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 #23: Poetics of Fallibility
Kate Molleson in conversation with Rebecca Saunders
Darmstadt On Air #22: Devising Tactilities
Episode number 22 of Darmstadt On Air presents a conversation between choreographer and director Vera Tussing and composer Michael Picknett. They talk about the intersection between composing and choreographing using devising techniques. They specifically refer to one of their latest collaborations – Tactile Quartet(s) –, a dance performance that was realized in collaboration with four dancers and the string quartet Quatuor MP4. The question how creation and curation can be developed in the fluid processes between choreography and music was also part of their conversation.
Darmstadt On Air #21: There's always a pilot to each piece
One of the central themes of this year’s Darmstadt festival is artistic collaboration and collective creativity. We are interested in how collaborative processes work, especially in the field of musical creation, where we still have a strong concept of authorship, division of labour between composers and performers, but on the other hand collaboration is fundamental for big parts of music making.
In this context we’ve invited Ensemble Pamplemousse to create a concert project for Darmstadt with new compositions. Based in the US, the ensemble consists of five different composer-performer personalities. Over the last two years we’ve discussed several possible formats with the ensemble – and had to realize in the end that, due to the pandemic, the group would not be able to come to Darmstadt personally. So they’ve created a filmed version of their project Shadows that will be shown on August 4, 2021 as a stream.
For the 21st episode of our Darmstadt On Air audio podcast, the music journalist and curator Peter Meanwell interviewed Ensemble Pamplemousse in June 2021 when they were together in Philadelphia, preparing their Darmstadt project.
Ensemble Pamplemousse is: Natacha Diels, Bryan Jacobs, Andrew Greenwald, David Broome and Weston Olencki.
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.