Monday Concerts in the Studio of Ensemble Musikfabrik
Although the daring spatial experiments of the postwar avant-garde dissolved the frontal opposition between audience and musicians, the dividing lines between listeners and performers in today’s concerts are still largely cemented in place. Even in the more intimate world of chamber music that due to a reduced physical distance could allow more contact with the audience, soloists and small ensembles still perform their programs at a proper “distance” to the audience.
The Monday Concert series in the studio of Ensemble Musikfabrik is quite a different story. Since October 2011, individual members of the ensemble have curated these concerts, which are then presented to the audience in a special way. Emerging out of the composite of the ensemble, the curating musicians appear in the unusual role of moderator, in addition to their highlighted soloistic presence during the course of the concert. Above all, we get to know the individual members of the ensemble as artistic personalities and are introduced to their aesthetic and intellectual preferences. For example the horn player, Christine Chapman, chose to explore the different languages and dialects among her brass colleagues (NL, USA, USA, UK), in her program “Chestnuts and Other Flowers of Speech” in a reflection on the anthropological connection between language and music. Her program contrasted various contemporary works including Scelsi, Haas and Messiaen with the music of Guillaume Dufay. Meanwhile Ms. Chapman’s brass counterparts were required to perform as speakers in their native dialects.
The themes or motives of the Monday Concerts are associative and playful, sometimes even leaving familiar concert structures, such as tubist Melvyn Poore’s concert, “Fluxus Monday” which involved audience participation and was performed entirely without instruments. Usually though, the programs combine gems of contemporary instrumental music representing the highest levels of compositional and technical craftsmanship.
It need not be mentioned that in a group such as Ensemble Musikfabrik, every member has the makings of a virtuoso. What should be mentioned, however, is that this high level of craftsmanship can be experienced up close and personal during the Monday Concerts, in the intimate atmosphere of the studio. The soundproofed and acoustically optimised studio of Ensemble Musikfabrik was not planned as an event location, but with temporary seating it can be transformed into a small, private concert hall for approximately 80 people. A curious feature of this venue is its seclusion. Windowless and sunken below ground level, it sequesters the audience and musicians from external influences of any kind. In this space(ship) everything is audible, and for the most part also visible: experimental setups, such as Ulrich Löffler’s piano recital featuring works by Alvin Lucier and Tobias Schwencke as well as new playing techniques used on traditional instruments. It’s exactly this close proximity to the instrument that's so illuminating for the audience, as the oncentrated observation also paves the way for a deeper understanding of the works.
So that’s what to expect during Monday Concerts — which, by the way, are free of charge as a token of thanks to the friends of Ensemble Musikfabrik — a most pleasant evening bringing together a concentrated and intimate musical experience with a personal, almost private, encounter.