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During the Guggenheim Fellowship period, I wrote a large-scale musical composition based on Baruch Spinoza’s philosophical work Ethics. Exploring concepts of “space and place,” the composition deals with questions of one’s place in the global world and how music informs and influences our perception of our place in this world. Looking at musical creation as an analogy to the movement of the immigrant, who discovers, remembers, forgets and rediscovers places on his voyage, the composition will investigate relationships to space: historical space, space of immigration and disembodied space.
The first part of the cycle, Nulla Res Singularis was commissioned by the Klangforum Heidelberg and written for the Schola Heidelberg and the Ensemble Aisthesis with support from the Canada Council for the Arts. The piece was premiered on October 29, 2017 as part of the project Diktaturen. This piece was also presented at a portrait concert at the Americas Society in New York on May 4, 2018, and also performed in Victoria and Vancouver as part of the Canadian tour of the Klangforum Heidelberg in the same year. The second part of the cycle was commissioned by the Swiss Philosophical Association for their annual conference in Basel in Sept. 2018. Here the audience, gathered in the large hall of the Musikakademie in Basel, consisted mainly of the 250 philosophers attending the conference. After the performance, a discussion with the conference participants about the piece and its relationship to philosophy and physics, proved to be very stimulating.
Several other parts of the cycle were composed in this period. This includes Fragmina ex Axiomata for countertenor, shawm, accordion and electronics, premiered by Kai Wessel, Ensemble Mixtura, Dániel Péter Biró and Arsalan Abedian, electronics at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany on Nov. 19, 2018. This was commissioned by the Hannoversche Gesellschaft für Neue Musik with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts. In addition, the composition De Natura et Origine, was commissioned by the Ultima Festival Berlin for alto, shawm, accordion and premiered by Hildegard Rützel and the Ensemble Mixtura on January 17, 2019 at Heimathafen, Berlin, Germany. This was broadcast on Radio-Brandenburg-Berlin.
The last parts of the cycle were performed at the K and M Festival. During this time period, the next parts of the cycle were performed at the K and M Fest in Stavanger and at the Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway. These commissioned works, as part of the Ethica ¬composition cycle, were funded by Arts Council Norway. In 2020, I plan to record the entire cycle with the Klangforum Heidelberg. Funding for the recording has been received by the Norwegian Composers Society, KMD the University of Bergen and the Barr Ferree Fund of Princeton University.
During the period of the fellowship, I was also able to publish recordings, books and articles. This included the book Live-Electronics at Work: The EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO des SWR, edited by Dániel Péter Biró, Jonathan Goldman, Detlef Heusinger and Constaze Stratz (Hoffheim: Wolke, 2019), the articles “Composing Gvul,” in Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia in the European Union and Canada (Victoria: University of Victoria Publications, 2019), 70-74. “Über das Unterrichten der Komposition,” in Musik und Ästhetik, Heft 84, Oktober 2017, 21. Jahrgang, 81-83, the book chapter “Ghost Instruments: The Creation of Negative Space with Live Electronics in the Mishaptim (Laws) Composition Cycle” in Live-Electronics at Work: The EXPERIMENTALSTUDIO des SWR, edited by Dániel Péter Biró, Jonathan Goldman, Detlef Heusinger and Constaze Stratz (Hoffheim, Wolke: 2018), 301-319 and the multichannel CD Mishpatim (Laws). Composition Cycle Noa Frenkel, Ermis Theodorakis, Ensemble Surplus. Experimentalstudio (Munich: Neos 11919–20, October 2019).