Darmstadt On Air is a series of conversations on music and experiment. In each episode, tutors and guest artists of the Darmstadt Summer Course (Darmstädter Ferienkurse) are hosting a conversation on a subject that is important to them.
Darmstadt On Air #20: Singleton in Darmstadt Again
For the 20th episode of Darmstadt On Air, we will hear an interview with composer Alvin Singleton, conducted by historical musicologist Harald Kisiedu and composer George Lewis on July 19 2021. In 1972, Singleton’s work Argoru II for cello was the first ever to be performed by a Black composer at the Darmstadt Summer Course. Two years later, his Be Natural for three string instruments received the Kranichstein Music Prize.
In this podcast, Singleton talks about his early listening experiences and music studies during his formative years in Brooklyn, New York, his graduate work in composition at Yale University with Mel Powell and Yehudi Wyner, and his activities as the founder of Yale’s Black Music Students Union. Singleton also discusses his fourteen-year sojourn in Italy and Austria, his rich experiences at the Darmstadt Summer Course, where he collaborated with cellist Siegfried Palm and others, and he tells us about the significance of improvisation and cultural intermixture in his life and work.
Singleton’s Again for chamber orchestra, which won the 1979 Musikprotokoll Composition Prize, will be performed at the Darmstadt Summer Course Opening Concert on July 31 2021 by Ensemble Modern, conducted by Enno Poppe. From the Darmstadt archives, we will hear Singleton discussing Again at the Darmstadt Kompositionsstudio in 1979, chaired by Brian Ferneyhough, as well as excerpts of several other Singleton compositions: Et Nunc for alto flute, bass clarinet, and double bass, Be Natural, and Mestizo II for orchestra, from a rare recording of its 1970 premiere by the Yale Symphony Orchestra.
Darmstadt On Air #19: Schöne Stellen – Beautiful Moments
For the 19th episode of Darmstadt On Air, two composers have picked music that they like and find beautiful. Starting with one moment from each other’s oeuvre, Hans Thomalla and Katherine Young discuss music by the Roscoe Mitchell Sextet, by Carola Bauckholt and by Michelle Lou. And they also ask what makes beautiful moments, as did Theodor W. Adorno in his radio essay from 1965 which has the same title: “Schöne Stellen – Beautiful Moments”.
Hans Thomalla has a long history with Darmstadt: winner of the Kranichstein Music Prize in 2004, he has been a regular member of the faculty during the last years. Hans was born in Germany in 1975 and is professor for composition at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he founded and directs the Institute for New Music. Katherine Young works as a composer, bassoonist and improviser. When she first came to Darmstadt in 2014, she won a stipend for the Summer Course two years later and was commissioned a new piece for guitar and electronics. Katherine is now based in Atlanta and teaches composition at Emory University. But she also has deep ties to the Chicago music scene, having lived and made music there for many years.
Darmstadt On Air #18: Tunnels and Threads
Tunnels and threads between concept and performance, the pleasure of hanging out in the world of the initial idea, collective decision making processes: In episode 18 of Darmstadt On Air we are listening to a conversation between composers Malin Bång and Juliana Hodkinson. Malin will be composition tutor at the next Darmstadt Summer Course, Juliana was in 2018. The two artists met some years ago when they shared a teaching position at the Academy for Music and Drama in Gothenburg/Sweden. Since then, they've been following each other’s work with great respect and affection. Their approach to thinking and talking about music, to composing and performing might be different, but they also share central views on the creative process and on conceptual and sonic unity. The composer does not simply deliver the score: much more important for both artists is that a collective finds decisions that make sense. Composing, performing and listening are part of this process in which the body gets more and more important.
Darmstadt On Air #17: Fighting Formations
Episode 17 of Darmstadt On Air is about political activism in music. It is hosted by Peter Meanwell, music journalist and artistic director of Borealis, a festival for experimental music that takes place every year in Bergen, Norway. This year, you can experience the festival online from March 17 to March 21. Peter talks to Marshall Trammell who is invited as Borealis' artist in residence. Born in California in 1972, Marshall Trammell is a percussionist, composer, conductor and archivist. His artistic practice brings together research, political aesthetic theory, activism and community-based production. He investigates artistic strategies to enact change and transformation and understands improvisation as a collective, movement-building tool in the creation of post-capitalist imaginaries.
Darmstadt On Air #16: Dissonance Makes Things Move
We are back from the winter break with episode 16 of Darmstadt On Air, a series of conversations hosted by the Darmstadt Summer Course tutors: Flute tutor Claire Chase met composer Marcos Balter with whom she has been working on several projects, for example the solo flute piece „Pan“ which also exists as a 90-minute music theatre for flute, electronics and participants. Starting from this piece, Claire and Marcos are discussing forms of collectivity and collaboration, scenarios of true exchange and shared knowledge within a framework where power structures are still at work. And they ask which tools we need for unthinking mastery and expertise. They are both based in New York, but met on Zoom on January 15, 2021.
Darmstadt On Air #15: Music theater as heterotopic space
The 15th episode of Darmstadt On Air is hosted by a new composition tutor of the Darmstadt Summer Course: Sarah Nemtsov. She invited the set designer Sebastian Hannak to be her conversation partner in this podcast. At the opera house in Halle he created „Raumbühne Heterotopia“ in 2017, a 360° stage installation conceived as a music-theatre-city where the borders between audience, orchestra and performers are blurred for the benefit of an immersive spatial experience and emphatic „Totaltheater“. In more than ten different formats such as opera, drama, dance, performance or concert, the space can be experienced from totally different perspectives. Sebastian adapted his Heterotopia stage for several theater and music theater productions like Sarah’s opera „Sacrifice“ (2016). That was when the two artists met in Halle some years ago. He started to work on his set design when he only knew parts of Sarah’s music. Maybe more than ever before he was forced to invent reality for a piece on stage. For both of them theater is an extraordinary moment of transition.