With the opening concert we re-visit the great times of avantgarde ideas, high expectations and dreams for a better future. This production is a collaboration between the projects Reconstruction of Utopia by Peter Aidu and Moscow School of Dramatic Art, Wach auf! by Poing and MajaRatkje from Oslo, and ensemble Spolokhi from Arkhangelsk.
The first part of the performance reconstructs sound experiments and post-revolutionary music utopias of the 1920-30s of the Soviet Russia- from noiserhythmusic by Arseny Avraamov to the weird proletarian arrangements of the classics. Thorough research and the intention to bring forward authentic sound shaped Reconstruction of the Utopiaproject. After a huge success in Moscow and with favorable reviews in media it is now available in a new version to the Barentsgoers.
One of the outstanding cultural phenomena of the 1920s is the typical early Soviet “noise orchestra”. Being originated in the post-futurist theatrical circles, these noise-orchestras were adapted soon to the musically illiterate proletarian and peasant masses and as a part of pioneers’ musical education.Exceptionally vital was the introduction of self-made and easy-to-make instruments in the period of the extreme shortage of the professional instruments. A glass xylophone with empty vodka bottles, pandean pipe with chemist’s bottles instead of flute, and a bull bladder with a vein string on a mop or a string on a bentwood chair instead of strings. There were plenty of percussion instruments made of food tins and milk cans, drums out of saucepans, etc. Particularly interesting are cardboard tubes with cigarette paper, which resemble kazoo or the sound of a scratched gramophone record. Such tubes will be offered to the audience during the performance to accompany musicians on stage. Despite that during Stalin times such futurist and incidentally clownery legacy was considered as ideologically disloyal, noise-orchestras survived at least till the late 1930’s, but have never been regarded as a part of history of music. In this sense authentic songs praising Stalin (that are an essential part of the program) are rather a part of a historic soundscape, than mere irony. So are the classical pieces adopted for the noise set. We will hear «Ode to Joy» by Beethoven, romances by Tchaikovsky – all performed by the noise orchestra that employs such self-made devices (that were locally produced for the occasion).
Another popular genre of the sound experiments from the early avantgarde era is the recitation of zaum’ poetry (in a kind of futurist language). The poems chosen for the performance appear as the purest zaum’ and belong to the acclaimed futurist writer Alexey Kruchenykh. It will be interpreted by the well-known Russian actor Igor Yatsko.
Finally, the number recalling sport parades – “Music sports games for schoolchildren accompanied with music by Franz Schubert». Based on the original score from 1937, it may give clear impression of how physical training had to go along with the mass agitation for the classical music.
The second part of the performance is inspired by the post-war German music and Norwegian workers’ songs – in new interpretations.Two of Norway’s finest, naughtiest and most innovative performers, trio Poing and a vocal explorer Maja Ratkjehave joined forces to produce the project Red Revolution. It goes back to 2000, when they started performing songs by Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Hans Eisler at annual concerts on the night before May 1st, the International Workers’ Day, in the clubs of Oslo, joined by a festive crowd and guest artists.The repertoire has been expanded to include national anthems from extinct Socialist states, folk music and workers’ songs from around the world.
Ratkje’s dark, vibrato-laden voice fully inhabits this music, moving along the program from “Solidaritäslied” and “Nationalhymne der DDR” by Bertolt Brecht/Hanns Eisler to “Mining for Gold”, dedication to the old miners, to “Gategutt” and “Revolusjonens røst” by Rudolf Nilsen/ Lillebjørn Nilsen.
In their artistic statement Wach Auf!, the musicians state “The Red Revolution has a new face in our time. Is it progress or sentimentality? How can we, by caressing old idioms with contemporary lust and energy, suggest an inviting alternative to the egocentric postmodern capitalism and liberalism? Brecht encouraged to play with and exaggerate the elements used on stage… By doing so, he hoped to communicate that the audience’s reality is equally constructed and changeable. So, join us in the singing, and never stop changing!” In our turbulent times, this music could hardly be more relevant, especially in the way delivered by MajaRatkje and Poing.
The concert may be interpreted as a coming-together of naive kitsch and the refined avantgarde, proletarian amateur performance and improvisations far beyond traditionally nostalgic notes of the past. You can experience the concert as a reconstruction of the historical phenomena or as a postmodernist game. Well, the history develops in spirals, and we definitely recognize ourselves in the time of transition, full of longings for great transformations. Maybe, manufacturing the music in a professional or amateur manner, we all together manufacture a new world in our minds?
Reconstruction of Utopia:
Peter Aidu, Grigory Krotenko, Anna Litkens, Andrey Emeljanov, Pavel Kravets, Anton Kapanin,Igor Yatsko, Konstantin Dudakov-Kashuro, Grigory Durnovo.
Sergei Kharlanov, Roman Popov, Natalia Korel, Oleg Titov, Andrei Ponomarev.
Maja S.K. Ratkje and POING (Håkon Thelin, Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, Frode Haltli).