As Artist-in-Residence 2013 at the Leuphana University Lüneburg I am starting the project City Sound Vision [decryption_commentary_transformation]. The project is concerned with qualities of visual sounds [the eye hears] and sound images [the ear imagines] – characteristic of Lüneburg – and their transformation into a “walk-in-concert”.
The moon tapes is a vocal radio poem by the author Stephan Krass and Ulrike Haage. A contemporary composition specially written for the SWR Vokalensemble and three spoken word actors.
The project preparations: amanuensis Brian L Flynn prepares the scores – apart from his new work as the gardener of my score archive.
…Of course we first have to restore the old moon tapes and scores…
…First serious colloquium in capsula between my amanuensis and me. Sound Engineer Philipp Fiedler on board now too: recording “sounds of the universe - handmade”.
…and when he is not recording, Philipp does drawings…We should publish the score with his watercolours.
Together with the drummer Eric Schaefer, Ulrike Haage is awarded a scholarship by the Goethe Institut for a three months stay at the Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto, Japan, in 2012.
Haiku_Prism: ”We plan to invent a “lost” story of the japanese instrument suiruon, [built by the calligrapher and potterer Takatsukasa Shinozaki ] in dialogue with a delicately prepared piano. This musical creation also contains field recordings of places from the travels of Haiku poets Basho and Santoka Taneda transferred into “today’s” Japan. Open work-in-progress concerts and lectures are part of the residency in Kyoto.” [synopsis]
“Three months in Kyoto ! You lucky you. Please yet not forget to greet my friends the deers in Nara’s park, and bring them their favorite cookies (preferably at dawn, before the tourists. Perhaps you’ve read my description of this moment in IMMEMORY). Joining a related picture. Happy Indian Summer, if there is. Chris (Chris Marker, end of 2011)
And I did it…
GENESIS OF THE DUO
Ulrike Haage, grand piano and electronics, and Eric Schaefer, suiruon , drums and percussion, have been creating music together since 2006. The collaboration began with the CD Weisses Land and refined with the release of infinitum (2011). The duo presents music resembling a scroll painting, intertwining the sounds from the carefully prepared piano, the drums, the Japanese percussion instruments suiruon and tatsune, two melodicas and delicately crafted electronics.
The music is a mixture of composed and improvised elements presented within a sonic environment of sweeping dynamics. Here a single note can flourish in its unadulterated form, immediate and sustained within the sonic space where it may travel unencumbered along the contours of the audiences’ imagination. Similar in style to Matsuo Basho’s travel diaries, alternating as they do between prose and poetry, the compositions do not shy away from gestures of emotion in their expressive liquidity. The music of Ulrike Haage and Eric Schaefer has a sensitivity both dynamic and rhythmically exciting, characteristic of their creative signature.
THE HAAGE | SCHAEFER DUO IN JAPAN 2012
It was the search for the fictitious origins of the Japanese percussion instrument the suiruon that the duo of Ulrike Haage and Eric Schaefer, who have long shared a close affection for Japanese art & culture, lived and travelled for three months (between September and December 2012) in Kyoto, Japan and surrounding areas including Osaka, Kobe, Nara, on the island of Shikoku, Hiroshima, Tokyo and Tatebayashi.
The Duo ventured to places that literally follow in the footsteps of Matsuo Basho and Santoka Taneda, repeating some of their legendary walking exercises in and around the Eiheiji Temple, Yamanaka Onsen valley, Natadera and along the Shikoku pilgrimage. These places have transformed aesthetically with the passing of time into the modern age but what still remains is the haiku, functioning as a place of remembrance, carved into the stone recordatio between imagination and reality, past and present, form and emotion. The two musicians transformed every stimulus into an element of their creative expression; what they heard around them they recorded, what they saw and learned they transformed into sound, what they thought they exchange between them, what effected them they noted on their laptops, wrote in their letters and kept in their diaries. Notes of thoughts to notes of sound. Music: the mirror to their experience.
The Kyoto sound diaries arise.
JAPAN AND THE FUTURE 2013 | 2014
During their stay in Japan Ulrike Haage and Eric Schaefer developed a score from their experiences starting with the compositions and preparations for grand piano, drums, suiruon and tatsune: reflection and inner echo of their encounters.
There have already been two preliminary live premieres of the sound diaries under the title FOR ALL MY WALKING during their residence. On the 8th of December 2012 at Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto and on the 12th at Club Nishi-no-Hora in Tatebayashi.
Since returning from Japan further work has been completed on the music.
Following a production for SWR in 2013 this composition cycle will be broadcast on the series Ars Acoustica in 2014.
The Japanese concert premiere of the Kyoto sound diaries as part of Nuit Blanche will be held on the 5th of October 2013 under the title FOR ALL MY WALKING in Kyoto and rounded off with a second premiere in Tokyo.
A CD is due for release at the beginning of 2014, and will also be published under the title FOR ALL MY WALKING.
JAPAN: A STILL OF SUBTLE ESSENCES
“Hear the sound, hear it fade. A bird sings – then silence. A teahouse – sitting on tatami mats, drinking a cup of tea. The blank sheet – a breath – a calligraphic gesture – the Chinese character. In the footprints of the haiku poet’s mountain hike verse and steps become rhythm and melody.”
If one were to enquire what “Japanese” qualities were present in our Kyoto work, then we could only reply: “It is not in the compositional material that we created nor is it in the notes we play, it is in the spaces between the sounds that the Japanese qualities may be found. This is our most precious and aesthetic experience. Music that resonates within us and extends and expands the inner consciousness. So that we may walk in a larger space within ourselves.” (Haage | Schaefer, 2013)
Starting the work on The Kyoto sound diaries for the SWR and their series Ars acoustica. Yamashita-san assisting us in translating the Japanese parts of our libretto into authentic hiragana and kanji writing. Here you can witness her thought processes in action.
The paintings and writings of Leonora Carrington inspired me to write a musical score for acoustic and electronic instruments [Cembalo, bassoon, melodeon and waldorf synthesizers], natural winds, spoken word artists, singer and hyena: Leonora Carrington’s favorite animal; according to her short story “The debutante”.
Alle Vögel fliegen hoch. Alle Schafe fliegen hoch.Alle Engel fliegen hoch. brings surreal language and imaginative speaker performances together with a modern music score. spoken pop songs…recorded in the finnish forests of Hailuoto, home of our main actress; singer and poem-producer Antye Greie.
Playing the melodeon in a dynamic duo with the wind, performing with the echo of the forest on ice-cold nights. Producing grooves by drumming chairs and logs, a canvas of soundscapes according to Leonora Carringtons paintings…Our sound-engineer Philipp Reitberger sits crossed-legged focusing on what he hears…
Pigeon fly! Sheep fly! angels fly!
is a production by the Bavarian Broadcast Hörspiel and Medienkunst, 2012.
“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse…. I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist.” “You’ve had your fun, now I’ll have mine.”(L.Carrington)
In her story “The Debutante” surrealist Leonora Carrington sent a hyena to a ball. The only daughter in an upper-class English industrialist family, Carrington grew up in a gilded cage, (“I saw my mother only once a day: when I was brought to tea by my nanny”) and her childhood and adolescence seemed much like a garden party with hyenas. She passed her time fighting off boredom with fables, ghost and horror stories, and the tales of Lewis Carroll. She already began painting and inventing while still a child. After being presented at court by her parents, Carrington decided
“you’ve had your fun, now I’ll have mine” and she started studying art in London. Her intensive, three-year relationship with Max Ernst, who was considerably older than she, brought her into contact with the surrealists in Paris of the 1930s. She was twenty-one at the time of the large surrealism exhibition there in 1938, at which she displayed a number of works. With the outbreak of the Second World War she was separated from Max Ernst, an experience that triggered a temporary anxiety psychosis, which she dealt with in her writing. She went to Mexico, where she continued to live—except for a few years in New York—until her death in 2011. Her paintings and sculptures often depict mystical motifs, animal-human and other mythical creatures, and sometimes angels. In addition to her large oeuvre of artwork, Leonora Carrington also left behind many short stories, novels, and plays.
Composer Ulrike Haage has created an audio piece meshing two of Carrington’s short stories, “The Neutral Man” and “How to Start a Pharmaceuticals Business,” with motifs from “The Debutante,” English counting rhymes, and nonsense poems by Edward Lear, a contemporary of Lewis Carroll. It is a soundtrack that acoustically brings Carrington’s world to life; a soundtrack in which harmonies and excessive atonality permeate each other naturally. Rhythmic recitative, gentle melodies, meandering chords, and electronic sound all transform the excessive short stories into extended songs, driving along the odd realities of a magical masquerade ball and a utopian picnic.
“What is fascinating about these stories are their invented dialogues and backdrops, which are imaginary and yet borrowed from reality and amplified to fantastic proportions. Like her paintings, the people in her stories have animal traits, the colors are distorted, and reality is enhanced through mystical elements. Only Anubeth’s werecubs can continue the documents, until the planet is again peopled with cats, werewolves, bees, and goats. The protagonists resound with surreal quirks like a bird’s laugh, they are all in white and start speaking in short sentences.” (Ulrike Haage)
The timeless fable Reineke Fuchs by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe re-imagined for children’s choir, ensemble (vibraphone, percussion, clarinet, piano & cello) and eight opera singers. Commissioned by the Opernwertstatt am Rhein.
About the music:
As a perpetually curious composer and musician I am excited by the children’s opera Reineke Fuchs, particularly in the concept of composing ‘grown-up’ music that children can also enjoy; engaging both in the individual songs and the miniature opera as a whole.
Throughout the performance allusions are made in the voices to traditional operatic techniques and yet the musical style is eclectic, drawing inspiration from my work in pop & jazz and from my experience as a theatrical composer and performer. I feel this results in engaging and exciting music which is also surprising and unpredictable.
The music’s rhythm, sound structure and resulting interactions between musicians and singers are characterized by a transparent and direct compositional style; each theme has its own “hit-quality” complete with an individual and distinctive atmosphere (“Verschwörerlied”, “Chor der Katzen”, “Barkarole der Gierigen”).
The music complements and defines the characters in the opera creating for them a coherent setting in which they can confidently express themselves both in their appearance and their actions (“Arie der Henne Kratzfuss”, “Streitduett Isegrim und Reineke”, “Kalas Hit”).
Menagerie of plush animals
The task of musical composition was in the capable hands of composer Ulrike Haage and the Goethe text was ably and sensitively edited by the librettist Sascha von Donat. The hand crafted forest sets the backdrop for the playful yet ernest staging by director Tracy E. Lord.
All above must have dug deep into their own childhood memories in preparing this rich production which opens to an exotic menagerie of plush animals who arrive gossiping, arguing and singing at the court of king nobel. The musical layers multiply as the characters draw us into the exciting story. The songs and choral pieces throughout exhibit a sing-song hit quality always complimented by great emotional depth. They shape the perception of the drama and give the overall structure strong purchase and momentum.
Ulrike Haage’s compositional style often affords the musicians opportunity to exhibit their unique potential and individual musicality. The musicians themselves, resplendent in rococo style dress, are placed on stage never failing to beguile the ear with a blend of symphonic and chamber music styles complimenting the action as it unfolds. Overall the music composition succeeds in leading the audience effortlessly through the myriad of emotions expressed in the narrative. A wonderful staging for children and adults alike!
Maria Herlo, Mannheimer Morgen 28.10.2011
Photos: (Premiere, Schloßtheater Schwetzingen)
The idea for Nunatak arose during several stays from 2006 on at the Fondation Hartung-Bergman in Antibes. It was here that Ulrike Haage first encountered the pictures and diary entries of the painter Anna-Eva Bergman.
“There was immediately an emotional connection. Anna-Eva Bergman’s pictures and way of working entered into a relationship with Ulrike Haage’s music and compositional approach. So Haage decided to lend a sound dimension to the painter’s themes, to the recurrent elements of her largely abstract world of images – to make audible the space behind the dark colours, circles and horizontal lines.
Nunatak is a dialog. More than just a homage to the work of Anna-Eva Bergman, it is the dialog between picture and composition, between painter and composer. A dialog which extends to the fundamental idea underlying every art form: the question of the spiritual moment, the “unnameable” that is intrinsic to every search for one’s own artistic vision of the world. Nunatak is a word from the language of the Inuit, “the first human beings”. It designates an isolated cliff or hill that rises above the surface of glaciers or ice-fields and yet remains free of ice. Surrounded by a frozen landscape of glaciers, such ice-free areas served as sanctuaries for many plants and animals during the Ice Ages.”
The Nunatak composition consists of three parts:
Part I is written for an ensemble of bows, vibraphone and percussion. The music interacts with the principal element of Bergman’s work – with the nature-inspired lines and abstract shapes, horizontals and silhouettes, and with the special light Bergman achieved with layers of superimposed metal foil.
Part II merges words and electronic grooves to form a literary-musical short feature. The music engages with textual passages from Bergman’s diaries and with quotes from Franz Werfel’s poems. Anna-Eva Bergman was fascinated by Werfel’s work, partly because it grappled with the question of the “invisible”, the “mystery”, man’s connection with the divine that allows the artwork to grow beyond the artist – if the artist is able to allow this to happen.
Part III is inspired by Bergman’s constant need to work abstractly and in an apparently unemotional way. This composition is in part for a grand piano prepared to elicit special sounds. Again reflecting the space that is at first invisible, the music acoustically enhances and deepens the contemplation of the pictures.
The premiere of Nunatak is scheduled for 2013.
The production is supported by the Fondation Hartung-Bergman.
The poetic documentary film Zwiebelfische links the fate of the New York artist Jimmy Ernst and his parents Max Ernst and Louise Straus on several narrative levels with the story of the print shop Augustin in Glueckstadt.
1935 – Jimmy’s parents had to flee to Paris – the Augustin family take in the 15 year-old as an apprentice typesetter. He learns how to set foreign languages such as Chinese or Arabic as well as Runic characters and cuneiform script. Inspired by his work he develops a fascination for symbols, that will influence his entire oeuvre.
With the help of the Augustin family Jimmy finally manages to escape to New York in 1938. His father later follows him to the United States, his mother is deported to Auschwitz where she is murdered.
While the camera sweeps over characters, mysterious symbols and foreign alphabets, the images are accompanied by text passages from Jimmy Ernst’s memoirs “A Not-So-Still Life”, read by Burghart Klaussner to the music of the sound artist Ulrike Haage. In its entirety this provides a fascinating insight which is crowned by pictures taken by the renowned photographer Candida Hoefer.
Zwiebelfische by Christian Bau and Arthur Dieckhof won the North German Film Award 2010 (Norddeutschen Filmpreis 2010) in the documentary category. Ulrike Haage was awarded the special prize for music.
everything but another kind | alles aber anders
The artist who did the most to humanize Minimalism without sentimentalizing it was Eva Hesse. Dying of brain cancer at thirty-four, an age at which most artist’s careers are barely under way, she left a truncated body of work but one of remarkable power: an instrument of feeling that spoke of an inner life, sometimes fraught with anxiety.
In 2009 the Bavarian Broadcast comissioned Ulrike Haage to create 12 music miniatures about Eva Hesse. Together with her assistant and engineer Philipp Reitberger and the actress Anna Lena Zühlke in the role of Eva Hesse they were looking for an interesting acoustic environment to record some of Eva Hesse’s diary entries, reflections about art, life and creating.
Eva Hesse’s images reflect on identity, sometimes with wry wit or an angry fatalism. She never wanted to see her work smugly categorized as ‘women’s art.’ Quite the contrary; Hesse wanted it to join the general discourse of modern images, unincumbered by niches of gender or race. ‘The best way to beat discrimination in art is by art,’ she brusquely replied to a list of questions a journalist sent her. ‘Excellence has no sex.’
The small publishing house Sans Soleil released a
limited and numbered edition of 300 copies, each copy handmade.
Special thanks to the Estate of Eva Hesse, Hauser & Wirth, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio and Barry Rosen.
Anthem is a Trilogy by video artist Beth Derbyshire and composer Ulrike Haage.
Produced by Beth Derbyshire, Cape Farewell, Eden Project and Eric Franck, London.
Anthem begins with Evocations, which is set in the rocks and tablelands of Newfoundland. Sequences of rocks merge to suggest a land, which is forming. With this in mind the libretto starts with sounds that are half words to suggest an evolving language. The sounds develop into spoken words that begin with the names for the old super continents so referencing ancient time.
Part two Nuna (Inuit dialect for earth) is set in the arctic. The film concentrates on the slipped ice from the North Pole, and is largely set upon the surface of the sea. The Arctic is in effect our last great wilderness fast becoming a wasteland. The libretto draws on the etymology of country names for its content. Set against the backdrop of a place that is for the large part without land, Nuna focuses on ideas connected to naming and land claims. The voice of a Mezzosoprano appears as a single line over a subtle electronic groove.
Part Three, Anthem is set in the UK and depicts the borders of Britain through an amalgamation of Anthems that represent the different constituent parts of Britain and images of unidentifiable landscapes of the British borders. The libretto is lifted from the national Anthems of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. However Anthem is not an advocacy of British nationalism but reconfigures the words to offer new meanings with a chorus that urges us to think again, do we need to rethink how nationality is defined and represented. The composition is written for a choir of nine voices.
Excerpts from the libretto:
Evocations Part I
Music: theremin | 3 voices | inside piano percussion | drums
1 – 3 Voices: improvising | spoken word
1 – 3 Voices: sung chord
1 – 3 Voices: improvising | spoken word
Anthem Part III
Music: nine voices | electronic landscape
Some have come
From a land beyond the wave
Sworn to be free (Irish)
Wild are the winds to meet you,
Kind as the love that shines (Scotland the brave)
How charming still seems
The music that flows in her streams (Welsh)
Here in the silence of the night…
In 2003 the WDR 3 commissioned Ulrike Haage to produce a feature on women and women-artists in Afghanistan. Ms. Haage entitled her feature “Ghosts of the civil dead“ after the 1988 John Hillcoat film of the same name to illustrate the terrible parallels between imprisoned individuals – removed from the view of society – and women in Afghanistan. During her intensive research Ms. Haage discovered some very exciting facts relating to oral tradition ‘the Pashto Landay’ and the author Spojmai Zariab who remains relatively unknown in Europe.
Due to this production and a moving live performance with singer Katharina Franck at the IFFF in Dortmund, 2003, the Goethe Institut Munich invited Ulrike to spent fourteen days in Kabul in the reopened Goethe-Institute/Kabul, where she directed a workshop culminating in a great concert in collaboration with native musicians. With a camera glued to one of her hands and a small recorder to the other Ms. Haage remembers her experience in Afghanistan as the most touching voyage she has ever undertaken.
“At the time I was in Kabul the first girls were permitted to attend school again. I watched them from the street corners. These were very special moments; to see girls go to their classes, radiating the beauty of curiosity & excitement at the prospect of learning.
A later composition from the WEISSES LAND CD entitled ‘FLYING KITES’ was conceived by me after I witnessed first-hand the sea of kites fashioned from many materials flying over the broken rooftops of Kabul.”