Hyperion’s Explosive Compression, after Maderna

 HERMESensemble & Muta Imago

Director: Claudia Sorace

Jonathan Schatz (actor, dancer)

Valérie Vervoort / Hanne Roos (soprano)
                                           Karin De Fleyt (flute)

Juan Parra Cancino (electronics)

HYPERION is a production of HERMESensemble and Muta Imago in collaboration with Sagra Musicale Malatestiana, Fondazione Romaeuropa, Music Theatre Transparant and Orpheus Institute. 

The larger goal of this research project is to look at the performance practice of electroacoustic music through the mirror of traditional instrumental interpretation, and by a specialised performer rather than the composer himself. Specifically, to present a number of strategies to analyse, reconstruct, reinterpret and create electroacoustic music that is actively situated in a larger historical context and is either informed by or a rendering of pre-existing repertoire. In doing so, the positive aspects of the notions of “core repertoire”, so commonly used in traditional instrumental academic contexts, can be adapted and utilized by electronic music practitioners, in all three aspects of their practice: technical, compositional and performative.


In my collaboration with the Theatre company Muta Imago, these notions of interpretation are activated by the needs, constrains and challenges of producing a new version of Bruno Maderna’s Hyperion, focusing in the double dramaturgical and dramaturgic-musical roles of the solo instruments, and the use of recordings of the orchestral parts as a sound object both contributing to the musical structure as well as providing a dramaturgical character: an aural representation of a different temporal and spatial plane, one that both sustains and collides with the “live” performers.


My role is to “handle these two different sound materials, the recorded tapes, and the live voices of the flute and the soprano, and try to put these two worlds in constant communication: the relationship between them will reflect the path of the man Hyperion, represented by a performer on stage who will pass through a series of experiments based on the confrontation between his body and the space around him, between a man and his dreams, his present and his dreamt future”.


In the process of creating the electronic processing system, selecting the orchestral recordings and reconstructing the final timeline for the work, both the dramaturgical needs, the logistic constrains, as well as my own considerations when approaching interpretation in live electronic music where equal contributors in the decision making, reflecting in the process of doing the work a similar journey to the one travelled by Hyperion, confronting the limits of interpretation understood from the roles of the composer, instrument builder and performer in electronic music today.


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Between 1854 and 1874 Friedrich Nietzsche composed a substantial number of musical works, including fragmentary pieces for solo piano, several songs and even a sketched opera. His activity as a composer remains essentially unknown and his music pieces are rarely performed. Moreover, they are usually considered, in the best case, as juvenilia. Indeed, when Nietzsche decided to be first a philologist, then a philosopher, he stopped composing music. However, and beyond aesthetical judgments, his musical compositions disclose a character and a personality quite different from the far better-known Nietzsche-the-philosopher.

Nietzsche-the-composer understands himself as a “medium”, an agent dominated by transcendent powers of inspiration and creation submitting him to pre-existing values; whereas Nietzsche-the-philosopher was a destabilising constructor, the inventor of new images of thought, the active operator of a fundamental redefinition of values. For Nietzsche music had the problematic potential of carrying an “oppressive weight”—an expression he openly used to refer to one of his compositions, and, later on, to Wagner’s music in general.A weight he increasingly associated with the idea of “swimming”, to which he proactively opposed the notion of “dancing”.


In this performance, which took place on November 28 2015 in the Tanzquartier Wien, the Collective ME21 presented musical works by Nietzsche in dialogue with fragments of his texts, exposing some of the tensions between Nietzsche-the-composer and Nietzsche-the-philosopher.

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Nietzsche6+1: The Weight of Music  [Documentation]


Paulo de Assis: piano

Michael Schwab: lecture

Marlene Monteiro Freitas: dance

Valentin Gloor: voice

Lucia D'Errico: video projection

Juan Parra: sound projection and

live electronics.