6. Mai 2015

Expanding the field of play

An invitation to Ensemble Musikfabrik’s „Campus“

Campus, that means school – but also schoolyard. A place of learning and lingering, concentrating and relaxing, organizing and improvising, listening and conversing. It’s no different on Musikfabrik’s campus, except that in this case, the musicians get to decide for themselves where they should be: inside or outside. The lesson plan is not written by a strict headmaster, but rather developed through individual engagement and the given situation, depending on what seems important at the moment.

The ensemble has designated 30 days of school for each of the coming three years, divided into various work periods. 30 days for the luxury of working with guests to expand personal horizons, experience new things, learn new skills, develop new ideas – and all without the pressure to deliver a concrete result or achieve a specific goal at the end. „We already know exactly that we want to do something, just not exactly what that something will be,“ is how Acting Executive Director Marco Blaauw describes this journey into the unknown.

Although some paths are for practical reasons already predetermined. During the first Campus, we are taken on a trip through the instrument cosmos of Harry Partch, among other places. The composers Carola Bauckholt, Sampo Haapamäki, Klaus Lang, Simon Steen-Andersen, Helge Sten and Caspar Johannes Walter, the electroacoustic musician Tarek Atoui, and the conductor Clement Power will explore with the members of the ensemble if and how it might be possible to do something with Partch’s instruments besides playing Partch. Can the instruments specially built for the Ruhrtriennale production of „Delusion of a Fury“ by combined with other instruments, can they be integrated into a traditional ensemble, is it even possible to step away from the very idiosyncratic aesthetic of Harry Partch? Finding the answers to these questions takes time – „Time, that during normal working conditions, between rehearsals and concerts, we just don’t have.“ The Campus provides time, not only to find the answers, but to be able to formulate the questions in the first place. During the second Campus, the Swiss theater director Massimo Furlan will probably come up with many of his initial ideas on site. Normally working with actors and performers, Campus will provide him with a first time opportunity to develop a piece with musicians: „Can he request the musicians to crawl around naked on the stage while stuffing things into their mouths? Or does he have to work closer with the instruments?“ And others, like the composer Liza Lim, who have already gathered rich experiences in music theater, can collect new ideas completely without restraint. Liza Lim will experiment with musical processes for the premier of a work commissioned by the Oper Köln, while improviser and guitarist David Hotep will share his experiences with the jazz legend, Sun Ra, who died in 1993. It is not possible to decipher Sun Ra’s works through scores alone, many of the pieces aren’t even written down and can only be explained by friends and colleagues like Hotep.

Campus keeps all doors open wide: whether workshops or lectures, public recitals or intimate meetings, vocal training or marketing education – Musikfabrik’s Campus is a place without limitations. One thing, however, is absolutely required during Campus, emphasizes Marco Blaauw: personal presence. In times of e-learning and video conferencing, it is a concept that has become quite an anachronism. „We are all going to be here, in this space, physically, the entire time. No matter what we end up doing: we’re going to do it together.“

Campus is financed through the Arts Foundation, which for years has been the ensemble’s steadfast partner for the funding of special projects. Marco Blaauw: „As an institution, we have the tendency to be under-financed. We are therefore very grateful that the Arts Foundation is sponsoring Campus so generously. This support is also an investment in the future. Campus will help us to expand our network, internationally as well, by developing models of cooperation that can be used beyond regional and national borders. In this way, we can sharpen our programmatic profile and better safeguard our finances for the long-term.“

Raoul Mörchen


Campus Musikfabrik 3: May 10 – 21 with Jonathan Burrows und Matteo Fargion, Mouse on Mars, Rebecca Saunders, Martin Smolka, Niklas Seidl, Adrian Nagel and Bodek Janke

Campus Musikfabrik 4: June 2 – 11 with Georges Aphergis amongst others

Public events will be announced in our calendar.