Under Håkon Stene, who takes the dual-role of percussionist and conductor, the Århus Sinfonietta will open the Wundergrund Festival 2013 on October 26 with the Copenhagen premiere of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Black Box Music. First performed in 2012 and since heard the world over, the Koncertkirken will host the first performance of this most immersive work in the capital.
We hear music but we do not quite see it. Steen-Andersen’s ‘grand show’ has the conductor/soloist perform duties with hands inside an amplified black box mocked up to be a stage, complete with curtains and props. However, this is all we really see projected on a screen, as flanking the audience the work’s fifteen players respond to their on-screen master. With loudspeakers playing the sounds from the conductor/percussionist also located around the concert space, the whole room is a stage and all directed from this box within a box.
The work, in a sense, furthers the ‘location as an instrument’ concept explored in the video-installation piece RunTime Error. But here different concepts are at play. Our visual focus is directed away from the performers and into the microcosm of performance we see projected before us, but simultaneously we are inside of.
This radical but compelling, and sometimes funny, take on the inherent theatre of music has attracted much praise and will come just a day after the composer is awarded the prestigious Carl Nielsen Prize at the Black Diamond, Royal Library, which that evening hosts a celebratory concert featuring the composer's works.
Also as part of the Copenhagen-based festival, on the following Monday the composer himself is set to engage in a debate about music and performance at the Literaturhaus from 6pm.