However, the proven form of the solo concerto with comments on the pieces will not change.
The 6 themes and the composer in charge:
A breakdown by year has not yet been made here. For each theme there is a short text by me, in the course of time it is supplemented by texts of the composers and their programmes.
Many rightly claim that art, and with it music, is always political. Just as rightly, however, it is questioned whether it is possible for music to convey a clear (political-social) message through music. Right and left rock music, for example, differ more in their lyrics than in the music itself.
How much can New Music nevertheless succeed in taking up political processes? Are there pieces that formulate certain questions unambiguously or of which musicians are certain that the particularities of a work clearly pose questions in the direction of society and politics? Does music by "political" composers (such as Nono, Nikolaus A. Huber, Henze) differ from that of their colleagues (and why)?
In our society, musicians (unless they have sufficient resources from other sources) live within the framework of the cultural business. The selection of composition commissions, of played pieces and programme concepts is not least always dependent on economic issues. Even to the question of whether all those involved in the music business can devote sufficient time to the individual project or whether economic reasons force them to accept any possible project (and thus have too much work). Or the aspect that certain requests require a "yes" in order to strengthen or maintain one's own reputation, which in turn has financial consequences.
So there are (at least) two fields that could be reflected in music: On the one hand, the economy as a whole and, on the other, the specific question of the economic dependence of one's own actions.
Science allows humans to understand the world around us. Science gives us the tools to make sense of how we, and the world, work. It reveals where we came from, how everything began - indeed, science also tells us how everything will end [idea explored in Wilson/Na kraju (at the end)].
Science uncovers the mysteries behind the processes of life and gives us the knowledge to understand those processes [Korać/Decomposition // Mulvey/Syzygy (has both astronomical and biological meanings)]. Science itself is the process of inquiry and exploration, of pushing and breaking boundaries and discovering the New [Saunders & Lim, explorations of instrument]. Science continues to give us advances and inventions that make life better, more comfortable, and more interesting [reflected in Ueno/Age of Aircraft].
My programme reflects all these aspects of science, and even includes a connection to those literary and cinematic genres (Science Fiction!) which take scientific ideas and extrapolate them far beyond their stated possibilities [Lim/Invisibility].
(Ian Wilson)Homepage Ian Wilson
In the Middle Ages music belongs within the septem artes liberales to the quadrivium, along with mathematics, arithmetic and astronomy. In the trivium, grammar, rhetoric and dialectic are contrasted. This is astonishing, because trivium is actually about the humanities - in modern terms - but music stands together with the natural sciences. According to today's understanding, the classification would have been assumed to be different.
In our culture, science and technology are interlinked. Does this mean that taking up new techniques is also a reference to science? Is making large amounts of data audible already music? Is it even worthwhile to let science flow into music? Where does a connection between music and (natural) science show up in today's pieces?
Art certainly has something to do with expression. In music, this is often reduced to the expression of emotions. But expression can mean much more than that. One can express one's opinion and there are mathematical expressions, just to mention two more examples.
How can music do that, express emotions? Can it be precise, or does it get stuck in general? And what can music express beyond emotions? How one-dimensional is the idea of emotional expression possibly?
We all have an idea of what a cello sounds like. Regardless of whether the cello is used "as usually", or whether so-called new ways of playing play a role, or whether it is used as an experimental field for previously unheard sounds: Perhaps because I am a cellist, I am always seduced by the sound of the cello.
Where is the sound while composing respectively in the finished piece? Is it, so to speak, the surface that results from a deeper structure? Or is it the starting point that gives birth to a certain structure of the work out of itself? Are there any differences between pieces that emanate from the one or the other - can you still recognize that in the finished piece at all? Can pure sound become the carrier of content?
The contrast between "work" and "process" can certainly be questioned. Each individual work is always also a process: be it as a score (work1) on the basis of its genesis, which can never be "momentary" and always contains open-endedness and ramifications, even if in the end a supposedly final version confronts us. But also the work as the sounding result of the rehearsal work (work2) is at the same time completed and process. Many particularly elaborate compositions that have been completed "work-wise" have been created in processes lasting years or even decades and are thus only a selection of the materials created, used, selected and discarded for the composition, and every composition, however "processually" openly revealed, is a "work" (at the latest) at the moment of its performance, even if, in the case of a graphic or aleatoric composition for example, it can never be reproduced in any way.
Beyond that, however, the work in the sense of the complete works of an artistically active personality (work3) is itself a process that encompasses the entire creative biography and from which every single work1 that appears to be completed and noted out is only a fragmentary excerpt.
The program conception is based on this dialectic. First of all, it contains two pieces each by the three selected composers, as it were "samples" or "sampling moments" of the overall biographical continuum, as excerpts from the process that manifests itself as a work3. This may already give the impression that the differences between the early and later pieces by Scelsi, who supposedly composed in a processual, large-scale "flow", are greater than those between Mamlok and Shapey, who can be more clearly assigned to a "work" aesthetic. However, there are other secondary aspects behind this: Scelsi saw himself as the rebirth of a former existence, and thus in turn only as part of a larger process. Ursula Mamlok, for her part, found in Ralph Shapey the teacher best able to introduce her to that continuum (be it actual or supposed) as which Western music presents itself to us, and which in the case of Mamlok and Shapey goes back to Wolpe, Schönberg, Busoni, Liszt, Beethoven, Bach and early vocal polyphony. Shapey's Krosnick solos are part of a music-historical process, because it also refers to the history of interpretation, i. e. to the work2 aspect (and Joel Krosnick again played the world premiere of Mamlok's composition).
In addition, various aspects of the idea of processuality are important in the pieces themselves: in the form of variations (in Mamlok's Fantasy Variations), in the superimposition of three levels or individual works to form a third (in Shapey's Solo Duo Trio) and, of course, in Scelsi's works, which postulate by their form that they have neither beginning nor end, and yet of course must begin and end in every performance just as much as any other composition. The allusion to the ages in Scelsi's trilogy may be understood as a further reference to processes as well as to completed stages (in ancient Rome, as is well known, it was possible to divide the ages very precisely into twenty-year-steps).
The "instruction manual" for the program reflects all of this in its openness to how the cellist may deal with the works and their limitations. Everything is possible - from the conventional concert form, strictly divided into a programme sequence with pause, to a continuous sound band in which the boundaries of the works need not differ any more.
(Benjamin Schweitzer)Homepage Benjamin Schweitzer
Some pieces of music are clearly intended as a process, others as a finished works. Nevertheless, there are always cases in which something that one thought was a finished work is still changed (shortly after the premiere or even decades later). And occasionally there are such convincing versions of processually planned works that they are given a work character.
Is there any difference between work and process at all? Isn't music as art, apart from pre-produced music, always a process anyway, never just a work, due to the role of the performer? And what about the audience that hears a step in the process as it would hear a finished work? So is the difference noticeable except in the program booklet text? And if so, how?