20 Years Freunde Guter Musik Berlin

26.09. – 04.10.2003
St. Elisabeth-Kirche, Villa Elisabeth

1983 – 2003  Adventures in Hearing
Concerts / Performances / Events / Sound Art / Lectures / Parties

The activities of Freunde Guter Musik are a Berlin tradition. Since 1983, the non-profit association “Friends of Good Music” has been dedicated to presenting and promoting new music and music in new forms. Freunde has invited artists from Berlin, from Germany, and from all over the world to show their work in venues throughout the city, giving many their first opportunity to be seen and heard in Berlin. Most of the artists elude classification in traditional musical categories – they operate at the experimental edges of their genres and in the zone where music and the visual and performing arts converge. Freunde’s sphere of activities encompasses composer-performances, minimal music and its offshoots, high-level improvisation, music with ethnic and folk roots, music played on invented, rediscovered or mutated instruments, and live electronic music, as well as “sound art” – acoustic installations, environments, sound sculptures, musical media art, and projects by visual artists.

This special 20th anniversary program gathers a total of 16 projects, by international artists, that exemplify the work of Freunde Guter Musik Berlin. Along with projects by artists who have been closely associated with the organization for many years, there are appearances by artists who have long been on Freunde’s “wish list”. Six events, designated by keywords that outline the spectrum of the association’s activities, comprise the special program:

MAXIMAL MINIMAL is an apt description for the legendary appearances of Glenn Branca and his ensemble in Berlin. These performances mark both the debut of Freunde Guter Musik Berlin as well as significant milestones in its history: the program for the first concert Freunde presented in 1983 was Branca’s “Symphony No. 4”. Other works by Branca were performed for the 5th anniversary (“Symphony No. 6”), and the 10th (the premiere of the commissioned work “Symphony No. 9”); the 15th year event featured the first European performance of his composition “Movement Within”. Now, Glenn Branca presents the premiere performance of “Symphony No. 14”, a work Freunde has commissioned for its 20th anniversary program.

With the keyword NET MUSIC, Freunde turns to an area of musical production that is still in the developmental stages. By extending an invitation to zeitblom, the musician and composer, to develop a musical project on the Internet, Freunde has initiated a new mode of presentation for its activities. In the future, other artists will also be invited to develop musical Net projects at Freunde’s Internet address.  At the same time, Freunde will augment its Net presence with a new databank that documents previous events and gives information about current activities. The anniversary program looks ahead as zeitblom gives a presentation of his musical Net project “biomorph source music III/audiotracts” and also a concert performance in which he applies his idea of biomorphic composition to another area, film music.

Events where the voice takes center stage have always been an integral part of Freunde’s programming. Over the years, these have documented the entire range of contemporary vocal music, with a special accent on “voice work”. The “Urban + Aboriginal” festival, which Freunde has presented on a regular basis since 1985, also pays special attention to vocal art: “V.OKAL” in 1989 was dedicated entirely to the voice. The confrontation between tradition and modernity in European and non- European countries has become an increasingly dominant idea behind recent editions of the festival, and unusual traditional vocal musicians from regions far and near were often introduced to Berlin. Those chosen to represent the CANTI theme come from Italy: first there is the rare opportunity to experience one of the outstanding voices of the avant-garde when 80-year-old Michiko Hirayama, from Rome, performs. And then, one of the highlights of earlier “Urban + Aboriginal” programs, the fascinating four-part men’s choir from Sardinia, Tenores di Bitti, makes a return appearance.

FEMMES ELECTRONIQUES – The memory of the afternoon in the Volksbühne’s green salon in November, 1997, when the entire “Adnos” cycle by Eliane Radigue received its first, four-hour-long performance, retains special significance for many at Freunde. The current performance of Radigue’s new work “L‘Ile Re-Sonante” is only her second appearance in Berlin. The Parisian minimalist is one of the women who pioneered electronic music. Another such pioneer is Maryanne Amacher, the composer, performer, and sound installation artist from the USA. She has not performed in Berlin since 1986, when she lived in the city on a grant from the DAAD. Both Radigue and Amacher work with psychological and physiological experiences at the limits of hearing. Theirs are two different positions that mark the start of the long development of electronic music, an evolution that Freunde has been attentively following all along.

The presentation of outstanding musicians both as soloists and in changing formations is another of Freunde’s traditions, and to illustrate this, BANDS ‘N’ BOYS introduces three bands. Among the special events of the ’80s were appearances by composer/performer Ned Rothenberg with Samm Bennett in their trio Semantics, which in those days included Elliott Sharp. Now, for the first time in Berlin, the two present their new band R.U.B. with the Japanese guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa. And zeitblom, already linked with Freunde via his Net project, grabs his bass guitar in order to launch “The No Ensemble” with Alex Hacke and Rudi Moser, who have done more than just play with Einstürzende Neubauten. The swing trio “Hudson Riv” featuring Sven-Åke Johansson – without whom the history of Freunde would be much the poorer – rounds out the evening.

To wind up the 20th anniversary program, two internationally known visual artists – Martin Creed and Rodney Graham – will present their band projects under the rubric BANDS ‘N’ ARTS. A thematic focus on the interface between music and visual art has guided the activities of Freunde Guter Musik Berlin since its inception, and the performance series “Works of Music by Visual Artists” has consistently monitored developments in this area since 1999. One of the premiere performances in that series was the musical project “Parsifal” by Rodney Graham. This time, Freunde invites Graham and, for the first time, his band, to give one of his rare live performances as a singer-songwriter. Martin Creed also appears as a singer and guitarist, with his new band project and a program of new songs, for the first time in Berlin.

RECORD PLAYERS – Pioneers of turntable playing such as Christian Marclay have appeared regularly with Freunde over the years. Freunde has asked several exponents of this genre to help celebrate its 20th anniversary, and has set up a lounge where a record player explores the theme of the evening program, concluding the events with an invitation to listen and to dance.

Freunde has been able to enlist the St. Elisabeth Church and Villa Elisabeth, its former parish house, in Invalidenstrasse as both the sites for the performances and as a cooperating partner. The splendid architecture of the church (a hall building with porticus designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the “antique style”; it was consecrated in 1835, gutted by fire in 1945, and rebuilt only in 1999) provides the setting for three events in the series.  All other concerts, as well as the lounge, take place in the no less impressive main hall and foyer of Villa Elisabeth.

Artistic direction / Board of directors: Ingrid Buschmann, Matthias Osterwold, Vilém Wagner

Program team, Active members: Ursula Block, Gerd de Vries, Werner Durand, Golo Föllmer, Julia Gerlach, Gabriele Knapstein, Rüdiger Lange, Dieter Scheyhing, Volker Straebel

In collaboration with Kulturbüro SOPHIEN, Hebbel am Ufer and the Elektronisches Studio der TU Berlin. Made possible by funding from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds. With the kind support of the Canadian Embassy, Berlin, Mediapool Veranstaltungsservice, Bechstein AG and RADIOmultikulti.

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