7 May 2019
RENÉ HEYVAERT AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
Siglo XX Instrumental Ensemble - Florian Vlashi
Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea
Tuesday, 7 May 2019, 8 p.m.
At 7.30 p.m., before the concert, the curators Anne Heyvaert and Santiago Olmo will give a guided tour of the René Heyvaert exhibition.
René Heyvaert always had an interest in music and in the latter years of his life (from the nineteen-sixties up until 1984), also coinciding with his artistic phase, specifically in contemporary music. In his letters and notebooks, as well as in conversations with friends, he comments on, quotes and talks repeatedly of Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern, Milhaud, Fauré, Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, Vinko Globokar, John Cage, Steve Reich, Philip Glass or Louis Demeester.
This concert aims not to recapture either his preferences as a music lover or the references of the period in which he developed his artistic work but, instead, to offer an interpretation of the dialogue that his works are able to establish with music-making models in parallel with his work, in relation with interests and methodologies which are, ultimately, a way of sharing a certain spirit of the times and a sign of his capacity for foresight.
From this perspective, the works in the programme must be linked to different facets of René Heyvaert’s work, present in the exhibition, as a parallel, as a poetic understanding.
In the same way as the musical experiments of his time, René Heyvaert used seriation or iteration as methodologies in his work: in his drawings on lined paper or in the objects that repeat geometrical combinations and basic shapes with slight variations.
The constant presence of natural elements, and especially tree trunks and branches which function as objects, sculptures and ready-made, seem to establish a silent dialogue with Susumu Yoshida’s work, Kodama (L’Esprit de l'arbre). Calligraphy is very much present in his correspondence by letter, almost always hand-written, in his notebooks and in his mail art too; it is meticulous and becomes a distinguishing feature of his personality, which Toshio Hosokawa’s work, Kalligraphie, addresses. Lastly, the journey, and the importance that a certain ‘American experience’ had in his life, both for his vision of architecture and of art, with the background and echoes of World War II, sum up the longing for a new world and new kinds of life and society to aspire to. In this vital context, Steve Reich’s work Different Trains condenses the tension, present in parallel with René Heyvaert’s work, of how to build the future without forgetting memory.
Toshio Hosokawa (Hiroshima, Japan, 1955)
Kalligraphie I, II, III, IV, V, VI, 2007
Six pieces for string quartet
Susumu Yoshida (Tokyo, Japan, 1947)
Kodama I (L’Esprit de l’arbre), 1977
For violin solo
Steve Reich (New York, United States, 1936)
Different Trains, 1988
For string quartet and tape
I - America - Before the War
II - Europe - During the War
III - After the War
Kalligraphie, 2007. Composer: Toshio Hosokawa. Duration: 15 min
‘Music is calligraphy, it uses sounds painted on the canvas of silence.’
We are not always prepared for silence. It catches us unawares. Instead, it is the written word, signs in themselves, that leaves us marked.
The stroke of a violin calligraphs our face. It gives us significance. This is how Kalligraphie starts, an immersion in the black stroke of the cord and its snow-white silences, perturbing, almost crinkly like paper, and the rituals of the brush, hand and ink in Japanese culture.‘The moment you hit the instrument is the moment you break with convention. The sound breaks the silence. They break the world that had existed until that moment.’
These are the words of Toshio Hosokawa, a composer born ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima and, like many of his fellow countrymen, he approaches the art of calligraphy as a meditative exercise. The preparatory motion in space, he has said, is as important as the moment of writing; the hand follows a continuous line and the line in space causes the line on the paper.
Kodama I (L’Esprit de l’arbre), 1977.Composer: Susumu Yoshida. Duration: 10 min
As a reaction to such a suffocating modern society, in my works I try to relate to nature through music. This music is based on silence. It is a music conceived ‘in the negative,’ the notes only exist to create and condition this silence. For this reason, there is but a minimum of essential notes. Silence is not nothingness, it is not only the moment when one hears nothing, it is a form of existence in itself which is hidden behind the notes. I wait for nature, through the spirit of the tree (kodama), to speak to us through its profound silence…
Different Trains, 1988. Composer: Steve Reich. Duration: 30 min
Steve Reich is considered to be America’s best living composer. His Different Trains for string quartet and tape is a twentieth-century masterpiece. It is based on childhood memories of when he travelled by train from New York to California in the nineteen-forties, in the same time frame as, in Europe, the trains of the Holocaust were making their journeys to death. The work is comprised of three parts: I - America, before the War, II - Europe, during the War, III - After the War, in which recordings of the original voices of survivors of concentration camps are interspersed with train whistles and pre-recorded music using digital programmes, quite a challenge in the history of classical music.
SIGLO XX INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
The Siglo XX Instrumental Ensemble was created in 1996 on the initiative of the violinist Florian Vlashi as a tribute to the Great Century. The Ensemble’s purpose is to perform the best pieces of chamber music composed from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day. Its members are instrumental soloists from the Symphonic Orchestra of Galicia. It has given premiere performances of works by Spanish composers and has an extensive repertoire of over 200 pieces by authors from Stravinsky, Falla or Richard Strauss, to Messiaen, Xenakis and Ligeti. It has taken part in different national and international festivals and received glowing reviews and fervent applause from audiences. The Ensemble is open to new projects and spaces, combining new music with poetry, theatre, dance, video and the plastic arts.
FLORIAN VLASHI, Durres, Albania, 1963
He began studying the violin at the age of 6. He studied with V. Papa, R. Stefi and I. Madhi and was unanimously given first place by Tirana’s Academy of Fine Arts. He has been a member of the Symphonic Orchestra of Galicia since 1992.
Florian Vlashi plays an 18th Century J. Bocquay violin.
SIGLO XX INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
Florian Vlashi, violin solo / Mihai Tanasescu, violin / Raymond Arteaga, viola / Ruslana Prokopenko, cello