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Songs of Wars I Have Seen

Posted September 8th, 2018
DescriptionAbout the ArtistsInterviewFurther Reading

“The piece is uncannily moving, its emotional reach unexpectedly deep.” The Sunday Times (UK)

“When a tree is already being mentioned, you don’t also have to show it.” Heiner Goebbels in his “Aesthetic of Absence”

A work of theater as much as one of music, Songs of Wars I Have Seen juxtaposes modern and period instruments, electronic atmospherics, Baroque compositions, modernist harmonies, and the haunting text of Gertrude Stein’s World War II memoir to create a bittersweet lament on war’s insidious effects.

An American Jew living in the Nazi puppet state of Vichy France, Stein detailed everyday life in a neutral, descriptive style, pausing as much on the food she ate as the atrocities engulfing Europe. Her Wars I Have Seen tells us what is happening, without telling us how to feel about it. In Songs of Wars I Have Seen, iconoclastic German composer Heiner Goebbels emphasizes this meditative neutrality and sharpens our focus on the gendered experience of war.

Conducted by Estonian maestro Anu Tali, the staged concert sees performers from Philadelphia’s leading classical music groups — Philadelphia Orchestra and Baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare — speak Stein’s words and play Goebbels’s compositions. Bridging centuries of music, the melodies range from jazzy bursts to plaintive moans, incorporating melancholic and violent segments by the 17th-century English composer Matthew Locke. Musical styles change, war remains.

Friday, September 7: Post-Show Conversation with Heiner Goebbels and Thomas Patteson
Thomas Patteson is Professor of Music History Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He is a specialist in the music of the twentieth century, in particular the classical, experimental, and electronic traditions. He is the author of Instruments for New Music (University of California Press, 2016), a study of modernism and new sound technologies in Weimar Republic Germany.

$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
$2 FringeAccess memberComposer & Light Design Heiner Goebbels Text by Gertrude Stein Conductor Anu Tali Performed by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tempesta di Mare.

 

Philadelphia Orchestra
Jonathan Blumenfeld, Oboe
Paul Demers, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
David Bilger, Principal Trumpet
Nitzan Haroz, Principal Trombone
Julie Thayer, Horn
Angela Zator Nelson, Percussion/Associate Principal Timpani
William Wozniak, Percussion/Timpani
Elizabeth Hainen, Principal Harp
Davyd Booth, Keyboards

 

Tempesta di Mare
Rebecca Harris, Violin 1
Mandy Wolman, Violin 2
Daniela Giulia Pierson, Viola
Eve S Miller, Cello
Heather Miller Lardin, Bass
Eve Friedman, Flute
Anna Marsh, Bassoon
Paula Maust, Harpsichord
Reese Revack, Piano
Richard Stone, Lute

 

 

Songs of Wars I Have Seen has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Festival Co-Producer: Lee van de Velde


About Heiner Goebbels

Multi-instrumentalist Heiner Goebbels was studying sociology when he discovered the political importance of music through the work of Hanns Eisler. After this discovery, he began his career as a composer and director. His compositions have been performed by orchestras around the world. In 1993, he presented his first theater production, Ou bien le débarquement désastreux (“Or the Hapless Landing”), which was followed in 1994 by Surrogate Cities (Grammy nominated), Black on White (1996) and Eislermaterial (1998) with Ensemble Modern, Hashirigaki (based on texts by Gertrude Stein, 2002), Eraritjaritjaka (2004), I went the House but did not enter (2008) and Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury (NYC, 2015). From 2012 to 2014, he was the artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale Festival, a prestigious annual music and arts festival in northwestern Germany. In 2018 he received the first appointment for the recently established Georg-Büchner-Professorship at the University Gießen.

Heiner Goebbels presents theater where different languages coexist without hierarchy, extending and interacting with each other. The stage becomes a space of observation open to the surprising and the unexpected, where attention to detail creates a renewed curiosity for the complexity of human existence.

About Philadelphia Orchestra

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra is among a select group of  the oldest and most prestigious American symphony orchestras. Based at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, it performs over 130 concerts  each year. Renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of “firsts” in music-making, The Philadelphia Orchestra remains one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

About Tempesta di Mare

Conversational. Extroverted. Emotionally provocative. These words describe baroque music and the experience Tempesta di Mare delivers with every performance.

Baroque composers imbued their chamber and orchestral music with the powers of language, letting every listener experience as full a range of human emotion as from a play or poem. Tempesta crafts its performances to bring baroque music’s most speech-like and emotive qualities front and center. Whether as an orchestra or a chamber ensemble, its players transform the musical notes into dynamic, wordless dialogues in sound that win over audiences everywhere we play.

To experience Tempesta is to experience nonstop discovery of repertoire both in and outside the canon: groundbreaking, modern rediscoveries, essential music by forgotten composers, overlooked works by famous composers, and even famous works by famous composers revealed in new ways.


Interview with Heiner Goebbels

May 2018

FringeArts: How did you encounter Gertrude Stein’s writing?

Heiner Goebbels: The first experience I had with the meditative musicality of her prose was when Robert Wilson recited some paragraphs of her book The Making of Americans during the funeral service for German author Heiner Müller. It was a moving encounter with literature, which is so hard to describe: a novel, a poem, a litany, an incantation? And with other excerpts of this book I created my music theater work Hashirigaki in 2000.

FringeArts: What inspired you to adapt her memoir into Songs of Wars I Have Seen?

Heiner Goebbels: I got the idea to work with some of that text for my opera Landscape with distant relatives, which I created in the context of 9/11 — because of the difficulty and the inappropriateness of personal words when trying to talk about an experience of violence and disaster.

FringeArts: What kind of directions do you give to the musicians who speak the text?

Heiner Goebbels: Not much. I don’t want them to be too prepared, I don’t want the reader to be cleverer than the listener. But anyway, Stein’s Wars I Have Seen has this light everyday approach to speech, so it is better and more convincing if the reader has an untrained voice.

FringeArts: Why did you choose to incorporate Matthew Locke’s score for The Tempest?

Heiner Goebbels: Gertrude Stein has a cyclical concept of history. She says “history is repeating” and compares the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries with the violence in Shakespeare plays. So it was quite consequent to confront my music with music which was composed by Locke in the 17th century as a curtain tune for Shakespeare plays.

Excerpt. Full interview coming soon to the FringeArts Blog.


Further Reading

Heiner Goebbels Talks About “Songs of Wars I Have Seen” by Jeremy M. Barker, The SunBreak

Excerpt:
Goebbels says, “It’s like neighbors talking about everything, and she [Gertrude Stein] combines very personal comments on food, on her dog, on the weather, with very political statements on the Americans and the Italians and the French and the prisoners in Germany. And the nice thing is that when you read this book–and probably when you hear this composition–you have to decide yourself, what is your own focus, between this relationship of your personal point-of-view and the political and social point-of-view.”

Read the full article

Songs of Wars I Have Seen

Posted September 7th, 2018
DescriptionAbout the ArtistsInterviewFurther Reading

“The piece is uncannily moving, its emotional reach unexpectedly deep.” The Sunday Times (UK)

“When a tree is already being mentioned, you don’t also have to show it.” Heiner Goebbels in his “Aesthetic of Absence”

A work of theater as much as one of music, Songs of Wars I Have Seen juxtaposes modern and period instruments, electronic atmospherics, Baroque compositions, modernist harmonies, and the haunting text of Gertrude Stein’s World War II memoir to create a bittersweet lament on war’s insidious effects.

An American Jew living in the Nazi puppet state of Vichy France, Stein detailed everyday life in a neutral, descriptive style, pausing as much on the food she ate as the atrocities engulfing Europe. Her Wars I Have Seen tells us what is happening, without telling us how to feel about it. In Songs of Wars I Have Seen, iconoclastic German composer Heiner Goebbels emphasizes this meditative neutrality and sharpens our focus on the gendered experience of war.

Conducted by Estonian maestro Anu Tali, the staged concert sees performers from Philadelphia’s leading classical music groups — Philadelphia Orchestra and Baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare — speak Stein’s words and play Goebbels’s compositions. Bridging centuries of music, the melodies range from jazzy bursts to plaintive moans, incorporating melancholic and violent segments by the 17th-century English composer Matthew Locke. Musical styles change, war remains.

Friday, September 7: Post-Show Conversation with Heiner Goebbels and Thomas Patteson
Thomas Patteson is Professor of Music History Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He is a specialist in the music of the twentieth century, in particular the classical, experimental, and electronic traditions. He is the author of Instruments for New Music (University of California Press, 2016), a study of modernism and new sound technologies in Weimar Republic Germany.

$29 general / $20.30 member
$15 student + 25-and-under
$2 FringeAccess memberComposer & Light Design Heiner Goebbels Text by Gertrude Stein Conductor Anu Tali Performed by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tempesta di Mare.

 

Philadelphia Orchestra
Jonathan Blumenfeld, Oboe
Paul Demers, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
David Bilger, Principal Trumpet
Nitzan Haroz, Principal Trombone
Julie Thayer, Horn
Angela Zator Nelson, Percussion/Associate Principal Timpani
William Wozniak, Percussion/Timpani
Elizabeth Hainen, Principal Harp
Davyd Booth, Keyboards

 

Tempesta di Mare
Rebecca Harris, Violin 1
Mandy Wolman, Violin 2
Daniela Giulia Pierson, Viola
Eve S Miller, Cello
Heather Miller Lardin, Bass
Eve Friedman, Flute
Anna Marsh, Bassoon
Paula Maust, Harpsichord
Reese Revack, Piano
Richard Stone, Lute

 

Songs of Wars I Have Seen has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

 

 

Festival Co-Producer: Lee van de Velde


About Heiner Goebbels

Multi-instrumentalist Heiner Goebbels was studying sociology when he discovered the political importance of music through the work of Hanns Eisler. After this discovery, he began his career as a composer and director. His compositions have been performed by orchestras around the world. In 1993, he presented his first theater production, Ou bien le débarquement désastreux (“Or the Hapless Landing”), which was followed in 1994 by Surrogate Cities (Grammy nominated), Black on White (1996) and Eislermaterial (1998) with Ensemble Modern, Hashirigaki (based on texts by Gertrude Stein, 2002), Eraritjaritjaka (2004), I went the House but did not enter (2008) and Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury (NYC, 2015). From 2012 to 2014, he was the artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale Festival, a prestigious annual music and arts festival in northwestern Germany. In 2018 he received the first appointment for the recently established Georg-Büchner-Professorship at the University Gießen.

Heiner Goebbels presents theater where different languages coexist without hierarchy, extending and interacting with each other. The stage becomes a space of observation open to the surprising and the unexpected, where attention to detail creates a renewed curiosity for the complexity of human existence.

About Philadelphia Orchestra

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra is among a select group of  the oldest and most prestigious American symphony orchestras. Based at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, it performs over 130 concerts  each year. Renowned for its distinctive sound, desired for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of “firsts” in music-making, The Philadelphia Orchestra remains one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

About Tempesta di Mare

Conversational. Extroverted. Emotionally provocative. These words describe baroque music and the experience Tempesta di Mare delivers with every performance.

Baroque composers imbued their chamber and orchestral music with the powers of language, letting every listener experience as full a range of human emotion as from a play or poem. Tempesta crafts its performances to bring baroque music’s most speech-like and emotive qualities front and center. Whether as an orchestra or a chamber ensemble, its players transform the musical notes into dynamic, wordless dialogues in sound that win over audiences everywhere we play.

To experience Tempesta is to experience nonstop discovery of repertoire both in and outside the canon: groundbreaking, modern rediscoveries, essential music by forgotten composers, overlooked works by famous composers, and even famous works by famous composers revealed in new ways.


Interview with Heiner Goebbels

May 2018

FringeArts: How did you encounter Gertrude Stein’s writing?

Heiner Goebbels: The first experience I had with the meditative musicality of her prose was when Robert Wilson recited some paragraphs of her book The Making of Americans during the funeral service for German author Heiner Müller. It was a moving encounter with literature, which is so hard to describe: a novel, a poem, a litany, an incantation? And with other excerpts of this book I created my music theater work Hashirigaki in 2000.

FringeArts: What inspired you to adapt her memoir into Songs of Wars I Have Seen?

Heiner Goebbels: I got the idea to work with some of that text for my opera Landscape with distant relatives, which I created in the context of 9/11 — because of the difficulty and the inappropriateness of personal words when trying to talk about an experience of violence and disaster.

FringeArts: What kind of directions do you give to the musicians who speak the text?

Heiner Goebbels: Not much. I don’t want them to be too prepared, I don’t want the reader to be cleverer than the listener. But anyway, Stein’s Wars I Have Seen has this light everyday approach to speech, so it is better and more convincing if the reader has an untrained voice.

FringeArts: Why did you choose to incorporate Matthew Locke’s score for The Tempest?

Heiner Goebbels: Gertrude Stein has a cyclical concept of history. She says “history is repeating” and compares the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries with the violence in Shakespeare plays. So it was quite consequent to confront my music with music which was composed by Locke in the 17th century as a curtain tune for Shakespeare plays.

Excerpt. Full interview coming soon to the FringeArts Blog.


Further Reading

Heiner Goebbels Talks About “Songs of Wars I Have Seen” by Jeremy M. Barker, The SunBreak

Excerpt:
Goebbels says, “It’s like neighbors talking about everything, and she [Gertrude Stein] combines very personal comments on food, on her dog, on the weather, with very political statements on the Americans and the Italians and the French and the prisoners in Germany. And the nice thing is that when you read this book–and probably when you hear this composition–you have to decide yourself, what is your own focus, between this relationship of your personal point-of-view and the political and social point-of-view.”

Read the full article

International Fringe 2018: A Welcome to Artists from Around the World

Posted September 2nd, 2018

The United States government may be pursuing an isolationist policy but the Philadelphia Fringe is doing the opposite: opening its doors not only to the most creative American performers and performances but also to the best and most creative theater artists and their productions from around the world—overcoming the ancient fear of the symbolic Tower of Babel with people not understanding each other.

To show the worldwide scope of the 22nd Philadelphia Fringe Festival, we offer this spotlight on performers from abroad and productions by American artists that present a global perspective.

Theater writer Henrik Eger, editor of Drama Around the Globe and contributor to Phindie and Broad Street Review, among other publications, has lived in six countries on three continents and has visited Africa and Australia as well. He bids everyone a hearty WELCOME to the City of Brotherly Love—this year in 18 different languages: Arabic, Celtic, Chinese, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish.

We start this year’s overview with a special welcome to two programs featuring a wide range of global creators:

INTERNATIONAL CREATIVES

  1. le super grandBienvenue & welcome to Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard and Le Super Grand ContinentalLe Grand Continental wowed audiences during its run at the 2012 Fringe Festival and has garnered enthusiastic response across the world. Fully realizing a blissful marriage between the pure delight of line dancing and the fluidity and expressiveness of contemporary dance, the celebratory event enlists hundreds of local people to perform its synchronized choreography in large-scale public performances. The world’s most infectious performance event returns to the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in an even larger spectacle of dance.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bonvenon, willkommen, bienvenido, witamy, bienvenue & welcome to Do You Want A Cookie? from The Bearded Ladies Cabaret—a world premiere with an international cast. Do You Want A Cookie? serves up a delicious romp through cabaret history, with an international cast of artists performing a live revue of cabaret from the Chat Noir to Weimar nightlife to 21st-century drag. The all-star cast comes draws from around the world, including Bridge Markland (Berlin), Malgorzata Kasprzycka (Paris/Warsaw), Dieter Rita Scholl (Berlin), and Tareke Ortiz (Mexico City).

More info and tickets here

REFUGEES and EXILES

  1. ear whispered

    As Far As My Fingertips Take Me. Photo by

    وسهلا اهلا (ahlaan wasahlan) & bienvenu. Welcome to Tania El Khoury who lives in Lebanon and the UK with her multifaceted program ear-whispered. Little is known about Palestinian refugee camps and their communities. El Khoury presents her Fringe work in five parts through interactive performances and installations at Bryn Mawr College:

    1. Gardens Speak, an interactive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    2. Camp Pause, a video installation that tells the stories of four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.
    3. As Far As My Fingertips Take Me, an encounter through a gallery wall between a single audience member and a refugee. (Old City & Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.  
    4. Stories of Refuge, an immersive video installation that invites audiences to lay down on metal bunk beds and watch videos shot by Syrian asylum seekers in Munich, Germany. (Old City.) Read more.
    5. Tell Me What I Can Do, a newly commissioned work featuring letters that audiences have written in response to Gardens Speak. (Bryn Mawr College.) Read more.

More info and tickets here

  1. Bienvenido & welcome to the bilingual (Spanish & English) cast of La Fábrica performing Gustave Ott’s Passport. Lost in a foreign country, Eugenia is detained and thrown into a vicious maelstrom of miscommunication. This poetic and immersive Kafkaesque thriller delves into the question of immigration—exposing the mechanics of language and power. Some performances will be presented in English, some in Spanish, and some will be decided at the toss of a coin.

More info and tickets here

Read More

Happy Hour on the Fringe with Heiner Goebbels

Posted August 21st, 2018

FringeArts signature podcast returns with the first episode in a new series of enthralling Festival-related shows.

Frankfurt-based composer and director Heiner Goebbels has had his work produced around the world including his native Germany, Switzerland, England and New York. He taught for nearly 20 years at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen (1999–2018) and served as president of the Theatre Academy Hessen for twelve years (2006–2018). He was the artistic director of the International Festival of the Arts Ruhrtriennale for two years and and received the first appointment for the newly established Georg Büchner Professorship in 2018.

His works Stifters Dinge and Songs of Wars I Have Seen will be produced in Philadelphia in the 2018 Fringe Festival September 7 –9.

Listen now to the conversation between FringeArts president and producing director Nick Stuccio and world renown composer and director Heiner Goebbels covering Goebbels’ seminal works and long career.

Read More

The Inappropriateness of Words: An Interview with Heiner Goebbels

Posted August 6th, 2018

Heiner Goebbels is a prolific German artist, composer, and director who has created compositions and theater works for ensembles and orchestras around the world. His work often defies easy characterization, using unconventional musical composition and theatrical staging to push the boundaries of contemporary performance art.

This year’s Fringe Festival will feature two of Goebbels’s pieces: Stifters Dinge, a performative installation with no actors, only machines, sounds, and whispers, and Songs of Wars I Have Seen, a musical composition performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tempesta di Mare, interspersed with text from Gertrude Stein’s World War II memoir Wars I Have Seen, recited by the members of the orchestras. Stein’s text, which uses plain language to describe her own experience during the war, is juxtaposed with orchestrations that span centuries of musical styles, played on modern and period instruments. FringeArts asked Goebbels about the many sources of inspiration for the piece, as well as the relationship between the two works he is presenting in this year’s Festival.

FringeArts: How did you encounter Gertrude Stein’s writing?

Heiner Goebbels: The first experience I had with the meditative musicality of her prose was when Robert Wilson recited some paragraphs of her book The Making of Americans during the funeral service for German author Heiner Müller. It was a moving encounter with literature, which is so hard to describe: a novel, a poem, a litany, an incantation? And with other excerpts of this book I created my music theater work Hashirigaki in 2000.

FringeArts: What inspired you to adapt her memoir into Songs of Wars I Have Seen?

Heiner Goebbels: I got the idea to work with some of that text for my opera Landscape with distant relatives, which I created in the context of 9/11, because of the difficulty and the inappropriateness of personal words when trying to talk about an experience of violence and disaster.

Read More

Songs of Rivers Tempesta di Mare Has Seen

Posted May 16th, 2018

The 2018 Fringe Festival features Songs of Wars I have seen, an intriguing theater/music work by composer Heiner Goebbels inspired by a World War II memoir by Gertrude Stein. The composition will be performed (and spoken) by musicians from two local ensembles. But while the Philadelphia Orchestra will be familiar to most Festival-goers, baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare remains less known.

This weekend provides an opportunity to get to know the classical ensemble, as they present their Spring program in concerts at Penn’s Landing and in Chestnut Hill. The program, River Music: Bach & Telemann on Water’s Edge, includes pieces by J.S. Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann, Baroque heavyweights whose compositions figure prominently in Tempesta’s seasons.

“This music is powerful and evocative, and it tells fascinating stories,” says Rafael Schneider, who works for the orchestra. Telemann’s piece “Hamburger Ebbe und Flut” (Hamburg ebb and flow) premiered in 1723 at a large hall overlooking the Port of Hamburg, a location Schneider compares to the Independence Seaport Museum overlooking Penn’s Landing and the Delaware. The Seaport Museum will host Saturday night’s concert, an event which also serves as the centerpiece of Tempesta’s annual gala. This festive gathering includes boat rides along the Delaware, a cocktail hour with signature drinks, a meal, and a post-concert dessert reception with the artists.

Read More