Work of the Week - Jörg Widmann: Babylon-Suite
Jörg Widmann is the Composer in Residence at this summer's Grafenegg Festival in Austria. Alongside performances of his works, Widmann has been commissioned to write a new work for orchestra, Babylon-Suite, which will receive its world première on 21 August by Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich and conductor Kent Nagano. The work is a co-commission with Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the National Concert Hall of Wales.
Babylon-Suite is the concertante version of Widmann’s large-scale opera Babylon, premièred in 2012 to huge acclaim at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Rather than a story about divine punishment, Widmann and the librettist Peter Sloterdijk shift the focus in Babylon to the chaos and the suffering of a disjointed world and the desire for order. The music reflects the diversity of this society, with the multitude of languages serving as Widmann's basic compositional concept. A variety of extreme contrasts and layering of material lend the piece its form and high significance is given to the number seven, which orders and controls the musical system.
I would go as far as to say the sound of this city is not so far away from the sound of our time: the juxtaposition and superimposition of such diverse cultures, peoples and religions brings forth a wild and fascinating simultaneity of tones. You can hear a linguistic confusion in the music as was probably heard only in Babylon, and which is heard today. Whether Babylon sounded so much different, I don't know. – Jörg Widmann
After the world première, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester will perform Babylon-Suite in April 2015 in Berlin.
The Grafenegg Festival opened this year on 14 August with Widmann's Fanfare für zehn Bechbläser. Others of Widmann's works to be performed at the festival include Elegie für Klarinette und Orchester on 15 August, Versuch über die Fuge on 24 August, and the third string quartet, Jagdquartett on 30 August. Widmann will also mentor the composer workshop, "INK STILL WET", from 22 - 25 August.
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