Symphony X (Installation Version)

Ari Benjamin Meyers
April 19, 2012

Symphony X (Installation Version), 2012
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

 

Photo © Springdance/Anna van Kooij

Symphony X (Installation Version), 2012
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

 

Photo © Springdance/Anna van Kooij

Symphony X (Installation Version), 2012
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

 

Photo © Springdance/Anna van Kooij

Symphony X (Installation Version), 2012
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

 

Photo © Springdance/Anna van Kooij

Symphony X (Installation Version), 2012
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht

 

Photo © Springdance/Anna van Kooij

Symphony X (Installation Version)

Ari Benjamin Meyers
Springdance Festival, Stadsschouwburg Utrecht
April 19, 2012
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Lighting and set design by Tino Sehgal
Performed by Redux Orchestra

 

Symphony X is a love letter to neo minimal no-wave music, a style that came into being in New York City in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In this very physical work, compositional procedures influenced by composers such as Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham meet elements from post punk, minimalism and contemporary music. Musical situations at a steady 120bpm are exposed to a permanent web of construction and deconstruction, lead- ing the audience’s expectations astray. The German newspaper ‘Die Zeit’ called it “a completely new music that doesn’t even have a name yet.” The composer and musician JG Thirwell aka Foetus describes the work this way: “a vividly evolving, involving minimalist meditation that is propelled by a rock backbeat. It pummels thru a dizzy- ingly unrelenting series of progressions, existing somewhere at an intersection of Branca, Glass, and Love Of Life Orchestra.”

 

The work is in four connected parts. 16 musicians begin seated throughout the space with the conductor, Ari Benjamin Meyers, in the middle. The audience is free to roam amongst the musicians, experience the music from any perspective. Of course they are also free to sit, lie down, run around, or dance. The audience may get as close to individual musicians as they dare, creating moments of intimacy between musician and audience. When the music begins, the lights go out. slowly the musicians stand one by one as the lights come on. Almost unnoticeably they begin to switch positions, creating an entirely new acoustic landscape for Part II. some of the musicians and the conductor leave the space while others continue playing. Their chairs are removed. When they return for Part III they are standing and moving and walking around their positions. For the last part, all chairs and music stands have been removed; there is literally nothing on stage except for the musicians and audience themselves. At some point the musicians move to the floor and play on the ground, some sitting, some kneeling, some lying down. The conductor is no longer in the middle but at the outer edge. At the end, it is not clear if he is conducting the musi- cians or the audience, the division between the two groups having been blurred during the performance and now completely erased by the darkness in which the piece ends.

 

While symphonic music has changed drastically over the course of the last 250 years, the formats of its presentation, the concert, basically has not. Together with Ari Benjamin Meyers, Tino sehgal has created a spatial and temporal framework for the symphony, which is as ever-changing as the music itself and can be described as a ‘choreographed space’.

 

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