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Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
World Premiere
Muziekgebouw aan't IJ, Amsterdam
Sarah Maria Sun, voice / Ensemble Modern / Enno Poppe
Composer's Notes

Assange – Fragmente einer Unzeit (Assange – Fragments of an Un-time) is about freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and the danger that threatens all of us if the law is suddenly no longer valid. On a deeper level, this work has to do quite fundamentally with the danger to our freedom as individuals. Besides the question of what we get to see and to hear (through the media), what is “presented” to us, it also has to do with what we even want to see and hear. What we can even endure and withstand, what we allow ...

Formally, Assange – Fragmente einer Unzeit takes recourse in a sense to the form of a melodrama and demands that the vocalist, Sarah-Maria Sun, fashion the “inner process” of the figure of an “existentially threatened individual.” Since her part is laid out almost entirely without text, she can express this process only through a very differentiated vocal articulation of the notated noise and voice passages as well as a special “demeanor of attentiveness” of hearing, of listening (to the music roaring around her).
To be heard is text primarily from the sampler, played live by pianist Hermann Kreztschmar, who in accordance with the score exactly transmits into the space different opinions/voices from the media concerning the case of Assange. These many “voices” form a (medial) chorus against which the main figure can hardly protect himself/herself.
It is the role of the (ensemble) music to become involved in the symbolizations that appear in the different opinions of these many “voices,” and to stimulate reinterpretations and irritations. In doing so, it also takes recourse to musical “formulas of pathos” and asks whether under certain circumstances a critical potential is also inherent in the much maligned affect?
Where does the kitsch begin, where the pathos? The suppression?
Perhaps precisely in the pathos there is something to free and save, namely that which in its intensity has always fascinated and captivated us, but which is again and again taken away from us through the “oversized” symbolic templates (clichés) into which our feelings are pressed in diffferent social processes. That which is encapsulated would be burst open in order to let it again be ambivalent and experienced anew – so that our “main figure,” and that what inherently fascinates and repels us, receives a chance and a space. And with that the foreign, the suppressed in ourselves.
Iris ter Schiphorst, 2021

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