Field Reports

Vladimir Guicheff Bogacz

There are three main types of experience I can distinguish during these past phases of the Composer Collider Europe Project. Deeper human relations, an approach to a different society and increase of musical knowledge.

Spending more time with the other students of the project, was a great opportunity to get to know fascinating people which I would have hardly met in another situation. This also happened with the musicians of the ensemble and I think that the fact of being out of our city (Cologne), was also very important for this to happen. Although this might be seen as not absolutely necessary for the music, it is also true that making music is a social action, and therefore the deep understanding of the colleagues with whom you work, makes also the music sound better.

Living for some days in another city, it’s also a great opportunity to experience how other people live and work and also to reflect about one’s own conditions. In Thessaloniki, I even learned some Greek and through the Spielbar project I could contact some local musicians, jam with them, and invite them to our concert.

Then the development of my musical knowledge during this period is very important. I had the opportunity to test every single material separately and let the ideas grow side by side with the musicians, so each sound was not only in accordance with my aesthetic ideal, but also suitable for each musician.

I tried to take advantage of being able to write music in these conditions with such good musicians and then look for musical processes that lead some aspects of music to their boundaries.

It was no coincidence that Melvyn Poore and Peter Veale both referred to the piece at the same time as a kind of tuba / oboe concerto. Also, it was very challenging to write a percussion part only with a woodblock, an idea which was also very suitable for Dirk Rothbrust.

We also had a very interesting (and also for me moving) idea exchange on the issue of having or not having a conductor. For me the fact that musicians defended one or the other idea with such a passion and commitment for bringing out the best result was very nice.

I’m also very happy with the results of the piece, which involves the very difficult idea of having two independent but coordinated music pieces sounding together, the ensemble reacted very well to the concept of following one colleague but trying not to follow other ones.

Nevertheless, I’m also looking very forward to further performances of the piece, since I think (and also many musicians of the ensemble told me) there are things that still can mature, I find the decision very important of having all the pieces being performed at least once again.

Finally, I should also say that the place where we worked in Thessaloniki was wonderful. The working atmosphere was very good and I think that part of this was the beautiful environment. During these very intense sessions of hours and hours of rehearsals, having those little pauses in front of the sea was very refreshing. Prof. Lapidakis hospitality also helped this excellent conditions, who showed us some of Thessaloniki’s culinary treasures.

Petros Leivadas

Since I was an active composer on the first circle of Composer Collider Europe and considering the fact that the first concert of the circle would take place in Thessaloniki, this first phase was quite a challenge. Thessaloniki is my hometown and Musikfabrik is one of the best ensembles for contemporary music, so this concert was a matter of grave importance to me.

First of all, one of the most important aspects for me was working in an intensive way with the members of the ensemble and the conductor. I realized many different ways of musical praxis, while the ensemble led me to a more professional and fast way of working with the material of my piece. Furthermore, I had the chance to work closely with the musicians and the conductor not only on the level of sound itself but also on a very deep level of what interpretation is. We worked on the gestures of the performers and the physicality of their body during performance (Köperlichkeit), the articulation of musical phrasing and the duration of a specific musical idea, elements which seem to be neglected by the contemporary music scene. Another important fact of the rehearsal time was that the members of the ensemble were open to aesthetic conversations and interpretations of the pieces and they were more than interested to enrich their understanding considering the motivation of the composers.

On the other side lies the performance of the concert itself. It was the first time for me to attend such a good organisational process. The ensemble was prepared for everything with sound technicians and stage management. This situation led the performance of the four pieces to clarity and honestly convinced the audience. I grew up in Thessaloniki and I have attended many concerts of contemporary music there, but this was the first time that I saw the audience so concentrated and devoted to the ritual of a concert. From the very first moment that the ensemble entered the stage, they transmitted a very imposing energy which we have never seen again in a concert of contemporary music. In addition, the ensemble approached every piece individually, allowing the authenticity of each composer to appear on the surface, an element which communicated to the audience a great flow of a concert and not another new music performance.

Last but not least, I was really amazed by the results of the Spielbar workshop. Spielbar is a parallel side of the project which in my humble opinion makes it more vivid. The people, students and artists who participated were thrilled and the results of the creative process were really satisfying.

I am very much looking forward to continue this journey in the next years, to learn and to collaborate more with such amazing musicians and composers in such a wonderful environment.

Zesses Seglias

The first circle of Composer Collider Europe closed with the concert in Thessaloniki. This was exceptional for me, since I was an active composer and also had my piece performed in the city where I have been living in the last seven years.

This last phase of the first circle, the preparation and the performance of the concert was of course the pinnacle of the programme so far. To work within a professionally organised context (altogether the CCE staff, the AUTh administration and all the participants with their attitude) with Ensemble Musikfabrik was a unique experience in seeing how a highly professional ensemble can handle their rehearsal time in between four completely different pieces; apart from solving very different problems that occurred during the rehearsals, they paid much attention to the musical aspect of the pieces, the interpretation. This last aspect gave the concert a very special atmosphere, making the audience (in a full house) embrace the event with warmth. Having attended quite a few contemporary music concerts, Ι can confirm that this was one of the most intimate, warm and enthusiastic concerts in this venue over the last years. The same atmosphere was prevailing the room during the Spielbar sessions.

Besides the concert, the last phase was actually the most important stage in the process of working on the piece with the ensemble. Since the programme runs over a period of many years, its ultimate essence in my opinion is to have the chance to take the relationship between composition and performance practice a step further. Having a first performance (and a private recording) is an important help in the process of correcting things and developing the piece. This is something that used to be a common place among musicians, but nowadays only in a few occasions occurs (definitely not in an educational environment). This is something new that Composer Collider Europe brings and in this sense, I feel lucky to have my piece performed already in the first concert.

I am looking forward to meeting the ensemble and the composers again and continuing the journey around Europe.

Sara Zamboni

As a participant of CCE I had the chance of having a new piece of mine performed by and developed expressly for Ensemble Musikfabrik.

My Master’s Research is indeed based on composing for a combination of instruments and recorded instruments on tape.

In a regular school situation, a conducted 20 minutes composition for 11 instruments and 11 instruments on tape together with a 6-channels playback would not have been possible for the following reasons: different levels of skills among the students, different levels of commitment and overall the difficulty of working with people who are not used to play together.

I am extremely satisfied to notice that my intuition about some processes could be practically realized in such a short time.

The development of my piece for CCE took a big part of my school life in the past year and I was very impressed that I received all the support I needed from Musikfabrik production office, the audio engineer and stage manager, and all the musicians who took time to answer my questions via email (in the preparation period) and immediately (during the rehearsals).

The conductor Christian Eggen was so professional and kind to establish a constructive conversation about some issues in my score in the months prior to the trip to Thessaloniki so I could adjust my score, my parts and the organization of the tape into smaller cues triggered by a laptop and it was a great solution to translate my creative thoughts into practice.

Thanks to the professional exchange of information with the members of Ensemble Musikfabrik, I could modify some of my musical ideas in order to make them more effective during the rehearsals, and they worked out very well and smoothly during the concert. [Additionally, I realized I had some skills I did not know before…].

I can only be satisfied about how it went at the end. I saw that all my efforts were worth it and appreciated by all the people working in the team to make this possible. After this experience, I got more and more motivation to pursue my composition research writing more pieces for recorded instruments on tape and live instruments. It is a method that requires a huge amount of time – compared to writing only instrumental music or only electronic music – but the professional and human support I received from the Ensemble convinced me that this is how I should work, that I am on the good track, and I feel more mature in my decisions as a composer and even grown in the organization behind my own daily work schedule. I also realized I was ready for that and that it is possible that this is going to be my job.