READER: RESONANCES II
Anda Kryeziu: TILDE [~] (2023, UA)
Concert Installation with Ensemble Modern
A project of Ensemble Modern and the International Music Institute Darmstadt (IMD)
Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
With the friendly support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the Ensemble Modern Patronatsgesellschaft e. V.
Hugo Queirós (Contrabass clarinet)
Olivia Palmer-Baker (Contraforte)
David Haller (Percussion)
Rainer Römer (Percussion)
Steffen Ahrens (Electric Guitar)
Alexey Potapov (Electric Guitar)
Jagdish Mistry (Electric Violin)
Paul Cannon (Electric Double Bass)
Lukas Nowok (Sound Direction)
INTERVIEW WITH ANDA KRYEZIU ON “TILDE [~]”
You were particularly interested in this “Reisebericht” (travel report) from Ensemble Modern’s trips to the GDR and the Sovjet Union in the 1980ies. What caught your interest?
I was trying to see what I can get from the history, from the zeitgeist of this time through the Ensemble Modern archives – trying to see what they tell about the time, the era, about what was happening in society. I was looking at crucial or “problematic” historical years, points of no return in a political and historical sense, so I was digging around 1989/90. Here, the archives clearly showed some kind of historical narrative about the change which society was going through. This “Reisebericht” from the GDR trip points to some of the sidelines that you get for granted nowadays – depending where you live and where you come from, of course, such as freedom of movement and traveling. The archives tell a lot about political difficulties and how they play a role in all kinds of activities, also in the cultural realm.
Could you trace back these societal and political developments also in the music?
No, sadly not. Maybe i expect too much from music or from composers. But also of course my lense was really narrow. The archives themselves are a narrow scope because they are just documents that were selected and chosen to be kept or to survive by a person. But there were also some things that I found were really interesting, that I was not prepared to see. And I chose to leave out other archival sections, because I was just not prepared to deal with it.
You were interested in one particular passage from the GDR travel, where there was a conflict about the meaning of the term “Deutsch”.
Yes, in 1987 Ensemble Modern went as a guest to the GDR side of Berlin to play there. They had printed their own programme note, as it was agreed apparently with the organizer from the GDR. In the end they were not allowed to use these booklets because they used phrases such as “German ensemble” or “leading German composer”. Even Lachenmann’s “Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied” was problematized. Things that one consideres for granted nowadays were a big problem, mirrored from a program note – the artifact that nowadays transports us to this story and narrative.
This is interesting, because our talk will also end up in being a program note – from the year 2023.
Yes. But nowadays we live in this superfluous age of digital material and archiving. I have the feeling, the older archives were more focused, more concentrated, more taken care of. One could see that there was a lot of energy put in every piece and in every photo. I’m talking about this data stream in the video of my piece. In the digital age we are all archivists. There are zettabytes of data that just flow every day, out of us, about us.
Did you also add something, maybe even personal to this archive of Ensemble Modern?
There are some pieces of mine in this piece, but not as archives, more as commentaries about myself. There is even a metalevel on the piece, where I am archiving my own process of composition about archives. And I am writing the text in the video, which was kind of my stream of consciousness throughout the compositional process. While working with the archives I got to these thoughts and tried to navigate close and away from my own memories through the process. I also touched some important moments or difficult moments in my life, but I’m not completely archiving or narrating them. I’m just commenting about the provocation of those memories.
What about the title, the “Tilde”?
For me it’s kind of the core of the piece. It relates to the question: Why do we keep archives? The “Tilde” is a symbol for me, because it looks like a sinewave. What do we do all day? We do music. It’s just air, filtered by our ears, recorded in our brain, labeled and archived as a memory. We keep archives because we try to hold on to the moment. I’m playing the bass in the subwoofer, a sine tone of 7 Hertz, which creates some patterns in water and I was trying to keep this in my memory. The Tilde is also the symbol of electrostatic current. It’s 0.07 volts of electrostatic current between the neurons when they shoot to each other. That’s the synapse where memories get created.
Questions: Friedemann Dupelius
ARCHITECTS IN THE PALACE OF MEMORY
by Leonie Reineke
Archives are palaces of memory, built over long periods of time. They relieve the storage capacities of our heads and enrich our shared knowledge. They shape historiography, allowing images and narratives to take form. They are also instruments to decide what should remain in human memory. An exploration of the many rooms, passages, chambers and niches in such a palace – whether as focused research or mere browsing – can yield fascinating insights. Sometimes they uncover items long forgotten, undiscovered for decades. Sometimes subtle connections between historical events emerge, or unusual, perhaps fallacious interpretations of historical materials. Thus, the palace of memory quickly becomes a creative office for novelty. And suddenly the archive is no longer just about what is decidedly past, but also about the present and future – especially when one’s approach is not motivated by science, but has a clear artistic bent.
Chance finds, unsystematic searching, collecting by association, getting lost on a hundred side tracks – such roundabout methods are welcome when the point is to illustrate the autonomous nature of aesthetic practice. That is exactly the path chosen by the composers of the project “Funkensprünge” (literally, $ights of sparks) – an initiative associated with the surveying and digitization of Ensemble Modern’s archive. Treasures from 40 years of the Ensemble’s history have become sources of inspiration for new works by these artists. Anahita Abbasi, Anda Kryeziu, Wukir Suryadi and Yiran Zhao have created four works for the stage: compositions which will have their world premieres during the 2023 Darmstadt Summer Course. Furthermore, Stefan Pohlit and Daniel Hensel created radio pieces commissioned by the station hr2-kultur. Neither was a direction for their research specified nor a special performance format, neither a manner of composing nor an ensemble size. Accordingly, the six resulting works are totally different, even though they all started with the same horizon of possibilities. Where musical creators usually make decisions about pitches, dynamics, tempi and playing techniques, here the first question was which archival materials they would use as their source of ideas and compositional material. Whether photographs, scores, programme books, audio cassettes, travel protocols, correspondence with luminaries of music history or other hand-written notes – the composers had access to the entire holdings of materials, on the basis of which they could develop new pieces together with members of Ensemble Modern.
Personal, partially autobiographical aspects are also interwoven with materials from the Ensemble Modern archive in the new ensemble piece by Anda Kryeziu. Before studying music in Switzerland and Germany, the composer, who grew up in Kosovo during the 1990s, experienced war, escape and migration – a very different historical perspective than that of Ensemble Modern at the time. “My personal history,” explains Kryeziu, “gives me a very speciific view of the past. That is also what interests me about archives. They are instruments for constructing entire narratives, or deconstructing, forgetting or even suppressing them – depending on who controls the archives. Therefore, it was a special experience for me to approach Ensemble Modern’s archive from my personal perspective. After all, the Ensemble’s activities throughout these four decades have taken place in parallel with great political upheaval.” During her research in the archive, Kryeziu concentrated especially on a tour of what was then the Soviet Union in February 1990 and concerts in the GDR during the late 1980s. The travel reports from this era give a detailed view of the political situation at the time. Combined with personal memories of the Ensemble musicians, these materials have shaped Kryeziu’s piece – a performance installation including sonic and spatial aspects.