'Whistle-Blower' was composed for the exceptional flutist Jeremias Schwarzer, who not only delights with interesting and unusual programs, but also inspires new compositions for his instrument with great curiosity and enthusiasm.
The premiere of the complete version is the result of a multi-layered working process between the composer and the flutist, based on a very specific procedure, the so-called 'Performative Composing'. It refers to what the feminist performance theorist Della Pollock called 'Performative Writing', which I transferred to the composition process.
With the help of this process, different layers of times, states, intensities, languages, but also physical gestures are condensed into a very own 'code'. All these layers take their starting point from the first 'performative settings' between soloist and composer.
In the final 'performance' (= the concert), the soloist has to 'translate' this complexity, which has coagulated into code, into writing, into a living 'now-time'. The string orchestra acts as an attractor, giving ground to the soloist with rhythmic patterns.
And what is this about the title 'Whistle-Blower'? And how does Chelsea Manning come into play?
On the term 'Performative Composing'
In a first step, a setting was created for the soloist, in which he had to improvise according to certain guidelines worked out by the composer.
These improvisations, or more precisely: these 'performances' were recorded and further processed in various ways in subsequent work steps (transcribed, edited, cut into samples, examined with the help of spectral analysis, etc.). The important thing was to find a setting that would enable the soloist to arrive at a kind of 'proper time', a form of 'isomorphism' (simultaneity) of performing body (i.e. trained movements), hearing/seeing, perceiving/thinking. For in the improvisational situation of a 'performance', in this special form of highest concentration, something can take place that cannot be invented in the media of writing alone.
This procedure, as described, borrows from what feminist performance theorist Della Pollock calls 'Performative Writing'. Pollock writes of 6 criteria:
'Performative writing' works citationally, reflecting and enacting itself within what has already been written (or recorded, I.t.S.): "Citational writing figures writing as rewriting, as the repetition of given discursive forms that are exceeded in the 'double-time' of performing writing and thereby expose the fragility of identity, history, and culture constituted in rites of textual recurrence."
'Performative writing' evokes what is absent (the soloist's 'original' performance) without merely representing it. Through various acts of re-reading, re-staging and reflecting (on what is recorded), something new and different emerges that nevertheless remains connected to what is absent (the 'first' performance).
Performative writing (composing) rewrites! - i.e. consciously takes up and plays with the manifold differences of sign and signified; it does not believe in the identity of sign and signified at any moment.
'Performative writing' (composing) evokes an infinite chain of 'translations' (transformations). (Very specifically related to the compositional process are the various ways of transferring the source material through media-technical procedures such as spectral analysis, translation into midi, translation into musical notation/notation, translation into audio, translation into musical notation, translation into a performance in the rehearsals and the premiere).
'Performative writing' always takes its beginning from a 'performance' whose most important characteristic, besides 'fleetingness', (and 'uniqueness') is the greatest possible isomorphism (simultaneity) of body/ i.e. trained movements, hearing/ seeing, perceiving/ thinking. This 'initial performance' is - like any performance - unrepeatable and unrepresentable.
'Performance Writing' is permeated by very different temporalities! Time of the performance, time of the 're-reading, time of the re-writing, (=time of the media-technical adaptations), time of the 'concert-event/the conert-performance).
Ensemble Resonanz plays political thriller with recorder
by Daniel Kaiser, 02.06.2021
...Dutch composer Iris ter Schiphorst has set to music the story of whistleblower Chelsea Manning and her revelations about a US airstrike with civilian casualties in Iraq in 2007 - sensibly as a recorder concerto. The "whistleblower" Jeremias Schwarzer first holds his instrument 'wrong' - like a flute. He blows into it, and yet only soundless air comes out. He sings into his instrument, disassembles flutes, blows into them from different sides and desperately searches for a tone. In the end, he duplicates the recorder sound into a shrill, alarmist whistle sound - the sound of the whistleblower!
The orchestra acoustically attacks the whistleblower with jolts, blows and sharp lashes - somewhere between "Psycho" and "Jaws." The musicians beat their instruments and declaim sounds and texts: The women explode vowels, the men consonants. Insults are shouted in chorus. In addition, recordings of the radio traffic during the attack in Iraq are played. One hears gunshots. It is a thriller, a radio play - an Elbphilharmonie crime scene! With Iris ter Schiphorst's composition, Ensemble Resonanz succeeds in creating a piece of oppressive musical theater that deeply explores the whistleblower's state of mind - his fears and doubts, but also his courage. This quarter of an hour goes close.
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