in the more aristocratic music of Mozart or Haydn. He used it in another way, maybe because it was a time of revolution, maybe because he was . a little bit crazy. The whole change of styles and means in. European music, from the first monodic music until today, follows the idea bf destroying the conventional idea of music. STEENHUISEN: Do you find that peif orming your music in a different geographical context changes the perception of your work?. LACHENMANN: I think so, yes. It's clear. I had some experience with this in Japan. I am totally a European musician. (laughs) I can't help it. And why should I, it's okay. But in looking for other ways of thinking about time, for instance, or of sound, my music resonated in a certain sense with the traditional Japanese music. Many Japanese people felt a connection with their own music that has large timespans, and some raw elements, like in Noh theatre, or Gagaku. had my opera per.formed there ·3 years ago, in Tokyo. And it was incredible, even for me. It was like a different piece, because of the situation. It wasn't the same as in my home. They are open to iong time dimensions, which the Europeans, like many, may have problems with. They can breathe with that. The idea of something being totally simple is in Zen a very deep idea. I always ask my students to make the sounds empty. Every sound is full of expres-

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