What if you play hymns in a Salvation Army Band from the moment that you can hold an instrument – and never put it down again?
What if you don’t study tuba – but become a professional tuba player anyway?
What if you want to build your repertoire – but only with music that has never been heard before?
What if you are a composer, improviser, electronic music artist – and want to pack all of that into the tuba?
What if you were part of the British experimental music scene – and want to keep working that way on the continent?
What if you are passionate about indeterminacy – but the world is constantly counting on a predictable outcome?
What if you are an ardent mediator between new music and new listeners?
What if your English sense of humor is looking for an outlet in Germany?
What if the music grooves you to dance – whether others hear it or not?
What if your instrument is not even called a tuba – but rather an E flat bass?
And what if one bell is not enough?
With so many unique characteristics, you obviously become a member of Ensemble Musikfabrik – and then start pushing the ensemble towards the future.
For nearly 30 years, the ensemble has profited from Melvyn Poore’s unique input, amazing low tones, ethereal high frequencies, and mysteriously unidentifiable sounds. His provoking thoughts and ideas often went against the group’s collective reasoning, like using the computer for administrative work and music production, among many other concepts. (At the time Melvyn joined Musikfabrik, the ensemble preferred fax machines and only owned one PC) His leadership in working on group dynamics and ensemble building, his efforts in introducing the British experimental school, Cage, and many other lesser-known but influential composers to our body of work – as well as his gifts as an improviser, educator, and simply wonderful guy – have added many qualities to the ensemble that are unique and definitive.
His contributions helped establish Ensemble Musikfabrik as one of the most respected, creative, and successful ensembles for contemporary music worldwide. We’d like to take the opportunity in this brochure marking the beginning of his final year as an active member to thank Melvyn Poore for everything that he has contributed to the ensemble. Let it be said loud and clear: For all that we have learned from our dear colleague about music and expression and life, none of us dance to the music like Melvyn.
Christine Chapman und Marco Blaauw
Unfortunately, the concert on June 27 must be postponed due to illness. It will be made up at the next opportunity.
We are looking forward to the concert curated by Melvyn Poore on Monday, June 27 at our space at Mediapark and invite everyone to join us.
Fortunately, however, this will not be the last joint performance. Soon Melvyn will be back on stage with us as soloist of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Transit at the Festival Musica Strasbourg.
Our next Monday concert will feature the world premieres of the new works “အမှောင် – A Hmaung” by Hein Tint for Pat Waing, trombone and piano and “Aneignung” by Orm Finnendahl for Pat Waing, trombone and microtonal synthesizer. The pieces are embedded in a program of traditional music from Myanmar, electro-acoustic improvisations with the computer program “Quo” by composer Orm Finnendahl and miniatures for trombone and piano by György Kurtág.
The concert is the result of four preceding workshops with improvisational, compositional and medial parts and changing understandings of the roles of soloist, composer and ensemble. The outcome is a concert evening in which the diverse musical influences, origins and approaches of the participants become audible, in which common and different things can stand side by side and be heard anew in the juxtaposition.
Matthias Mainz: “Working with music from different stylistic contexts and especially with musicians from different musical cultures requires equal respect and attention to the other and their contexts. And contrary to the linear idea of a universalistic power of music, which automatically creates connection in exchange, the confrontation with differences presupposes knowledge of the contextuality of one’s own music-cultural knowledge and of what Donald Rumsfeld once called the “unknown unknowns”: the knowledge that not even the exact extent of one’s own ignorance of the culture, the contexts and the sensibilities of the other can be known. And if we are honest, this ignorance of the scope of the stranger also concerns an ignorance of our own inner changing contexts of thoughts and imprints, which are also never as linear and fixed in ourselves as we think ourselves to be.”
The Burmese Hsaing Waing master Hein Tint from Pyawbwe in Mandalay Province was a central actor of cultural exchange projects from Germany and France in the first years after the democratic opening of Myanmar. After moving with his family to Berlin in 2017, Hein Tint’s collaboration with his ensemble in Myanmar was now impossible due to the military coup of February 2021. The project is part of the effort to keep Hein Tint’s collaborations with Western musicians going and to explore the possibilities of his wonderful instrument Pat Waing in new contexts.
A cooperation of Ensemble Musikfabrik and Plattform für Transkulturelle Neue Musik e.V. with the kind support of the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
Orm Finnendahl – Aneignung (2022) world premiere
for Hsaing Waing, trombone, piano and electronics
Hein Tint – အမှောင် / A Hmaung / Darkness (2022) world premiere
for Hsaing Waing, trombone and piano
György Kurtág – Sechs Stücke für Posaune und Klavier (1999)
ထံတျာ / Htan Teya / trad. Children’s song
Orm Finnendahl/Ensemble – Quo – Improvisations/Signal-
It is with great sadness that we learned of Harrison Birtwistle’s passing this past Monday. We worked with him last intensively in the context of the Musikfest Berlin and our Musikfabrik im WDR series, as composer and conductor, and associate many warm, funny and musically exhilarating moments with him.
Carl Rosman shares a personal memory of the composer that tells us much about his warm and humorous nature.
His music will remain.
Perhaps now that Harry isn’t with us any more this story can finally be told.
I had a bit of a Birtwistle phase in 2019: a long-term project of reviving his withdrawn Four Interludes for a Tragedy (for basset clarinet and tape) came to fruition thanks to Tom Hall’s reconstruction of the lost tape part from Peter Zinovieff’s original materials. I performed the Interludes that May at the University of Surrey, meeting Peter in the process. So when English National Opera revived Harry’s Mask of Orpheus (for which Peter wrote the extraordinary libretto) in October, I decided to go along. The only night which really fitted around the Ensemble Musikfabrik schedule was the first night, so I thought I might as well do it properly—I invested in a seat at the front of the dress circle and brought a suit.
Nic Hodges also travelled over from Germany for the occasion, so we met up beforehand for a cup of tea and a chat. We then strolled on down to the Coliseum; we were seated in different parts of the auditorium so after cloaking our things we went our separate ways. I was wondering if I would bump into Harry at some point—I had only met him properly a couple of years before, around Ensemble Musikfabrik’s performances of his Five Lessons in a Frame in Köln and his Dowland arrangements in Berlin. (The Dowland is a particularly precious memory for the ensemble: Harry is certainly not the best of the conductors to have shared the Berlin Philharmonie stage with us, but by the time he had gently guided us through his arrangements we wouldn’t have swapped him for anyone else in the business.) I decided a trip to the conveniences was prudent, and on my way there ran into Harry himself, who had presumably just completed a similar mission. We exchanged greetings and a quick hug. Perfect, I thought: I presumably wouldn’t manage to spend any serious time with him on such a busy occasion but I had at least managed a crossing of paths.
It was definitely an all-star audience. The entire London new music community seemed to be present, and for good measure Alfred Brendel was two seats to my left. In the second interval I went downstairs to see if I could find Nic. Instead I found Harry again, and Peter Zinovieff. Peter introduced me to Harry: “Harry, this is Carl, he played our Interludes”. To which Harry replied “yeah, I know him, he’s my friend”. I must have blushed profusely.
The opera was greeted with thunderous applause and as soon as Harry shuffled on stage the audience rose to their feet as one. Peter was also up on stage in his capacity as librettist and received a hearty kiss on the cheek from Harry. On my way out, into whom should I bump but Harry again. I congratulated him; he asked if I was there alone and at my “yes, I am” grabbed my hand and dragged me into the lift and up to the first-night reception. It was a bit loud and crowded up there, so he retired, drink in hand, to a less densely populated part of the upper circle foyer, along with Peter and his wife Jenny. We chatted for a bit and then the Zinovieffs took their leave. Harry sat there for a bit longer and then grabbed my hand again: back into the lift, down to the ground floor foyer, and straight out the door, pausing only to give a hug to the extravagantly-dressed costume designer.
As he charged out into the streets of Soho I asked if he was taking us anywhere specific. “Yeah.” Soon we arrived at the Garrick Club, where he was a member, and headed straight to the dining room. (I was glad I had brought that suit.) He ordered a bottle of a very muscular Pinot Noir and told me to pick something to eat. So we spent an hour or so chattering away on various subjects (in our few conversations these invariably included Alan Hacker and Reginald Kell, my two favourite clarinettists on record, one of whom was Harry’s collaborator and colleague for forty-odd years and the other of whom was Harry’s own clarinet teacher). We had pretty much finished off the bottle when Sir David Pountney (Director of Productions at ENO during Mask of Orpheus’ original run in 1986) arrived and we had a bit more of a natter about the evening’s proceedings.
Eventually the dining room shut up shop and Harry headed up to bed. I wandered along to the Groucho Club to rejoin Nic Hodges for a final martini, and then toddled off towards my hotel, with an occasional actual laugh along the way.
I did have another chance to meet Harry after that: he came to Nic’s recording of Gigue Machine and other pieces at the WDR not long after, and I snuck in as page-turner, so some more fine memories resulted. Without the pandemic there would have been even more, of course. But as compensation there is, at least, the music: and there is a lot of it, and as far as I’m concerned the best of it can stand comparison with literally anything.
Vladimir Guicheff Bogacz – Dottore Falloppio (2020)
for horn solo, English horn, trumpet, violin, viola and double bass
Christine Chapman, horn solo
Peter Veale, English horn
Marco Blaauw, trumpet
Sara Cubarsi, violin
Axel Porath, viola
Florentin Ginot, double bass
Janet Sinica, video/editing
Jan Böyng, editing
Stephan Schmidt, recording producer/editing
In the XVI century Dr. Gabriele Falloppio made important discoveries in the field of anatomy. He worked quite a lot on the internal ear, and on the reproductive systems. In Spanish, the fallopian tube (or uterine tubes) are called trompas de falopio, that means exactly falopio’s french horn.
While I was writing a solo previous version of the piece, my first son was about to come to the world, thus my mind was quite full of anatomy and efforts of childbirth.
The production of most of the horn sounds on this piece have to me something quite visceral, somehow a more direct or clear birth of the sound.
In the mid-60’ Jimi Hendrix made important discoveries in the field of new (electric) sound, not to mention the construction of a unique musical language.
Dottore Falloppio makes extended use of the harmony and melodic gestures of a very well-known Hendrix version of a song (guess which one…) and is completely inspired by the innovations of Hendrix’s electric and distorted sound applied to the acoustic classical instruments.
Vladimir Guicheff Bogacz
Samuel Solís-Serrano – ʾmr (2018)
for violin solo
Sara Cubarsi, violin
Janet Sinica, video/editing
Julius Gass, recording producer/editing
Marcus Schmickler – Could You Patent the Sun? (2020)
Marco Blaauw, double bell trumpet
Christine Chapman, double bell horn
Bruce Collings, double bell trombone
Melvyn Poore, double bell euphonium
Janneke van der Putten, voice
Marcus Schmickler, computer
Janet Sinica, video
Jan Böyng, Janet Sinica, editing
Stephan Schmidt, music recording and mix
Comissioned by Monheim Triennale
Enno Poppe – Prozession (2015/20)
for large ensemble
commissioned by Ensemble Musikfabrik, Bernd and Ute Bohmeier, Festival AFEKT and Kunststiftung NRW
Enno Poppe, conductor
Wolfgang Ellers, sound engineer
Robert Gummlich, Video Director
Video Production, Streaming Factory GmbH & Co. KG
recorded as part of the Ensemblefestival for Contemporary Music 2020, Leipzig
Kölner Philharmonie Nov. 22nd, 2020
© Ricordi & Co. Ltd
Enno Poppe had started the work five years ago but stopped Prozession around minute 8. The plan was to pick it up again at some point. The piece, Poppe thought, would be about 15 minutes. It turned out to be three times as long. When he put the score back on the desk in mid-March last year as everything came to a stop outside, the piece suddenly took on a life of its own, recalls Poppe: it kept expanding, kept unfolding. Although he had planted the seed for this development back in 2015 and had designed a growth structure with a concrete logic of proportions, the fact that this momentum would carry him so far was still a big surprise in the end.
Enno Poppe loves plans, but he loves music even more, and if the music outgrows or simply leaves his plans behind when he composes, “then that’s good, too.” That means concretely in this case: In the very first draft, Prozession was to consist of nine sections, each with nine subsections. The actual culmination of the final number 81 is, according to Poppe, due to the persistence of the material and not by the stubbornness of the composer.
The nine sections expose various instrumental duets and longer solos against the backdrop of a block-like shifting percussion line. In the first section, for example, the flute and violin correspond, with a viola added for background reinforcement. A common melodic line develops from the duo, which then leads into a chord at the end of this section, to then lead without interruption to the next section with the next duo, the next line, the next chord. The individual segments thereby become continuously longer, everything increasingly begins to flow. And it is precisely this fluidity that is the point, an energy that sweeps everything along with it, dissolving and turning it into pure movement, including the formal segmentation that dissolves into the soundscape.
The movement itself has no logic, but arises from a bodily feeling, is corporeal, not physiological: “The more I detach myself from the structure, the more I write myself free.” Freedom is also achieved by the idea of continuous elongation. By constantly lengthening the individual sections, they lose their intrinsic creative significance, not only enabling increasing leeway but even forcing its use.
This, then, is the process. But where is the procession?
Poppe’s silence about the meaning of his titles is legendary. Prozession, however, lays a comparatively tangible trail. For the process, only one thing – it goes on and on according to a specific plan. Processions, however, not only move forward but also lead in a very concrete direction and to a goal. The destination is precisely located geographically, but spiritually it is wide open. As a journey, the procession leads to a place; as an inner movement, it moves into infinity. And it has also drawn Poppe, as it were, into the infinite, to a previously unknown point in his compositional work: “Something has happened here that I have never written before.”
One may speculate about what this means and what this grand march of Prozession stands for. As listeners, we experience it as a movement in waves that grow higher and more powerful. Outwardly, an energetic climax of acceleration and dynamics is already reached by the sixth section, but instead of leveling off after that, the process-like intensification shifts inward, as it were. Contours disappear; our sense of scale does too. Rhythmically, the last remnants of a pulse are lost. Harmonically, we find no support in the extremely compressed microtonal chords, nothing to which we can relate them.
This total disorientation, however, is not a catastrophe but seems like a promise of boundless freedom and happiness: “At some point, everything feels right. There is nothing wrong anymore.”