Autumn 2020

2020 – THE YEAR OF CARBOHYDRATES  Truth be told, lockdown homeschooling has yielded rather unexpected results: Tiny E has learnt words he shouldn’t know! Eavesdropping on his sister’s school topic, “food ” led to a sudden upsurge in vocabulary which generated unprecedented fusions in the brain, combining specific words with notions of superheroism and recent experiments in climbing the walls. All this led to the incredible discovery of a new type of energy booster contained in a single word: Carbohydrates! Shout it out and its mere utterance will produce energizing properties, observed in humans until now only through ingestion of the actual biomolecules. This purely vocal experience could potentially replace starchy pick-me-ups as a slimming approach!  Car-bo-hy-drates! The word of the moment! Savour its vowels, accelerate its syllables, add a hiss at the end and you will notice spit-flying supercalifragilistic results as its sound injects pizzazz into your Covid-deflated soul!***  Caar-booo-hy-dratessss! an exclamation like no other. At last, 2020 atones! Let the consonants crash off your tongue like a powerball giving impetus to, once again, make ears and eyes travel the world! ***disclaimer – Don’t try this outside home unless you follow local face-covering guidance!Zu Risiken und Nebenwirkungen lesen Sie die Packungsbeilage oder fragen Sie ihren Arzt oder Apotheker.

FOLLOW A RIVER: Tomorrow (Saturday 5th September), come along for a promenade along the river as Fleet Footing takes part in this year’s Totally Thames Festival. Simply reserve your place by downloading the audio material and map here. Apart from your own set of headphones, a small empty bottle, some refreshments and a little joie de vivre, you will need a face covering for this socially distanced version of the group walk. You can of course also go off on your own adventure without us, anytime you like. Since Fleet Footing launched at TAT18, many of you have enjoyed this audio treasure hunt. By now, both Sarah and I have walked with the Fleet dozens of times – yet it is still thrilling to embark afresh, not least to shake out my quarantine legs. For the guided experience of this leisurely 10k Hampstead-Blackfriars, we will start promptly at the Vale of Health Pond on Hampstead Heath this Saturday 5th September (and again Sunday 27th) at 11.00. Looking forward to seeing some of you there! Reservation is recommended as places are limited.   

TRANSPORT INTO THE FUTURE:It is just brilliant to be back at Tête-à-Tête THE opera festival, which, undeterred and more determined than ever, continues to push the medium of opera into novel territory.  For The Manna Threshold, I collaborated with director Roswitha Gerlitz, dance theatre director Yolande Snaith and law philosopher and artist Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. I warmly invite you to watch the interactive broadcast of the premiere online on Saturday 12th September at 19.15 BST. A streaming of our 20-minute film will be followed by a live Q&A with the creative team, in keeping with the spirit of the piece, for which Roswitha and I will appear in character.  The work itself is set in 2270, in the post anthropocentric era, where time is abolished and immortality for all humanity is enforced by law. It will cost you £1 to see what this is like and that is a pound you will not see again. However, you might have glimpsed the future. After the initial broadcast, this avant-opera will remain available to watch for 28 days!  Concept/Dialogue/Production: Roswitha Gerlitz / Music: Catherine Kontz / Concept/Legal Text: Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos / Research Collaborator: Yolande Snaith / Soprano: Sarah Parkin / Performer: Roswitha Gerlitz / Voice 2: Catherine Kontz / Video Editing: Helena Traill / Audio mixing: Henri Växby 

VISIT GALICIA:Three of my scores will be displayed as part of a new inspiring exhibitionMIRAR O SON. Notación gráfica na música contemporánea in Santiago de CompostelaKartenspiel, Snakes & Ladders and Three Legs and a Wheel (co-composed with my daughter Emmylou Växby). Ensemble Vertixe Sonora will also interpret the latter for the opening concert on 16th September. The exhibition at the Auditorio de Galicia runs from 16th September to 15th November 2020 10.00-1400 and 16.00-19.00 every day and entry is free.   TRAVEL TOWARDS NEW SHORES: On 18th September, the Philharmonie Luxembourg opens its stage to the Solistes Européens Luxembourg and a few hundred lucky punters, cautiously spaced out around the hall, will enjoy the thrill of live music again! First up, my new 10-minute orchestral workThe Waves, a commission from the orchestra with the support of the Ministry of Culture.  Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s homonymous novel, I dived in and out of various waves of feminism, and constructed the music from certain recurrent tropes, energies and ideas in feminist resistance which resurfaced in different forms throughout the last century. The Waves is a work with an agenda beyond its music: it keeps a finger on the pulse of gender equality, even within the orchestra itself.  Should you miss the première performance, you will be able to hear a recording of it on the Naxos label in the not too distant future. I for one can’t wait to experience the sound of an orchestra, alive again “like the thud of a great beast stamping.” (V. Woolf, “The Waves”)  FLY INTO OUTER SPACE:Ever wondered what women astronauts wear? Or why PPE is ill-fitted for women? If not on Earth, how can we achieve gender parity in space? I’m participating in a webinar series organized by the Hamlyn Centre/Imperial College LondonFrom PPE to Spacesuit – On adaptive clothing – design for women, with a new performance art piece. This will happen at some point on 10th October 2020 – exact times dependent on astronauts’ schedules.   

LAND ON A SOFA: You don’t need to travel far to find the way to your own sofa! Here is another festival that has not backed down. Instead of the usual Brighton haunt near the sea, we were invited to perform from the edge of our couch this year. So here isFrench For Cartridge feat. the Little Es at THE EDGE OF THE  ̶S̶E̶A̶ ̶ SOFA with End of the World! You’re welcome.   

FLOAT INSIDE A POD:It started as an audio chain – from writer, to actor, to musician – and now lives as a podcast! Back in June, I participated in the first edition of Triptyphon, a series of podcasts curated by writer/actor Larisa Faber. Together with Nathalie Ronvaux (text), Aude-Laurence Biwer (voice) we created a sound poem. For the music, I used only my handsHere it is, available on the new cultural channel KuK:   

EXPLORE MY MIND: A few months ago, I was amongst four composers invited for an interview series curated and produced by ensemble United Instruments of Lucilin in collaboration with CNA. If you ever wanted to know more about the whys and the hows of my composing, this will give you an insight. Watch it on Facebook or YouTube.   ALONE WITH ERIIKKA, VIRTUALLY: Back in June, violinist extraordinaire Eriikka Maalismaa went ahead with an unusual concept for a special Avanti! summer concert in Porvoo/Finland: the audience (only one or two people at a time) would choose which of three pieces they wanted to hear! Prick up your ears as she performs Kartenspiel, virtually and at the click of this button.

WALK AMONGST BRIDGES: One for your diaries! Commissioned by Philharmonie Luxembourg for Rainy Days 2020, I have created a new adventure-piece to be performed live from over and under various bridges by about a hundred young musicians from Luxembourg’s music schools (UGDA). Driwwer Drënner Drop – a sound promenade through Luxembourg-City’s historical quarters will be a happening you don’t want to miss! Starting down by the Clausener Breck, you should count a good hour for this walking concert. Bring an open mind, curious ears and perhaps a raincoat. It’s a free event so just turn up with the whole family! There are two opportunities to experience itSaturday, 21st November at 11.00 and at 14.00. Mark it in your calendars now! I really can’t wait!   

OFF TO THE ABBEY: A follow-up residency to continue devising and rehearsing Larisa Faber’s new work stark bollock naked at Neimënster will culminate with a work-in-progress sharing on 3rd December. For the first part last year in London, the music was entirely performed using gynaecological instruments live onstage. Dare to come and you will see how we proceed from there for the second part of the show. The sharing will be followed by CID Fraen an Gender’s Feminist Tea for Free over which we will discuss female representation in art. The premiere of this radical new piece of theatre about women and eggs is planned for 2021 at Neimënster – with further hatchings abroad later. In English. With Larisa Faber and Catherine Kontz.  Text & Concept: Larisa Faber / Music: Catherine Kontz / Video Mapping: Louise Rhoades-Brown / Costume & Prop / Design: Mélanie Planchard / Artistic Collaborator: Anne Simon / CID Fraen an Gender Tea for Free discussion moderated by Isabelle Schmoetten.  

PEAK ONTO MY DESK: …and you will spot a draft for a new piece for Ars Nova Luxembourg, inspired by old-style tap dance as well as Utai/Noh-style singing which I have taken a close interest in. It is wonderful when, after all these years something comes along which unexpectedly changes the way you think about sound. In Utai, pitch is almost secondary, a consequence of breath and energy in some way. A really fascinating practice.  From another pile on the desk you will be able to tell that I’m uncovering the secrets of yet another river with SL Grange. A new sound walk following the River Alzette will be ready to launch in 2022 when the city of Esch and its vicinity will become European capital of culture. But more about this later!    Taking on 2020 is hungry work. Another 120 days! Just like Tiny E, this year, we’re all superheroes in training. So take extra care and make the most of Caaaarr-booo-hydratesssss

 ‘til next time,

Catherine