Scene for voice and ensemble
Hannah Arendt, Inge Müller, Ludwig Rellstab and German Folksongs (G)
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Konzertsaal, Stuttgart
Salome Kammer, voice / Sebastian Manz, bass clarinet / Akiko Okabe, piano
This piece is intended as a scholarly artistic examination of the "intellectual climate" in Germany during the lifetime of Inge Müller (1925–1966), with a focus on the Nazi era and Müller’s reception in the 1960s, above all by Hannah Arendt. At the same time, this composition is also to be understood as a kind of "homage" to Inge Müller, whose poems have been taken up into this work in their entirety.
Decisive was the thought that I had to abandon art song – that is to say, the entity of text and music, as it is constitutive for art song – and to work with different texts and different genres of text (including some so-called folk-song texts). This gave me the possibility to think more theatrical and to establish narrative connections between the different texts, the music, and the "scene": sometimes the music comments on the text, sometimes it contradicts the text or challenges it or vice versa. Moreover, I decided to have most of the texts spoken, that is to say, almost only vocalises are sung, with the sung parts being fashioned like a commentary.
In my composition, the voice – in that it is assigned to a "figure" – has, in contrast to art song, a gender. With this I do not mean the register. I mean the body. My composition is explicitly written for a female performer/singer, and the musician accompanying her should ideally be a male musician. My performer/singer must therefore be trained in theatrical body work and have learned to deal with text on the stage, to "assimilate" text – must also have the ability to "em-body" texts that actually come from a completely different context (as, for example, from the political essays of Hannah Arendt).
Iris ter Schiphorst