'The Loop of the Nibelung' (2020) · Photo by David Sünderhauf
The Loop of the Nibelung is a new audiovisual piece by Simon Steen-Andersen that was premiered 28 July as a part of the Bayreuther Festspiele programme “Diskurs Bayreuth”. Although all physical concerts at the Bayreuther Festspiele have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus epidemic, Simon Steen-Andersen has used the opportunity to explore the empty Bayreuther Festspielhaus with some of the Bayreuther Festspiele singers and musicians, resulting in the online premiere of this new audiovisual piece. The video is available until 31 August 2020.
In The Loop of the Nibelung, the composer brings the musicians and singers of the Bayreuth festival into a “chain reaction machine” around the Bayreuther Festspielhaus. From the basement to the roof, a parkour-like course has been installed, making it seem like the house itself produces the music.
The performance is based on the ideas behind Run Time Error (2009), a site-specific audiovisual piece, which Simon Steen-Andersen performs himself, controlling a stereo soundtrack and double video projection with two joysticks. The Loop of the Nibelung can be characterised as a sort of extended version of Run Time Error, incorporating narratives and fragments of staging from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Alongside the singers and musicians of the Bayreuth Festspiel Orchestra, he engages with Wagner’s work at this historical site and presents the mystical Bayreuther Festspielhaus – as an instrument as well as a setting.
Simon Steen-Andersen (b.1976) studied composition with Karl Aage Rasmusen, Bent Sørensen, Mathis Spahlinger, and Gabriel Valverde in Denmark, Germany, and Argentina. He has been a lecturer in composition at the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, Denmark, at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and since 2018 he has held the position as professor in the Composition and Music Theatre department at the Bern University of the Arts.
Steen-Andersen's works often concentrate on integrating concrete elements in the music and emphasizing the physical and choreographic aspects of instrumental performance. The setups often include amplified acoustic instruments in combination with sampler, video, simple everyday objects or homemade constructions, as we see in The Loop of the Nibelung.
The Loop of the Nibelung (2020)
Concept, composition, conduct, and performance: Simon Steen-Andersen
Camera: Peter Tinning
Musicians: Wiebke Lehmkuhl & Nadine Weissmann (mezzosoprano),
Olafur Sigurdarson (baryton), musicians of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Sponsored by Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation
A production of the Bayreuth Festspiele