Juni 2011 Archive

Let there be LIGHT

I spent a fascinating moment behind the light-mixers and the VJs of the moers festival. Much more goes on here than I ever dreamed of imagining. The light-scene is just simply its own entire world in the cosmos of  all things do to with the concert.
The moers festival stage is lit by three different types of light. On the one side, there are the spotlights with light-bulbs infront of which there is a foil. Generally, this light source is one colour and when more than one foil can be chosen, the colour change will take some time. On the other side, there is the LED lighting. These can change colour very quickly, however the colours are slightly patchy, but they use 75% less energy - which is much to the delight of the green moers festival. This technology was used for the first time this year and was met with a positive response.
As a third light source, spot-lights armed with light bulbs, over which a prism has been imposed, are used, and a filter added which causes moving shapes and figures.
These three types of spot-light options are controlled by the light technician at the mixing table with a computer connected to it. The computer allows for pre-settings to be made, and thus for a terrifically speedy show, as we have experienced, for example, at the LA-33 performance.
In the festival tent, a fog machine causes the air to make all the spot-lights visible and the colour gradients noticeable. Thanks to the fog, the entire stage becomes immersed in colour.
Without fog, the lights need to be projected onto surfaces, and the resulting reflections as well as the illuminated surfaces would in this case provide the atmosphere.
A VJ has his own functions and possibilities, apart from those of the light technician, however, they do work together. The moers festival DJ Bruno Tait, whose real name is Kjell Rijntjes, spoke to me about his job in the lighting command center:

The light technician and the VJ presented some examples of light ambiance during a sound-check of the Golden Palominos. The festival photographer, Oliver Heisch, captured these for us:






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Abstract musicians

The finnish artist, Sinikka Airaksinen-Rade, draws musicians and their instruments, behind the scenes and during concerts.


She made available to us some of her work that was created in front of the stage in Moers:




Information about the artist can be found at www.sinikka-airaksinen.de

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Photos on stage

Our festival-photographer Oliver Heisch captured all the concerts with his camera. Here do you get some nice examples of his work:


Melvin Gibbs (Encryption)

Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman behind the stage

The Ambush Party

Jon Irabagon Trio

Igmar Thomas

Nils Petter Molvaer
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Bildung trifft auf Schule trifft auf Jazz

Der Schülerreporter Leo Schmidtke vom Medienprojekt Tomorrow is the question befragte die Bildungsministerin Sylvia Löhrmann nach der offiziellen Pressekonferenz des moers festival zu ihrer Beziehung zu der Veranstaltung:

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Young journalists were active at the moers festival

Marina Konrad and Nico Peters, two pupils from the education-project nimm! took a walk around the festival ground before the tent opened his "doors" and captured their impression on videotape:

You will find more articles and information from youngster journalists on their Tomorrow is the Question!-Blog.
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That's it! Good bye 40th edition.

Thank you, the audience! Bambi is holding a speech for all those who made the moers festival 2011 a success:

bambi rede.JPG

For all of you who do not understand "bambiish" is the following collage of audience-feedback to the Ornette Coleman-Quartett:

coleman signatures.JPG
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World premiere: Chris Dave & Friends

Chris Dave had a last minute arrival on the festival grounds. Directly after the concert, he spoke to Pino Palladino and Kebbi Williams about the premiere of their project and its resulting improvisations:

Pino Palladino and Chris Dave allow for some tensions to erupt during their collaborations: Palladino's straight style of playing, with self-repeating patterns competes with the opposing and fickle drums of Chris Dave.
Pino's commentary:

Chris Dave.jpg

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The Orchestra without Notes

Two pupils, Fabienne Krüger und Fatih Kaba, got involved with the Klangorchester 2011 and wrote the following article:

What sounds like aliens having a party is, in fact, the Klangorchester 2011 in the Moers Music School. On the 10th of June, pupils from grades 5 and 6, as well as their instructors, among others Georg Wissel, had the opportunity to impress the audience before the main programme in the main tent.

With everyday items such as cardboard, plastic cups and tubes, the pupils created new instruments. During the performance of the piece ''Alienator'', one of the pupils, Kimberly, prompted the audience to close their eyes and imagine their own fantasy story, as this piece was about communication between humans and aliens.
The project-week, which took place from the 7th until the 10th of June, had the title ''sound experiments'', and it culminated in a one-hour final concert. Here, pupils could express their newly learnt musical skills. The result was an unusual kind of music to the normal ear. The proof, that music does not always have to consist of equal verses and a repeating refrain. For them, it was more often about the regular alternation of soft and loud tones.
The audience was very impressed and applauded enthusiastically, which quickly drove out the initial niggling nervousness of the participants. In closing, the professional musicians played a piece to thank the kids. But this time with normal, acoustic instruments such as the flute, the saxophone and the violin. The way they played was reminiscent of a musical dialogue. At the end, the audience and the musicians left the music school, content and in a good mood. The last words by Georg Wissel (improviser of one of the performed pieces): ''I am very pleased, that the pupils collaborated so diligently [...]''.

fatih fabienne, georg.JPG
Fatih, Fabienne and Georg while the interview is going on.
Georg Wissel, the leader of the Klangorchester, on his impressions of the concert (in German):

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Iceland meets Germany

The cantine - a place of gathering and interpersonal communication. On normal working days in Moers, people spend their breaks and resting periods here and also during the moers festival, the cantine is one of the places where the 'calm' morning hours are spent.
In the Tribera, the Triangle below the Rathaus, free improvisation happens from Saturday until Monday, from 11am until 1pm. The line-ups are announced only shortly before the start of the concert and this spontaneity allows for exciting encounters.

morning sa.JPG

At the start of the morning sessions 2011, the cantine is well filled: eight musicians try to press and urge onto the stage and the audience stands are densely populated. Musicians from Iceland's New Liberation Orchestra encounter German improvisers.

At the beginning, the drum-set is the centre of power. Some musicians quietly produce sounds from their cymbals and tomtoms, which develops into an individual spiel of instruments which soon melts into a symbiosis of saxophone, trombone, piano, electronics, electronic guitar, flute, contrabass and drums, and surprisingly bursts into rhythmically fixated figures, thereupon loosing itself in electronic dabs, crescendi and hard edges.

Opinions from the audience are recorded here in a little collage:

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Jon Irabagon Trio: feedback from the audience


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Impressions from the audience

Listen to the crowd who just attented the concert of Iceland's New Liberation Orchestra:


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Lula Pena, the voice of the night

Her voice is dark, smokey and melancholic - Lula Pena, Portuguese Fado-singer, performed for us. 24 lucky guests had a chance to experience her in the 'Bauwagen' of the Nachtstimmen, or voices of the night, and to hear her very private concert.

lula pena.JPG

She talks about Fado, or rather her Phado, and unamplified performances:

Here you get an excerpt from her concert:

P.S.: The video of Baby Dee's concert is available on our youtube page.

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Alone, not lonely, yet very private: Hiviya Katan

Japan often plays a role in Moers. Hiviya Katan from Tokyo will be appearing as an additional treat within the frame of the side-shows in the morning sessions:


Hiviya (last name) Katan (first name) is a one-of-a-kind singer-songwriter who rarely appears, or maybe "never" appears in the landscape of Japanese music scene. It would even be correct to say that also in the world arena, such a musician is rarely seen.

So much to his biography. More concerte comparisons are made to well-known guitar greats, comparisons which are yet again disclaimed:

He was once referred to as Jimi Hendrix for his guitar-playing by Kongsberg Jazz Festival but his singing goes far beyond the blues or rock 'n roll type of singers. With  truly original and creative lyrics, his songs fiercely see through various social dimensions of the society, often in a satirical and dark manner and at the same time capture different phases of human nature. His multi-colored rainbow voices would not be shaded by his often rapid strokes of very strong chord progression. To Hiviya Katan, the complexity of guitar playing, vocal work and lyrics all merge perfectly without a single compromise.

One of the endeavors of the morning sessions is to discover rare jewels:
Hiviya Katan solo, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 11am - 1pm, in the 'Pulverhäusschen', opposite from the 'Schloss' (castle), Kastell number 9.

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1 day to go until Hanna launches the festival

When the lights go on on the main stage this week-end, the first to climb onto the planks of world importance won't be a musician, but a young woman called Hanna Bächer, the moderator of the concerts in the main tent.

Hanna Bächer.jpg

Hanna was kindly available for a little question and answer session:

How did it come about for you to be moderating at the moers festival?

I must've walked across the stage to organise something for the Moers Festival Radio when suddenly the lights went on.
As a sound technician, I thought, sure, while they're still organising the lights, I'll just help with the line check, and so I spoke into the microphone.
The next thing I knew, I was saying ''enjoy and have fun with...'' followed by the name of the next band.
And since then, I've been walking across the stage a bit more frequently, and ending my moderations with ''enjoy and have fun with...'', resolving to never say it again.
But I just can't stop saying it, it's like a spell!

What kind of musical background do you have?

I'm a sound technician and radio person, mainly a radio person these days.
From 2006 until 2009, I organised the Moers Festival Radio. You could say, that no-one really sees me while I talk, and I only stand on stages when I recoil cables or test microphones.
Very seldom do I organise concerts or musical presentations. I read and write about music culture and try to understand, what musicology is all about.
In a nutshell, I do a lot of little things that all have something to do with music.

What exactly is your job at the festival?

I make sounds, so that people notice that the show is about to carry on.
Apart from that, every year I try to figure out new ways of politely explaining to grown-ups that one either sits on a chair, or one doesn't - but a jacket alone cannot sit on a chair.
I'm still hoping to track down the ultimate formulation, without mutating into the type of person who shouts at cyclists for riding on the wrong side of the road. This canon of everyday values - to find out whether one should declare the maximum penalty of lifelong tester for the fieriness of curry-wurst sauces for the crime of cycling on the wrong side of the road or for leaving a jacket alone on a chair - occupies me a lot every year.

How do you prepare the audience for up-coming concerts?

At the end of the day, it's about the music, and not the announcements. That's why I'd rather say too little than too much.
If I do it well, it's enough to make the audience sharpen their ears, but not so much that my words stand in between the audience and the listening experience. Afterall, I speak before a performance, not after, so I want to spark curiosity, not influence anybody's opinions or perceptions.
And apart from that, I assume that the visitors at the moers festival are unbelievably informed. Most of them much more so than I might ever be.
Not the least because I'm younger than the festival itself. But also because, the more music I get to know, the more I realise, how much I still don't know. It's like the illusionary giant that doesn't get bigger once one gets closer.
If one still wants to think along genres in the year 2011, then I'm probably also from a more experimental corner, than having a jazz backround. The only thing to do is to keep on listening. For more information, I'd refer you to the following blog, for example.

What do you especially like about the moers festival?

Ok... again, I don't want to influence anybody's opinion, and seeing that I'll be moderating the festival, it might be a bit predictable if I say that the programme interests me... who would've thought...
But if you really want to know it, I don't need to exaggerate an inch, as one says...
Moers is what I want from a festival.
No running around between main event sites to see some 10-year reunion of a dusty old ex-headliner before which some agency put on stage whichever gap-fillers they just happened to have on offer for the spring, and having to look at the summer fashion live with a beer in my hand because I only latch on to 10 minutes of any concert anyway.
I want to be in a place which has a focus - if it has an atmosphere like a circus tent, all the better - and to experience something I have never heard before.
Something which is not the result of forced bookings, but rather something which someone has conceived of in a certain way, from beginning to end.
Unkown, unconventional, new stuff, appealing, noise, dance music, music that I find excessive, indifferent or annoying, and music which urges me to go outside because I cannot contain the inner turbulence and perfection it caused.
I would like the experience as a whole to widen my musical horizon so that it is unforgettable.
No check-list where I can tick off well-known things, not fulfilling any expectations, rather, something that challenges my expectations.
And that's exactly what Moers does
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Pre-moers festival during the nights before Whitsun

Usually, in a site trailer one works and lives... but sometimes, one makes music! nimm! the Network for Improvised Music in Moers organise(d) evening concerts with luminaries of international greatness: the sounds of Baby Dee, Phil Minton, Audrey Chen and Tom Smith have been resonating through the city of Moers at dusk for the last couple of nights.
Tonight the duo Circuitry & Poetry, Mona Jean Cedar together with Jeff Boynton will be appearing for the small audience:

cedar boynton.jpg

The duo from Los Angeles will be playing their German premiere tonight and will be presenting an encounter of Spoken Word poetry mixed with sign language and electronic sound worlds.

15 seats will be available on the 'Marktplatz', and entry to the concerts is free of charge. The start is at 9:45pm, just in time for sunset.

P.S.: Tomorrow night, the Portuguese fado-singer, Lula Pena, will be appearing. As a last appetiser before the start of the moers festival, this sound experience is not to be missed!

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Tørn in concert

The Improviser in Residence will not only be entertaining the town of Moers during his year of residence activities, he'll certainly also be playing at the festival. The contra-bassist, Achim Tang, will be appearing at the festival with his trio Tørn: Joe Hertenstein on the drums and Philip Zoubek on the prepared grand-piano.
Philip Zoubek and Joe Hertenstein studied together at the Cologne College for Music and Dance and Achim Tang met Philip Zoubek in Vienna where the former was temporarily living and making music and the latter was beginning his studies.
Their combined stage debut was Joe Hertenstein's diploma recital and they have since then been playing as a trio for at least five years. During this time, they developed their improvisational skills individually as well as collectively.
Achim Tang has already had a say in our blog, and that's why I spoke with Philip Zoubek about the trio Tørn.


In spring this year, their album Crespect was released on 2nd Floor. Philip Zoubek explains their concerted way of playing (in german):

In order to lend colour to the pieces and to work compositionally in a traditional sense, most of the pieces have underlying musical themes which are varied. In part, the way they are played is altered, through reversal of melodie and intervals for example, and partly the material is used for improvisations.

Tørn - Batterie (comp. Carla Bley)

Tørn don't always play according to compositional-thematic guidelines. To a great extent only the mood and the playing techniques are agreed upon (in german):

Tørn - in flight

Tørn will be the second band appearing on Sunday and will be playing together with special guest Joris Rühl.
Philip Zoubek about the concert at the moers festival (in german):

During the concert on the main stage we can expect, next to the Improviser in Residence, the drummer, Joe Hertenstein, who is currently living in New York, the Parisian New Music clarinette-player, Joris Rühl, and the pianist Philip Zoubek. With the preparing of the piano he finds himself on the tracks of John Cage (in german):

Joris Rühl_cl
Philip Zoubek_p
Achim Tang_b
Joe Hertenstein_dr

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Abdullah Ibrahim on the radio

An hour's voyage through music: Abdullah Ibrahim is a guest on Red Bull Music Academy Radio where he talks about his career development. Click here.

Copyright Manfred Rinderspacher

P.S.: Bambi is demonstrating:


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Moers is the question criticises

To criticise music is often best reserved for long established journalistes who can process historical facts in order to categorise new artists. Yet, pupils from the Geschwister-Scholl School in Moers set out to unreservedly deal with Nils Petter Molvaer as well as Igmar Thomas & The Cypher and recorded their impressions.
Their written criticisms, in German, can be found here.

However, I'd like to translate a few excerpts. The Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer certainly left some deep impressions:

Already the first couple of secondes capture the listener. The calmness conveyed by the music transfers the listerner into a sort of 'trance', I would say.


Nils Petter Molvaer allows many different tones to interweave, some of them sounding orientalistic, and others quite unusual, which one cannot directly categorise,  but this makes the whole thing very interesting. I find his music has a depth in which one can lose oneself but which is also thoroughly relaxing.

Igmar Thomas & The Cypher:

Igmar Thomas & The Cypher - a kind of band one seldom hears!
The mixture of hip hop and jazz sounds refreshing, but can just as quickly unsettle the nerves. By their song-to-song alteration of the tone, this band manages to create an atmosphere in which one can completely relax. However, at the same time, one is often shaken up by queer tone sequences.


Jazz is my one and only, and when my colleague gave me the album by Igmar Thomas and said that I might like it, I didn't think anything bad of it. However, when I first gave it a listen, my breath crystallised as if I was climbing Mount Everest without any equipment.

Nils Petter Molvaer will be performing on Friday night, and Igmar Thomas & The Cypher on Saturday.

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Let's play the bass: the 17-string koto

Michiyo Yagi needs about 14 kilo weight to soloistically lead her double-trio on the Koto.
Kotos come in varying types: the 7- and 13-stringed instruments belong to the Japanese tradition and the much larger 17- and 21-stringed instruments were produced in the 20th Century.

From right to left, a traditional 12-string koto, a 21-string koto, and a 17-string bass koto.

Mark Rappaport, Michiyo's manager, on the history of the koto:

The 21-string dates from around 1970. The 17-string was commissioned by the famed koto player and composed Michio Miyagi (notice the similarity of Michiyo's name to his -- a strange coincidence), who found Japanese music to be lacking in the lower register compared to Western music, in the early 1920's. It was originally conceived as an ensemble instrument, but eventually a small solo repertoire emerged.
The 21-string was created to expand the sonic range of the traditional koto in both the upper and lower registers. It could be called a pianistic instrument. It can also be compared to a guitar.
The 17-string is something like a cello or contrabass.

The two larger kotos play a particularly important role for Michiyo Yagi:

The bass koto has always been a very important instrument for Michiyo. It's a beast to travel with, but for the last six or seven years Michiyo has been insisting on taking both the 21-string and 17-string everywhere she performs. Her CD "Seventeen," which was recorded in 2005, was (as far as we know) the first album ever to be performed entirely on the bass koto. The bass koto is a high-action instrument and physically demanding to play, but Michiyo continues to be very serious about expanding its potential.

With a size of almost two-and-a-half meters in length and more than half a meter in diameter, the koto cases have coffin-like measures. This has sometimes lead to morbid jokes:

Some years ago, when we were touring Eastern Russia with Michiyo's six-member koto ensemble, we were awaiting a transfer at Vladivostok Airport. We had 13 black flight cases stacked up in a pile, and six exhausted women plus me sitting next to them. People kept coming up and asking us something in Russian, shaking their heads and looking sympathetic. It turns out they were asking, "What happened? Where was the crash?" They thought we were picking up the remains of loved ones killed in some kind of airplane disaster...

But apart from worried inquiries by fellow travellers, travelling with such massive luggage can lead to problems:

As is probably true with any player of a large instrument, we are pretty much at the mercy of airlines, some of whom are supportive of musicians, some not. We have found out that some airlines gleefully charge as much excess or oversize baggage charges as they can, whereas others are quite reasonable. So with every trip overseas, we have to be cautious regarding travel arrangements.

On their trip to Moers, of course, everything will go smoothly with transportation. And that's why the Michiyo Yagi Double-Trio will be performing on Sunday in the tent.

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