Rozalie Hirs

News and events archive, search by tag: dreams of airs

2019/10/01

dreams of airs (2017-18)

Contents

1. Summary
2. Program notes
3. In the press
4. Interview
5. Technical details
6. Performances

Summary

Dreams of Airs (2017-18) is a cycle of poetry and music by Rozalie Hirs. Its sound world features eight musicians, a singer who speaks, and electronic sounds. The visual artists Boris Tellegen and Geert Jan Mulder designed a live video installation for the performance. The duration of the performance is around 60 minutes.

Thanks to the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund and the Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industry for financial support. Thanks to MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Maison Dora Maar for their generous and indispensable residencies and fellowships. With special thanks to Johan Reyniers (dramaturgical advice) and Martín Mayo (amanuensis).

Rozalie Hirs – music (score, electronic sounds), poetry
Boris Tellegen, Geert Jan Mulder – moving image

Program notes

dreams of airs: the longing of language – spoken word, binaural beats, brain waves, mirror neurons

The new full-length composition dreams of airs (2017-18) by the Netherlands-based composer/ poet Rozalie Hirs offers a unique listening experience. The listener is guided through mesmerizing accelerandos and rallentandos in a lounge-like environment. The combination of spoken word, music, and visuals serves to stimulate various senses at once. The audience is seated around the room, as are the musicians, to ensure unencumbered interaction. This intimate concert setting can also be regarded as a visual installation, including moving images by Boris Tellegen and Geert Jan Mulder.

Spoken word is the bedrock of Rozalie Hirs’ new cycle dreams of airs (2017-18). The completed work will fully integrate music and poetry in various forms. The text is at times a conveyor of meaning, at times it serves as pure sound poetry. The instruments emulate the speaking voice. First they shadow it, to then take up an autonomous role in constant dialogue with each other and with the voice. The composer-poet has performed her own poetry since 1991 and has developed an inimitable elocution style down the years. Hirs refers to the underlying, intrinsically musical, structure of language as the longing of language. In the poetry cycle long at present longing in her fifth poetry book gestamelde werken (Amsterdam: Querido, 2012) Hirs uncovers this phenomenon through Markov chain analysis, a mathematical statistical model revealing the underlying patterns within any structure.

Like the musicians, the listeners are seated around the room so they can more easily relate to the players and their physical gestures via the process of automatic imitation; a staple of everyday communication due to the mirror neurons that are constantly firing in our brains. This phenomenon, which we associate with empathy, reinforces the notion of the listeners that they understand the music and words ‘from within’. The moving images provide an additional visual connection between performers and audience.

Everyone has two ears but only a few people are aware of the fascinating universe hidden behind those auditory canals. For example, binaural beats are created when our left and right ears simultaneously hear two specific tones that differ only slightly in frequency, causing the brain to generate an illusory pulse. Specific frequencies produce brainwaves that match certain mental states such as waking, sleeping, focusing, learning, dreaming or meditation. Rozalie Hirs’ new work activates binaural beats that correspond to patterns that we associate with, for example, lucid dreaming and creativity. The binaural beatings create flow and help listeners to be in the moment. A plethora of binaural beats to which many beneficial characteristics are attributed can be found online. Binaural beats are known to aid sleep and increase one’s energy, motivation, and IQ. Come, listen, and experience for yourself what it does to you!

©2017 Rozalie Hirs

In the press

And also here Nora Fischer takes the audience by the hand along the colourful words drawn out by Rozalie Hirs, reinforced with binaural beatings. With these beatings Rozalie Hirs seeks to evoke brain waves that bring us into a meditative state. She must be doing a pretty good job, because I have rarely encountered such a breathlessly listening audience.
Ronald Rijken: Rozalie Hirs’ klankwereld van de binaural beats, Klankgat online, 12 november 2018.

Dreams of Airs is a complex piece of art, and very beautifully performed. In addition, it is also highly effective, for me any case. I feel clear and very energized.
Ronald Rijken: Rozalie Hirs’ klankwereld van de binaural beats, Klankgat online, 12 november 2018.

Interview

A song it no longer poetry, it is music
Thea Derks

Rozalie Hirs (1965) is multi-talented. She has made a name for herself as a poet and as a composer. For her cycle dreams of airs she wrote the poems as well as the instrumental and electronic music. The cycle is inspired by the physical phenomenon of binaural beating: when your left and right ears are offered two almost identical tones, your brain creates a third (phantom) tone that consists of the difference in frequency between the two. When the frequency differences are small enough, the resulting tone, perceived as a beating, may evoke different moods and states of mind. Dreams of Airs was premiered in November Music, Den Bosch, The Netherlands, in 2018, and will be again performed in TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, on Sunday 6 January 2019.

Hirs was born in Gouda and studied chemical engineering at the University of Twente and composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, with, among others, Louis Andriessen. In New York she continued her studies with the French spectralist Tristan Murail at Columbia University. In 2007 she obtained her ‘Doctor of Musical Arts’ title (DMA) with a dissertation on spectral composition techniques and the composition Platonic ID.

She has written six Dutch collections of poems, all published by the Dutch renowned publisher Singeluitgeverijen|Querido, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She also writes in English and German, and in 2017 her multilingual collection gestammelte werke was published by the German KOOKbooks, Berlin. Her poetry and music are both lyrical and innovative. She often combines traditional instruments with electronic sounds and collaborates with visual artists and graphic designers. Though Hirs regularly performs her own poems, whether or not embedded in music, dreams of airs is her first concert-length poetry and music cycle.

Where does the title come from? What does it mean?

The working title for the cycle was dreams of breathing, because breath, and air for that matter, are at the very basis of our existence and communication, our voice’s uttering of words. Air is also the archaic English word for song or melody, so the title also means ‘dreams of melodies’. For me, this alludes to melodies of speech, including the phrasing of sentences, text, and rhythm. For me, a song is no longer poetry, it has become music because of the composer’s interpretation, shaping his or her reading experience into music. With spoken language one stays closer to the original poetry, and its implied melody of speech. One still hears the inner melody and rhythm of language, which have not yet become singing.

This time you do not read the poems yourself; the voice part is performed by Nora Fischer.

In the past thirty years I have been performing poetry, while gradually developing my own characteristic speech melody. It has taken me years to translate this typical intonation and speech rhythm into a meaningful notation, so my pieces can be performed by others as well, even when I am not around. Interestingly, during the premiere my mother constantly had the feeling that I was on stage myself, meaning that the notation, indeed, had captured some of the essence of my speech melody.

The speech melody, the rhythm and the intonation are all fully composed and notated, aren’t they?

Yes, but because aimed for a natural kind of speech, I didn’t want to force Nora to imitate the exact register of my voice. So I indicated the pitches with crosses; she simply follows the resulting contour – or Gestalt – in tune with the music, yet may transpose it to match the central fundamental pitches characterizing her own voice. The result sounds natural and simple, but at the same time the speech melody is very specific, because its conception of tonality matches the harmonies present, as well as the phrasing, implied by the sentences, and breathing. All pitches are connected to each other through spectral harmonies, whose central gravities are in a constant flux of transformation. The dreaming in the title refers not only to the meditative, contemplative way in which the poems are expressed, but also to their associative, fleeting content and the way they are treated musically.

Some of the poems are in Dutch, and there are also German and English poems?

Yes, I see dreams of airs as a manifesto for Europe, and the world, for expressing oneself in different languages as a first step towards communication. It is humanistic and idealistic, it is about the freedom of the imagination, about inner seeing and hearing from the individual’s perspective. You can reach out to another person by the attempt to speak their language. This includes not only the speech melody and meaning, but also the mere sounds themselves.

The multilingual libretto begins with an emerging day and ends with a kind of apotheosis, a philosophical reflection on love, based on a book by Erasmus. The binaural beatings serve as to induce a continually changing sound space, bringing the listener into several subsequent states of mind. The left and right loudspeakers produce slightly different tones, resulting in highly spatialized sounds. In my piece I use this electronically induced spatial effect as well as concrete beating pulses. In reaction to this, as scientific research has led us to believe, your brain might create its own inner binaural beatings with frequencies related to different states of mind such as meditation, alertness, creativity, dreams, or flow.

The full ensemble plays during three out of seven movements. Furthermore, an instrumental trio, and several movements with solo voice with soundtrack are part of the cycle.

I started the piece from the fifth movement, infinity stairs, a trio with electronic sounds, scored for flute, bass clarinet, electric guitar. In this trio, composed in 2014, the separate parts also may function as solo pieces, and can be played separately. Infinity stairs is the only movement of the cycle in which the voice doesn’t participate, so the listener gets some semantic rest. The trio revolves around ascending and descending lines, just like the infinitely ascending and descending steps in one of the famous etchings of Maurits Escher. I have tried to translate this optical illusion into an auditory illusion, along with large glissandi and the binaural beating effect I mentioned before.

The other movements were shaped around this center piece?

Yes, the cycle opens with spinning languages, evoking daybreak: bird twittering, a flute solo, followed by solo voice. In the second movement, golden vielleicht, the voice performs together with a few other instruments. The third, who put on my shoes, is a tutti movement, a hyper-lyrical journey through nature, as well as an encounter with death; it serves as an ode to life, the imagination, and independence, my Alice in Wonderland so to speak. The fourth movement at present longing, composed for solo voice with soundtrack, is based on a poem about the urgency of longing and physical desire. The tutti movement waves is about a bottle nose dolphin swimming in the sea. The concluding movement here and nowness is an ode to love, in which all instruments blend together with the voice’s urgent speech in a kind of spectral minimalism.

In essence, dreams of airs can be regarded as one big daydream about the imagination, and how language arises, while speaking, feeling-thinking, dreaming.

©2019 Thea Derks, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 4 January 2019 (this English translation was revised and expanded by the composer on 1 October 2019).
Download [Dutch; PDF] program notes by Thea Derks

Technical details

commission
dreams of airs (2017-18) was commissioned by Stichting Iris or Hazel, with financial support by the Netherlands Foundation for the Performing Arts.

instrumentation
voice
flute
Bb clarinet & bass clarinet
percussion
electric guitar
piano
violin
viola
cello

a MIDI pedal for triggering the electronic sounds, to be played by one of the musicians, and laptop

duration
60′ ca.

publisher
Deuss Music

further technical requirements
1.) QLAB software, to be installed on the above mentioned laptop
2.) The ‘dreams of airs’ QLAB sampler, to be obtained through Deuss Music.
3.) Microphone and stand for the voice
4.) Amplifier and mixer in the concert hall
5.) Stereo loudspeakers, to be placed within the ensemble
6.) Optional amplification of the ensemble (i.e. microphones, cables)

Performances

6 January 2019, 20:00, Rozalie Hirs (portrait concert): Dreams of Airs, Avontuurlijke Muziek Series, Tivoli|Vredenburg/ Hertz Hall, Utrecht, The Netherlands – Spectra Ensemble, Filip Rathé (conductor), Nora Fischer (voice)

10 November 2018, 19:00, Rozalie Hirs (portrait concert): Dreams of Airs, November Music, Willem Twee Concertzaal FKA De Toonzaal, Prins Bernhardstraat 4-6, 5211 HE Den Bosch, The Netherlands – Spectra Ensemble, Filip Rathé (conductor), Nora Fischer (voice) – world premiere


2019/01/06

Dreams of Airs (2017-18), Vredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands

On 6 January 2019 20:00 at Tivoli|Vredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, the Belgian SPECTRA Ensemble, Nora Fischer (soprano), and Filip Rathé (conductor) perform a new work by Rozalie Hirs. The concert is part of the Avontuurlijke Muziek Series.

Dreams of Airs (2017-18) is a cycle of poetry and music by Rozalie Hirs. Its sound world features eight musicians, a singer who speaks, and electronic sounds. The visual artists Boris Tellegen and Geert Jan Mulder designed a live video installation for the performance. The duration of the performance is around 60 minutes. The concert performance is concluded with an interview by Thea Derks, music journalist.

Thanks to the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund and the Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industry for financial support. Thanks to MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Maison Dora Maar for their generous and indispensable residencies and fellowships. With special thanks to Johan Reyniers (dramaturgical advice), Martín Mayo (amanuensis), and Greet Swinnen (production).

Rozalie Hirs – music (score, electronic sounds), poetry
Boris Tellegen, Geert Jan Mulder – image

Filip Rathé – conductor
Nora Fischer – voice
Tille Van Gastel – flute
Cedric De Bruycker – clarinets
Frank Van Eycken – percussion
Jona Kesteleyn – electric guitar
Gabi Sultana – piano
Pieter Jansen – violin
Bram Bossier – viola
Peter Devos – cello
Quentin Meurisse – sound diffusion

The score of dreams of airs (2017-18) by Rozalie Hirs is published by Deuss Music, The Hague, The Netherlands.


2019/01/04

Dreams of airs (2017-18) – invitation

Happy new year!

I herewith cordially invite you to the performance of the recent evening-length cycle Dreams of Airs (2017-18) this Sunday 6 January 2019 20:00 at TivoliVredenburg (Hertz Hall), Utrecht, The Netherlands. The Belgian SPECTRA Ensemble, Nora Fischer (soprano), and Filip Rathé (conductor) perform the new work as part of the Avontuurlijke Muziek Series. The concert performance is concluded with an interview by Thea Derks, music journalist. It would be great to see you there and kick off the new year together – welcome!

Dreams of Airs (2017-18) is a cycle of poetry and music by Rozalie Hirs. Its sound world features eight musicians, a singer who speaks, and electronic sounds. The visual artists Boris Tellegen and Geert Jan Mulder designed a live video installation for the performance. The duration of the performance is around 60 minutes.

Thanks to the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund and the Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industry for financial support. Thanks to MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Maison Dora Maar for their generous and indispensable residencies and fellowships. With special thanks to Johan Reyniers (dramaturgical advice), Martín Mayo (amanuensis), and Greet Swinnen (production).

Rozalie Hirs – music (score, electronic sounds), poetry
Boris Tellegen, Geert Jan Mulder – image

Filip Rathé – conductor
Nora Fischer – voice
Tille Van Gastel – flute
Cedric De Bruycker – clarinets
Frank Van Eycken – percussion
Jona Kesteleyn – electric guitar
Gabi Sultana – piano
Pieter Jansen – violin
Bram Bossier – viola
Peter Devos – cello
Quentin Meurisse – sound diffusion

The score of dreams of airs (2017-18) by Rozalie Hirs is published by Deuss Music, The Hague, The Netherlands.


2018/11/10

Dreams of Airs (2017-18), November Music – world premiere

On Saturday 10 November 2018 at 19:00 CET the Belgian SPECTRA Ensemble, Nora Fischer (soprano), and Filip Rathé (conductor) perform the world premiere of Dreams of Airs (2017-18) by Rozalie Hirs during the contemporary music festival November Music, Den Bosch, The Netherlands.

Dreams of Airs (2017-18) is a cycle of poetry and music by Rozalie Hirs. Its sound world features eight musicians, a singer who speaks, and electronic sounds. The visual artists Boris Tellegen and Geert Jan Mulder designed a live video installation for the performance. The duration of the performance is around 60 minutes.

Thanks to the Netherlands Performing Arts Fund and the Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industry for financial support. Thanks to MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Maison Dora Maar for their generous and indispensable residencies and fellowships. With special thanks to Johan Reyniers (dramaturgical advice), Martín Mayo (amanuensis), and Greet Swinnen (production).

Rozalie Hirs – music (score, electronic sounds), poetry
Boris Tellegen, Geert Jan Mulder – image

Filip Rathé – conductor
Nora Fischer – voice
Tille Van Gastel – flute
Cedric De Bruycker – clarinets
Frank Van Eycken – percussion
Jona Kesteleyn – electric guitar
Gabi Sultana – piano
Pieter Jansen – violin
Bram Bossier – viola
Peter Devos – cello
Quentin Meurisse – sound diffusion

The score of dreams of airs (2017-18) by Rozalie Hirs is published by Deuss Music, The Hague, The Netherlands.


2017/08/11

At MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire

Feeling grateful for the quiet composing surroundings of MacDowell Colony these weeks. It made me realize to have never experienced the real surround sound of rain or rustling leaves to this extend. At night. During work in a house with windows opening in all directions, and surrounded by trees only. With just chickens and solar panels in the distance.

This little house in the woods, the Delta Omicron Studio, was originally built in 1927 and has recently been completely stripped, insulated, and renovated. It looks like a house from a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Also, Willard Pond is like a dream for a city creature like me. We swam across to the other side to pick a few wild blueberries.

And yes, as deadlines are approaching, I find myself working on finishing a chamber composition for Concertgebouw Orchestra (first performances: Science Park, Amsterdam, 7 October; Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 19 October). A Dutch poetry manuscript for my publisher Querido, Amsterdam (publication date: 5 December 2017). And piano pieces for Philip Thomas (first performance: November Music, Den Bosch, 12 November 2017). Feeling grateful to be finding new music and poetry here and now.

Will be showing new sketches and musical works, as well as reading poetry, during my open studio this Sunday. Delta Omicron Studio, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire. Sunday 13 August 2017 2-5PM. Welcome!


2017/08/07

Composer-in-Residence at MacDowell

From 7 August until 7 September 2017 Rozalie Hirs is Composer-in-Residence at the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, the oldest artist colony in the United States, founded in 1907. During her time at MacDowell she will be working on new compositions and poems. The picture below shows the founder Marian McDowell.


2017/05/08

At Saratoga Springs

Delighted to be finding myself in the dreamlike landscape of Yaddo at Saratoga Springs, upstate New York, land of the Mohawk Indians. It has been a week of vivid dreams, new ideas, and of interesting conversations with fellow artists over dinner. Enjoying the freedom of a paperless and phoneless existence outside and an eternity within my ‘tollhouse’ in close proximity to ponds, trees, deers. The photograph on the left shows the view from my window.

The photograph below shows a detail of the work ‘Current’ (1964) by Bridget Riley (1931), seen at MOMA’s Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction last week. Loved it.

Addendum 22 December 2017: Feeling very happy and deeply honored to have been named the 2017 recipient of The Jane Adams Wait Residency. This residency was established in 1996 by The Adirondack Trust Company to honor the dedication and service of Jane Wait to The Corporation of Yaddo in support of a composer or choreographer.



Miranda Cuckson, Hilbert's Hotel, Jeroen Dera, Carl De Strycker, Logos, Doelenkwartet, De Doelen, Piet Gerbrandy, De Gids, Dichters in de Prinsentuin, Reinbert de Leeuw, Pulsars, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, article 5, Curved Space, Arbre généalogique, Eleanor Livingstone, Stanza Poetry Festival, David Kweksilber, Dutch Foundation for Literature, ロザリー ヒルス, Greenroom Players, Johan De Boose, Takao Hyakutome, Bianca Sistermans, Benjamin Thigpen, Ard Posthuma, ein tag, Marijke Hoogenboom, Mikhail Malt, Niels Bogaards, Clarence Barlow, Richard Ayres, Wim Henderickx, Nieuw Ensemble, Marco Stroppa, Joël Bons, Rosalie Hirsch, Lyrikline, Rosalie Hirs, Bert Van Herck, Rozalie Hirsch, Fixpoetry, ahora es una rosa, Cathy Van Eck, To the sun, Ernestine Stoop, Yauguru Books, hochroth verlag, Huygens-Fokker, Marc Reichow, Poëziecentrum, Edwin Fagel, Joep Stapel, Kars Persoon, Sonar Quartett, WDR, Margot Dijkgraaf, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Jean Thorel, Kulturkreis Heilbronn, Richard Baker, BCMG, 3 durch 3, Filip Rathé, James Fei, život mogućnosti, Olivier Messiaen, De Link, Attacca Productions, SPECTRA Ensemble, Henri Deluy, Zaterdagmatinee, Nora Fischer, Boris Tellegen, Geert Jan Mulder, Jaap Blonk, Etienne Siebens, Emilio Pomarico, Klangforum Wien, Musikfabrik, Jochem Valkenburg, lightclouds, 3durch3, Keiko Shichijo, Louis Andriessen, Ways of Space, Kunstempel, Katharina Rosenberger, Todd Moellenberg, UCSB, Gaudeamus, Laurens Ham, Harm van den Dorpel, Philip Thomas, On Tenderness, Donderdagavondserie, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Kaija Saariaho, philharmonie zuidnederland, Festival van Vlaanderen, Sound installation, Zephyrkwartet, Paul Craenen, Stefan Asbury, Marieke Franssen, Sound Forest, Ooteoote, Performing Arts Fund, Lichtende Drift, Daniel Cunin, Tristan Murail, Johannes Fischer, Slagwerk Den Haag, Klankenbos, Bas Wiegers, Sixxen, In LA, Gérard Grisey, Kim Andringa, Bridge of Babel, Friedrich Block, Sacro Monte, Infinity Stairs, dreams of airs, Venus, Platonic ID, Maison Van Doesburg, Curvices and Musicles, article 6, Nadir, article 8, Bert Palinckx, article 0, Book of Mirrors, Roseherte, Yvan Vander Sanden, Van Doesburg House, Meditations, article 1 to 3, OMTristan, article 4, OpenMusic, Bozzini Quartet, Concertgebouw Orchestra, parallel sea [to the lighthouse], Bauwien van der Meer, Jorinde Keesmaat, Holland Festival, The listening house, Remko Spaan, Luisterhuis, Interactive song cycle, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Cox & Grusenmeyer, Michaël Snitker, Daniela Seel, article 7, parallel world and sea, Arnold Marinissen, parallel world [breathing], Joost Baars, kookbooks, Wiek Hijmans, Casper Schipper, gestammelte werke, Family Tree, November Music, Zenit, Deuss Music, Curvices, Lucky Charm, Fie Schouten, Teaching, ASKO|Schönberg, gestamelde werken, Perdu, Geluksbrenger, Machiel Spaan, verdere bijzonderheden, Donemus Publishing, Uitgeverij Querido