I just wanted to share a story (and my apologies to those reading this who have already seen me post about this on Facebook earlier today) - but today I was chatting outside the Conservatorium in The Hague (I am still here in Europe before I return to Australia at the end of this year's Kürten Courses) with two friends who were involved in Aus LICHT. We were commenting on how many people came to the performances, sometimes quite unsure of what to expect and some either totally unfamiliar with Stockhausen's music or even quite hostile towards it, and were totally won over by the experience there. Mostly they commented on the music - how powerful and beautiful it was, and how much it uplifted them. While we were having this discussion, a woman walked past who none of us knew. She worked near the Conservatorium. She had been to one of the Aus LICHT cycles and somehow recognised us, and so came over and told us, without knowing anything of the conversation we had just been having, about what an intense and amazing experience Aus LICHT had been for her. She said it overwhelmed her with its power, and when she returned to work the day after the performances she said she couldn't concentrate on anything,the music had made such a deep and wonderful impression on her.
I just wanted to relay this story because I hope, despite the different things (and some of them very important, too) that some people were not happy with in the production (including some things I was not happy with), that we are able to celebrate that the overwhelming experience for the people who were there discovering the music for the first time was huge. Their awareness of a magnitude, a scale, and hugeness of dimensions, in Stockhausen's music was palpable. It was awakened in them in a way that I think many had not experienced with any other music, ever. Whatever things we wish may have been done differently, I think one of the really important take-home messages from Aus LICHT is that we must continue to foster and nurture this music so that more and more people continue to experience it and to experience it being done in ways that continue to grow in quality and loyalty to the music's essence. And what an essence it is!
We must never underestimate the importance of stories like that of that woman - and she was one of many.
I do believe, very, very deeply, that the musicians and sound projectionists who spent so long - two years really - in learning and perfecting their artistry,really achieved somnething extraordinary over those couple of weeks in Amsterdam. It wasn't just that many of the parts were performed at a standard that was extremely high (which they were), nor just the spatialisation and projection of the sound utterly spellbinding (which it was), nor that the feeling of cosmic power and of spiritual intensity - even for those of us who are spiritually agnostic - was so strong (which it was). It was the sum of all of this multiplied because of this amazing magic seed that Stockhausen planted in the music when he composed it. We may find fault in how it was brought to life, and I in no way want to trivialise the issues that for some people have been very important, but rather just to remind us all how powerful the music itself is when it is performed by so many people who want to do it well, and who are themselves won over by it as they learn it and grow with it.
All of this was a remarkable achievement that we must, must see as something to continue to nurture and nourish into the future. Of course we must learn from things that could have been done better - but it seems to me (and I know I am still relatively new) that there has not ever before been a time, since Stockhausen was alive and composing LICHT, that there has been such a huge store of talented, enthusiastic, vibrant artists who have learned these parts and are so well-placed to continue to take them further. Under the guidance of the Stiftung, and with the support and cheering of all of us who are transported and transfixed, they can carry this music anywhere. And there will be people wandering the streets still wanting to talk about it, long, long, afterwards.
My very sincere hope is that we all do what we can to help this to happen - and especially to support the Stiftung whose whole reason for being is exactly that.
Sorry for such a long and ebullient post - but that anonymous woman in the street today really did make me think of what a remarkable opportunity is upon us.
Ian, thank you for sharing the story. Yes, the music has made a strong impression. After the projection of the second half of WELTRAUM, which ended late in the evening, the nice young lady -- she could not have been older than 25 -- who sat in the next seat turned to me and said that this music was, quote, “incredible”. Frankly, I was surprised that she was so taken by this slow, unusual electronic music (which is one of my great favorites, too). She also found that “the whole Stockhausen festival is a miracle”.
I agree about the young soloists in this cycle. It was great to experience that a new young generation of musicians is coming along who carry on the legacy of really great playing of Stockhausen’s music. Not just that, it seems obvious that these young performers thoroughly embrace and enjoy the theatrical aspects of performing the music, and welcome them as further opportunity to demonstrate their talents. Stockhausen was clearly a visionary when it comes to a combination of musical and theatrical performance of instrumental soloists, and its enthusiastic embrace by all those young performers indicates a bright future for the music.
Some examples where the young performers clearly enjoyed themselves to the point of plainly having fun: 1. Felicia van den End as Pied Piper in Children's Abduction. Fascinating (projected on the video screens) were her multiple mischievous eye movements from left to right or vice versa while keeping her head towards the audience. 2. The female flutist at the end of ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN was hilarious in the best sense, when she was jumping into the air in an effort to reach that last high note.
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!