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Nature Theater of Darmstadt
Open-air laboratory

With selection process
New deadline for submissions of applications: 8 June 2018

Tutors: Cathy Milliken, Lucia Ronchetti (Composition), Françoise Rivalland, Christian Dierstein (Percussion)

Participants: Composers, percussionists (participants of the Darmstadt Summer Course)
Maximum number of participants: 8 – 10 composers

Working phase: 15 to 26 July 2018

Topic: Collaborative development of open-air works for ensemble of percussionists (from 4 to 24 performers)


The aim of the workshop is to promote creative collaboration between composers and percussionists and to research the percussive potential of the city and its urban green spaces.

In form of an open-air laboratory, composers and percussionists will work together exploring different locations in Darmstadt, making sounds using buildings and structures as well as natural features of the city such as trees, stones, building sites, mechanisms, fountains, etc. These can all become inedited instruments, performed by professional percussionists, with the view to creating open-air concrete music.

The composer, or composers collective whilst conceiving his/her/their work, should stress the specific positioning of the performers in the selected space, the unique sounds produced by materials of various origins, the development of the choreography required for the performance. In addition they should also deal with the function or history of the selected location and with the natural set each space can offer.

The projects can involve a vast range of references, from open-air traditional rituals to contemporary street theater. It is open to the percussionists to participate as instrumentalists, performers, vocalists as well as whether their role is characterized or not within the range of their performative experience.

The projects can also refer to the post-Cage production of alea or semi-aleatoric works and can involve improvised sections. Nevertheless, projects of detailed written music, conceived as open-air work of “absolute” music, will also be taken into consideration.

The title „Nature Theater of Darmstadt“ refers to the scene from Kafka’s „Amerika“ (Nature Theater of Oklahoma) recalling the surreal freedom and potentiality of the enterprise and the open-air trumpets performance as announcement.


We are searching for proposals involving 4-24 percussionists. Suggestions for sonic or compositional ideas, particular set-ups etc. may, in theory, employ any sound producing object of the composer’s choice as long as it is possible to realize within the practical framework of the percussion studio. We encourage composers to opt for small-scale set-ups, and possibly, if employing unconventional instrumentations, bring their own instruments or electronic devices to the workshops. Proposals may be submitted with or without any form of musical notation. The participating composers will have to construct the performance space together with the performers during the process. A theatrical aspect should be included.

Duration: 1–8 minutes

The projects can involve a single or a group of composers working collectively.

The tutors will search afterwards for good spaces for the performance.

Before the beginning of the Darmstadt Summer Course, the selected composers may present advanced sketches and ideas for completion during the workshop.

The tutors will work together with the selected composers and percussionists in order to finalize and perform their pieces. The rehearsals will be held within 10 days of collaborative work between composers and percussionists.

The chosen pieces will be performed in a concert on 26 July 2018 in Darmstadt.

The new deadline for applications is 8 June 2018.

If you have questions, please e-mail

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