The 60th International Festival of Contemporary Music came to an end
10 | 16 | 2016
Chamber music, great ensembles, jam sessions, live-sets, video and film in concert, in a vision of the contemporary that in the name of experimentation embraces electronics, jazz, folk, cultured and popular music all together: this is music in its many possible forms, a far-reaching sound spectrum in time and space that the International Festival of Contemporary Music, directed by Ivan Fedele and now in its sixtieth edition, presented from 7 to 16 October.
The 26 events of the Festival featured 45 world premieres, 27 Italian premieres and 24 commissions, including those in particular to Kaija Saariaho, Pascal Dusapin, and the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, Salvatore Sciarrino. For the first time, the Biennale has also commissioned live-sets: Venetian artist Giacomo Mazzucato, alias Yakamoto Kotzuga, and the duo M+A, alias Michele Ducci and Alessandro Degli Angioli, exponents of the latest electronic music and internationally renowned. The digital music scene was also represented by the Italian debut concert of Japanese artist Ryo Murakami, who belongs to its most radical and innovative fringes, and was awarded the Silver Lion for new musical talents. Finally the KL4NG ensemble, the more adventurous and audacious extension of Accroche Note, reinterpreted avant-garde music with the help of a live-set, creating new textures that weave voice, instruments and new technology.
There is a significant concentration of Italians, represented by artists from various generations: from Giacomo Manzoni, Azio Corghi and Sylvano Bussotti, to Claudio Ambrosini, Luca Mosca, Michele dall'Ongaro, Stefano Gervasoni, and including Mauro Lanza, Vittorio Montalti, Gabriele Cosmi, to name just a few. The "Made in Italy" contingent also includes dedicated performers in dynamic ensembles such as Sentieri Selvaggi and Fontanamix, and in the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto.
There will be an ample survey of American music, especially the music of recent years, with authors whose work tends to intersect the other arts, from cinema to dance, and is open to the influences of every genre: from the post-minimalism of David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Jóhann Jóhannsson, to the “indie classical” of Tyondai Braxton, Nico Muhly, Judd Greenstein and many more, all of whom share a “post-genre” sensibility that has led to talk of a new New York School. Standard-bearers for American music are the sophisticated Bang On A Can All-Stars, a classical ensemble as well as a rock and jazz band, and one of our most important pianists, who performs widely in the United States, Emanuele Arciuli.
The concerts of the Ensemble Modern, Accroche Note and the Ensemble U:, which comes to Italy for the first time, will respectively feature pages from the musical literature of Germany – Enno Poppe, Jörg Widmann, Arnulf Hermman, France - François-Bernard Mâche, Philippe Schoeller, Yann Robin – and the less-familiar East European area, and particularly Estonia - Helena Tulve, Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes, Märt-Matis Lill, Jüri Reinvere.
Explorations of the connections between images and music find space in many concerts. The concert by the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain dedicated to Gérard Grisey, a seminal figure in late twentieth-century European music, is a portrait counterpointed by the images that Australian artist Andrew Quinn creates in real time, “activated” by the sound parameters of the compositions themselves. In the concert by Bang On A Can All-Stars, some of the pieces were conceived with and for experimental short films, often made by the composers themselves, such as Christian Marclay, who works on the connections between sound, noise, photography, video and film, and won a Golden Lion at the 2011 Biennale for The Clock, in which he sampled a countless number of cinema photograms to build an epic 24-hour film. The union of music and art film becomes complete in the concert by the Percussions de Strasbourg, in which two masterpieces of American and European experimental cinema from the 1920s, A Hollywood Extra by Robert Florey and Entr’Acte by René Clair, are commented in music by thirty-five year old Spanish composer Javier Elipe Jimeno.
Other concerts addressed the relationship with tradition, in a series of highly original operations. The Argentine cellist Fernando Caida Greco presents the late Baroque literature of Joseph Marie Clément dall’Abaco as a “new point of departure for the future”: in a long-distance dialogue he interposed between the 11 Capricci by Dall’Abaco a prologue, an epilogue and 10 intermezzos commissioned to six Italian composers (Sonia Bo, Umberto Pedraglio, Alessandra Ravera, Paolo Rosato, Alessandra Bellino, Andrea Manzoli). The concert by the Divertimento Ensemble focuses on the complex relationship of three Iranian composers who studied in Europe – Alireza Farhang, Karen Keyhani, Mehdi Khayami – with their tradition and their musical culture. The musicians of Tempo Reale – Francesco Canavese, Francesco Casciaro, Francesco Giomi and Damiano Meacci) address a more recent past, driven by an “ecological” philosophy: they counter the speed of technological consumerism and the rapid obsolescence of digital devices with the retrieval of the “devices” – from turntables to blenders, for example – abandoned at the margins of this acceleration, to create their own sound theatre, a Symphony Device. The jazz band Locomotive, led by saxophonist Raffaele Casarano, with special guest Paolo Fresu, was asked by Ivan Fedele to reinterpret historical material – the traditional Venetian boat songs known as “canti da battello” which were popular throughout Europe in the eighteenth century – as jazz.
In the area of musical theatre, a crucial theme in contemporary music, the Festival presented four short one-act pieces - Funeral Play by Caterina Di Cecca, Il flauto tragico by Roberto Vetrano, Troposfera by Francesco Ciurlo and Trascrizione di un errore by Alexander Chernyshkov – created within the innovative experience of the Biennale College, which seeks to promote young talents by offering them the opportunity to work closely side by side with the great masters for the development of creations. Selected through an international call, the composers of the one-act pieces, all in their early thirties, with their team of librettist, director and set designer, have been working since March in the various tutoring and production sessions that will lead to the production of their projects. They are being followed in the various phases of their work by Salvatore Sciarrino and Luca Mosca for the music, by Nicholas Hunt and Franco Ripa di Meana for the direction, and by Sergio Casesi and Giuliano Corti for the dramaturgy.
The many excellent ensembles participating in the Festival also included: the Ensemble Geometrie Variabili, founded within the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai and Quatuor Diotima, which will inaugurate the Festival; Repertorio Zero, a classical quartet that will engage in electric sound, accompanied for the occasion by the champion of flute Flavio Caroli; and the eclectic London Sinfonietta, conducted by Marco Angius, one of the most prestigious and more popular ensembles in Europe.
The collaborations of the 60th International Contemporary Music Festival included the project with Tempo Reale, one of the most important centres for computer music, founded by Luciano Berio, a breeding ground for experimentation and meeting ground for composers.