Lamento di Medea
Monday 26 September at 8:00 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
LAMENTO DI MEDEA (2011, 70’) Italian premiere
musical theatre in concert form
music Wim Henderickx (1962)
libretto Peter Verhelst
soprano Selva Erdener
duduk Raphaela Danksagmuller, flute Karin De Fleyt, clarinet/bass clarinet Peter Merckx, viola Marc Tooten, electric guitar Matthias Koole, live electronics Jorrit Tamminga, percussions Gaetan La Mela, Wim Henderickx
conductor Wim Henderickx
Medea, Jason and the Argonauts: though their fates are inextricably bound to the legend of the Golden Fleece, it is the female figure, irascible and tragic, that stands out against the pallid male heroes to take on a life of her own, a source of artistic inspiration over the centuries. This time, addressing the myth and tragic fate of the sorceress Medea, is the music of Belgian composer Wim Henderickx, who has been working in musical theatre for many years, choosing multimedia as his preferred area of exploration in collaboration with a team of artists that include the Hermes ensemble and the actors from the Veenfabriek collective. After its debut last May at deSingel in Antwerp, a renowned space dedicated to experimental dance, music, theatre and architecture, Medea will enjoy its Italian premiere performance for the Biennale di Venezia in concert form with the title: Lamento di Medea. The text, a contemporary adaptation of the tragedy by Euripides, is by Belgian narrator and poet Peter Verhelst, who is of the same age and nationality as Wim Henderickx, a composer who often includes musical suggestions from the Orient in his works.
In this concert version, the Turkish soprano Selva Erdener – formerly a soloist for the State Opera of Ankara, where she trained with Roman Verlinsky and Lidia Pronina – takes on the task of performing all four of the laments that compose the work: Passion, Desperation, Decline, Pain. “This is not really a semantic text – writes Henderickx – but musical sounds without meaning. The music evokes an interior world of suffering, passion and pain. The singer is accompanied by a duduk, a traditional Armenian instrument similar to a flute, the sound of which is incredibly similar to the human voice. The musical material is composed of an ample melody, characterized by frequent quarter tones, and mostly elaborated in a heterophonic process (in which different variations of the melody are played simultaneously). The electronics create a sort of constant “buzz”, and provide a background of sound in the piece. The singer and the instruments are amplified to enrich the colour of their sound, adding an extra dimension to the work. The flute, viola and clarinet, typically western, are accompanied by two percussionists and an electric guitar, which are sometimes surprisingly close to the melodic and introspective nature of the music, and sometimes interrupt it” (W. Henderickx).
Wim Henderickx (Lier – Belgium, 1962) studied composition and percussions at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. He later participated in the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt and attended classes in sonology at the IRCAM in Paris and at the Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague. He teaches composition and musical analysis at the Conservatories in Antwerp and Amsterdam.
He writes chamber music, symphonic music and musical theatre. As composer-in-residence at the Muziektheater Transparant, he has written several pieces of musical theatre: Achilleus, A Total Entfühurng, Medea. Foreign cultures are often a source of inspiration for Henderickx, whose works include three Ragas, Confrontations for western and African percussions; after a trip to India and Nepal, he began to work on Tantric Cycle, a series of compositions inspired by the Orient. The Seven Chakras for string quartet, Void/Sunyata a piece of musical theatre, Disappearing in Light for mezzo-soprano, contralto flute, viola and percussions, Tejas for orchestra and Mudra for ensemble are part of this cycle. In February 2011, Groove! For percussions and orchestra were performed for the first time by the Brussels Philharmonic. He is currently composing a symphonic work for the National Belgian Orchestra that will see the light in March 2012.