Saturday 3 March 2012 at 6pm, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra - with musicians from National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and London Philharmonic Orchestra Foyle Future Firsts
Jonathan Stockhammer: conductor
David Moss: voice
Jocelyn B Smith: mezzo-soprano
To launch the Southbank Centre's Cultural Olympiad and to celebrate the acclaimed German composer's 60th birthday, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Symphony Orchestra will give the London premiere of Heiner Goebbels' edgy, urban soundscape Surrogate Cities on Saturday 3 March at the Royal Festival Hall. The performance is part of the BBC's Music Nation weekend (3-4 March 2012) and includes "Exploded!", a festival of new work inspired by Goebbel's orchestral tour de force curated by choreographer Lea Anderson within the Royal Festival Halls' public spaces, which will put London's urban youth at the heart of the project - both on stage and in the audience.
Drawing upon an eclectic mix of musical influences, text and sampled sound, Goebbels has stated that his intention withSurrogate Cities was "...not to produce a close-up but to try and read the city as a text and to translate something of its mechanics and architecture." The work pulsates with the dynamism of the city - a life-blood which is all-consuming, relentless, hostile, isolating, mechanical and destructive.
In response to Surrogate Cities, teenagers from the Isle of Dogs, the wider Tower Hamlets community and South London boroughs including Lewisham, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark, all areas affected by last summer's youth riots, will create a series of performances as part of Trinity Laban's community programme. Performances of the Isle of Dogs and Tower Hamlets community work will be showcased at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf on 10 February and some of these will be performed at the Southbank Centre on 3 March as part of 'Exploded!', in which dance, film and music performances will be shown in the public spaces of the Royal Festival Hall in the afternoon before performance of Goebbels' own work.
For the London premiere of Surrogate Cities, Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra, comprising 80 current students, will be augmented by young musicians from the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Foyle Future Firsts scheme. They will be joined by soloists Jocelyn B. Smith and David Moss, who feature on the original ECM recording of Goebbels' work and have toured the piece worldwide. This is a unique platform for Trinity Laban students to perform at such an important London premiere in one of Europe's leading venues.
Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance commented:
"Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance is an international hub for future world leaders in the arts. With its combined music and dance offering, Trinity Laban is directly connected to the contemporary pulse. Surrogate Cities presents a superb opportunity to focus on the future generation of artists in the lead up to the Olympics."
Surrogate Cities (1993-94) is a major 90-minute work for mezzo-soprano, speaker and large orchestra, originally commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the 1200th anniversary of the city of Frankfurt. It was subsequently championed by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Unlike much of Goebbels'output, which is deeply rooted in experimental theatre, Surrogate Cities is on a truly symphonic scale, using a particularly large post-Romantic orchestra. This performance is a collection of six of the works: In the Country of Last Things (string version), Die Faust im Wappen, a Suite for Sampler and Orchestra, Drei Horatier Songs, Die Städte und die Toten 4 / Argia, and Surrogate. Central to the work is the use of text, and literary quotations by authors such as Paul Auster, Hugo Hamilton and Heiner Müller appear throughout.
It is an exploration of the 'concrete jungle' in all its complexity complete with musical-historical 'flashbacks' to times past. One notable example is the sampled antique recordings of Jewish cantors, heard in the Suite's 'Chaconne.' The piece portrays a cityscape which is full of thundering life and energy, but is also at times an empty, dark and dangerous place. Such darkness is especially prevalent in In the Country of Last Things, in which Moss's recitations on the transience of the city contrast with Smith's wordless vocalisations behind him.
"When you live in the city, you learn to take nothing for granted. Close your eyes for a moment, turn around to look at something else and the thing that was before you is suddenly gone. Nothing lasts, you see. ...Once a thing is gone, that is the end of it. ...That is what the city does to you. It turns your thoughts inside out. It makes you want to live and at the same time it tries to take your life away from you. There is no escape from this." - Surrogate Cities: In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster
"It [Surrogate Cities] turns the symphony orchestra on its head . . . . It gave one listener a first sense of what it must have been like to hear a Mahler symphony a century ago, with the whole notion of sonic possibility expanded at a stroke." - The New York Times
Creative Cities- 10 February at 6.30pm in the East Wintergarden
Inspired by Surrogate Cities, Trinity Laban has created its own community project, Creative Cities, focusing on the Isle of Dogs community as well as young people from the wider Tower Hamlets area. Funded by the Canary Wharf Group plc, the project culminates in a performance in the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf on 10 February. Over 500 young people from primary and secondary schools, youth clubs and the local community have interpreted what the urban landscape means to them through dance, music and film. After the February performance, selected acts from this project, together with additional groups, will perform in the public spaces of the Festival Hall as part of 'Exploded!' leading up to the performance of Surrogate Cities.
More than 1,000 free tickets to Surrogate Cities at the Royal Festival Hall will be made available to the teenagers taking part in Creative Citiesand to young people in Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth.
Heiner Goebbels was born in 1952 in Neustadt/Weinstrasse, Germany. He has been based, since 1972, in Frankfurt, writing chamber music, music theatre, audio plays, and theatre-film-ballet music. Goebbels also has a reputation as an improviser in free music and art-rock genres. In 1976 he co-founded the "Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester", which he led until 1981, and the duo Heiner Goebbels/Alfred Harth, which existed until 1988. Between 1978 and 1980 he was musical director at the Frankfurt Schauspiel, and in 1982 founded the critically-lauded experimental rock group Cassiber. In the mid-1980s he began composing and directing audio plays of his own, most of them based on texts by Heiner Müller. Since then, Goebbels' work has been staged in more than 30 countries, and he is currently Director of the Ruhr Festival.
Goebbels first recorded for ECM in 1980 in an improvisational project with Paul Lovensand others. His compositional albums for ECM and ECM New Series are "Der Mann im Fahrstuhl" (recorded 1988), "Hörstücke" (1984-1990), "Shadow/Landscape with Argonauts" (1990), "La Jalousie / Red Run / Herakles 2 / Befreiung" (1992) and "Ou bien le débarquement désastreux" (1994). Goebbels' work has won numerous national and international awards, including the Prix Italia, the Prix Futura, the Berliner Hörspielpreis, the Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden, the Karl-Sczuka-Hörspielpreis des SWF Baden-Baden, the Goldene Ehrennadel der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and the Hessischer Kulturpreis.
"When it comes to the power dynamics of the city, the individual is always the more vulnerable party. Art rebels against this overpowering structure by strengthening the subjective element. Music, too, is composed from a highly subjective perspective, for composers usually justify what they write by saying that they "need to get it out of their system". That is only partly true for me. l try to gain a bit more distance: l construct something that confronts the audience, and the audience reacts to it, discovering in the music a space they can enter complete with their associations and ideas." - Heiner Goebbels