Polyphonic Spatial Sound with 3-D ZKM Media Installation
Sun, May 22, 2011 8.30 pm CEST, Concert
In a joint concert project in the Catholic church “Unserer Lieben Frau” in Karlsruhe’s Südstadt, the chamber choir Ettlingen led by Ralf Keser and the vocal ensemble Cantus Solis Karlsruhe led by Anja Daecke present polyphonic Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern a cappella choir music. Bernd Lintermann, media artist and head of the ZKM | Institute for Visual Media will stage the extensive and seldom heard vocal works with an animated 3-D media installation in the framework of the concert.
In this strikingly unique concert and art presentation, exclusive polyphonic and therefore seldom heard choir pieces will be combined with animated computer graphics using the latest 3-D technologies to create a multidimensional sound and media experience. Bernd Lintermann has explored this interplay of his computer images with choir music live at this years Festival of Arts in Hong Kong, in the context of the festival “Zeitfenster Biennale Alter Musik” Berlin, and in installations at ZKM | Karlsruhe. This 3-D animation corresponds with the choral sound experience from a multitude of interwoven individual voices, in which a great number of geometric forms grow together to a large, internally dynamic formation.

The central sound piece is Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis (~1505–1585)’s forty-voice motet “Spem in alium” with eight five-voiced choirs arranged in the space. The combination of this music architectural masterpiece with animated 3-D computer graphics can be considered a special highlight of the program. In the Renaissance quadruple canon “Deo gratias” by Johannes Ockeghems (~1410–1497), a key representative of Franco-Flemish vocal polyphony, thirty-six voices enter successively. In both choir pieces, above-average demands are placed on solo voices in terms of rhythmic precision and confident singing ability.

Baroque ambient sound is generated through an interchange of several spatially separated choir groups.
The musical version of the 51st psalm “Miserere mei, Deus” by Gregorio Allegris (1582–1652) lives from an alternation of solo psalmody and polyphonic verses. Legends abound around the Papal bandmaster’s work: it was destined solely for performance in the Sistine Chapel and there was a transcription ban placed on it. Mozart is meant to have learned this piece by heart simply through listening to it. He then subsequently wrote it down. Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) brought the Baroque several-choir composition method from Venice to the German speaking world: Psalm 2 “Warum toben die Heiden” is exceptionally lively and rousing through its extreme closeness to speaking and the vocal exchange between two favorite choirs.

Modern spatial and sound worlds merge in “Hear my prayer, o Lord”: Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström (*1942) worked out a fascinating version of an anthem by English baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). After approximately three-quarters of the original composition, Sandström weaves in his own sound and space elements to then close with dissonances reaching the border of what can be sung in a releasing C-major. Also Dieter Schnebel (*1930) experimented with modern tone colors: his “Contrapuncti” are workings of Bach fugues from the “Art of Fugue” He translates their originally linear compositions into spatial ones by scattering the performers throughout the audience.
The thrill of Pierre Calmelet’s (*1960) “Alleluia. Variationen über ein altes Thema” is its choral improvisation, which constantly brings to the fore new tone colors and spatial effects.

The popular choral work “Lux aurumque” by U.S.-American composer Eric Whitacre (*1970) achieved fame mainly through a video initiated by the composer, which can be found on the internet platform YouTube: There, it resounds through a virtual choir in which 185 singers from twelve countries submitted recordings of their solo voices. The two chamber choirs, with a total of 70 choral singers and a soprano soloist, present this hit live.
Organization / Institution