REQUIEM (1998) (with Helmut Oehring)
for 3 countertenors, 12 instruments and tapes,
(FP: Paris/Donaueschingen/Brüssel 1998) duration: 55’

after the 9 psalms O Ye Tongues from ‘The Death Notebook’ by Anne Sexton

commissioned by Donaueschinger Musiktage in coproduction with Festival
d’ Automne à Paris, Kaaitheater, Brussels, Philharmonic Society of Brussels, Ictus

World Premiere: 13/10/1998 Opera National, Paris, Festival d’Automne/
Donaueschingen/ Brüssel
David Newman / Arno Raunig / Jean Nirouet / Ictus Ensemble / Georges-Elie Octors


three counter-tenors, basset hn.dbcl-3tpt.2trbn-perc(2)-prepared pft(=sampler,harmonium)- gtr(=elec.gtr)-elec.bass- gtr-vln.vla.vlc-live electronics

requiem-1998.jpeg recommended cd: Donaueschinger Musiktage 1998, col legno WWE 4CD 20050

Requiem in tandem (February 1999)
A recent example of the intriguing co-composer collaboration between Helmut Oehring and Iris ter Schiphorst, Requiem for three countertenors, ensemble and electronics, was unveiled at the Festival d’Automne in Paris on 13 October. The premiere was given by the Ictus Ensemble conducted by George-Elie Octors, and further performances took place at the Donaueschingen Festival and in Brussels. The new work takes as its starting point Mozart’s Requiem, which provides both a structural frame and an iconic reference point at the interface between music and the spiritual realm. From here the two composers explore in their individual terms the meaning of death and the transitory nature of human existence, with a fascinating dual musical input reflecting the different perspectives of the speechless world experienced by Oehring and the speech-rich world of Schiphorst.

Their joint creative activities were inaugurated in 1996 when Oehring asked to use melodic material by Schiphorst in his dance-opera The D’Amato System, premiered at the Munich Biennale. They then experimented with wholesale co-composition in the highly successful Polaroids, which was given its first performance by Ensemble Modern the same year. This is a work in which compositional and personal issues are inextricably entwined: the solo part for a deaf sign artist is a poignant reflection of Oehring’s childhood as the hearing son of deaf-and-dumb parents, and this is counterpointed with the part for male soprano created by Schiphorst, representing the speaking world and society at large.

Texts by the American writer Anne Sexton, one of the most admired of the ‘confessional poets’, have provided inspiration for a number of recent works by Oehring and Schiphorst, including the new Requiem. Sexton’s poetry was first transformed from the textual into the instrumental realm in Sexton A, a solo work commissioned by violist Tabea Zimmermann in which Oehring employs melodic material by Schiphorst. The fullest influence of Sexton to date is heard in LIVE (aus: Androgyn), named after one of her poems. Premiered to great acclaim at Witten in 1997, it is one of the most distinctive examples of Oehring and Schiphorst’s collaborative work, employing fractured textual treatment and violent contrasts of mood and manner akin to cinematic cuts. A dark and surreal world is conjured up through extended instrumental and vocal techniques, the percussive use of prepared piano, and the electronic transformation of the sound.

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