Meetings, on the choice of artists and works for Words Live 2
Toine Horvers

Samuel Vriezen is, first of all, a conceptual artist and thinker. As a composer, he has written quite a few works for groups like De Volharding and the Zephyr Quartet. As a poet, he published his first collection, 4 Zinnen, earlier this year - the book was immediately enthusiastically reviewed in De Groene Amsterdammer. The book is more of a conceptual art work with language than a book of poems in the conventional sense. Furthermore, Samuel was the founder of the Jackson Mac Low Band, a group of artists, poets and composers based around Stichting Perdu.

The first conversations that I had with Dante Boon - a composer, pianist and presenter of concerts - quite quickly veered from music into the visual arts and literature. Dante started his career as a pianist at the age of 13, studying at the Sweelinck Conservatory, and he premiered works by composers such as Tom Johnson, Anthony Fiumara and Clarence Barlow. Together with Samuel, he recorded a CD of constructivist piano works by Tom Johnson called Symmetries: a small gem. For their part, Dante's own compositions have been performed by the Nederlands Vocaal Laboratorium, the New York Miniaturist Ensemble and Marcel Worms. Just as Samuel did, Dante has programmed and organized many concert series, in venues such as De Badcuyp and the Goethe Institut in Amsterdam.

I got to know Cora Schmeiser (ex-Vocaal Laboratorium) as a singer, but I would prefer to call her a vocal performer. Although she is a marvellous soprano - I've heard her many times in early music performances, in works by composers like Hildegard von Bingen - I approached her first of all because of her stupendous spoken performances, including works by Kurt Schwitters and Georges Aperghis. Cora takes part in many very different kinds of projects and productions of mediaeval and baroque as well as contemporary and imrpovised music. She has performed at De Player before as part of trio UIUIUI with Anne Wellmer and Nina Hitz.

As a performance artist I - Toine Horvers - have been for many years interested in language, in written as well as in spoken form. This interest grew more intense as a result of a stay in Ireland for a couple of months in 2003. I am especially interested in a more or less composed, constructed form of language, in which language takes on the character of a ritual - thus being different from everyday informative/communicative language - and how this is sounded in space by the voice. In fact I am a designer: my works consist of simple systems and constructions for making language heard in time and space and this, I think, is where I connect with the oral tradition.

Arnold Marinissen
's principal passion is for percussion, but over the years he has increasingly embraced all kinds of different forms of expression. In a solo recital some years ago, one work consisted entirely of taking steps in some pattern through space; in other recent projects, he made a connection between percussion and film, for example in a work he made in collaboration with his brother, Rob Marinissen, which had Arnold beat with a chunk of wood against a tree on film, edited in such a way that a kind of audiovisual techno-music with heavy beats resulted. But his main form of interdisciplinary exploration is the voice. Arnold refers to himself as the "speaking percussionist": in his performances, percussion and voice can merge completely.

Abner Preis
(Philadelphia) is currently staying at Duende in Rotterdam as a guest. He walks around with a sketch book with childlike felt-pen drawings in it of rather absurd characters that play a role in his theatre of stories. As of yet, I haven't seen him perform - though he does it daily - but his offer to perform in Words Live was so forceful and convincing that it just had to happen. His stories take place in an intimate setting with the audience sitting closely around him and him showing the picture of the character the story is about.

My attention was first drawn to Inari Salmivaara's performance in a program with young choreographers that had been invited by Krisztina de Châtel. Her concept, of a dancer/performer describing her own movements in speech, has become a basic element of her art. Language in general plays an important role in her work. She might for example name parts of her performance out loud, not in order to announce them but to enlarge space. The story is its own telling.

Roni Klinkhamer
is part of the performance tradition of the 70s. Back then her performances were a hippie-like colorful mix of actions with hand-made objects and spoken or shouted puns and bits of poems. Roni would always take up a lot of space, both literally and figuratively. She would outline her performance area with trunks full of trinkets and materials and would run from one side to the other to rummage around in all that stuff all the while treating the audience to texts or fragments of songs that would have some relationship or other to the objects. Though casual and entertaining, it's mostly the sense of inner necessity that gives these performances a ritualistic power.

Daniëlle van Vree
is working as a performance and installation artist with a background in theatre. In her performances, she combines live action and speech with video and pre-recorded voices. These different elements combine in her work in startling ways. Sub Urban Video Lounge presented her work 'Waiting Again' in which a woman in a red dress is standing in a public space at different points in time (she is played all the time by different persons in the same location with the same dress and position) looking about her pensively, while a voice-over is heard speaking fragmented thoughts about existence and waiting.

I saw Arf Arf (Melbourne) years ago in a performance festival in Sydney. Their works - group poetry and sound performance - were very experimental, as were the films they were making. (Marcus Bergner's films have been shown a number of times in Sub Urban Video Lounge.) Their work is playful and disorderly on the one hand and very structured and clearly imagined on the other hand. Sometimes, a rather normal text may acquire a special character through very simple operations, for example by having every sentence repeated by a second voice. My offer to 'cover' some older works for Words Live met with great enthusiasm on the part of Arf Arf. I have chosen to present a few works with a rather simple structure.

Beth Anderson
is a composer with a background in the New York Downtown scene, coming out of the tradition of John Cage. Over the years her compositions made a strange and interesting change from strict conceptual works to a lavish romanticism, unproblematically celebrating the beautiful. In her early text works one can already find signs of this change. These are highly virtuoso repetitive poems that are to be recited, whose virtuosity makes them more like rhythmical sound works than like poems, or, as she puts it, 'a vocal percussive music' that show traces of her childhood experiences at auctions (her father was an auctioneer).

John Cage
wrote Aria for singer Cathy Berberian, to be performed together with the tape-piece Fontana Mix. In his book "The Music of John Cage",James Pritchett writes about the piece: "[... ] twenty pages of score (to be sung at any tempo) contain scattered events notated as pitch curves in ten different colors, each color representing a different style of singing (the choice of styles is made by the singer). Vocal noises also occur in the piece, notated in the score by black squares. The text consists of vowels, consonants, words, and phrases in five different languages: Armenian, Russian, English, French and Italian." Aria is performed tonight five times by Cora Schmeiser as a very brief piece.

Ross Harris is composer from New Zealand. He wrote 'Silence greets the Dawn' for Arnold Marinissen. The work was composed in reacted to a text by Tim Flannery in which he describes how the richness of the sound of enormous amounts of birds in the Queen Charlotte Sound, that has existed for millions of years, has almost completely disappeared over the past few centuries. Silence... consists of a long enumeration of Latin names for New Zealand's extinct birds, accompanied by rolls of tiny finger drums.

Anthony Fiumara: "The movement of falling has always fascinated me as a composer, so a few years ago I decided to start a series of works that would take falling as their subject - Ninety-Two Falls. I wrote these studies of falling for percussionist Arnold Marinissen, who immediately responded to my project with great enthusiasm. Why 92 'falls'? That has to do with Peter Greenaway, who, himself, at one point had misunderstood Cage.
I wrote Fall #6 based on the first Thunderclap from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. All of the Wake is about falling and tilting, and the ten Thunderclap-words in the book are the harbingers of a new phase."

related works:
Words Live 2