When violists ring the bell…

September 13, 2018


Internationally-recognised composer and conductor Konstantia Gourzi has composed a set work for the ARD Competition 2018, Evening at the Window, after Marc Chagall’s picture of the same name. It will be premiered tomorrow at Munich's Prinzregententheater, when six contestants will play it. Until then, the content of the piece will remain a closely-guarded secret, but in this interview Konstantia Gourzi reveals a few details to Tabea Eppelein.

The set work for the ARD competition is for solo viola – but not exclusively. Some special bells are used in the first movement. How exactly do they sound, and what is the challenge for the perfomer?
The bells are tied to the player’s foot, and they have to play them at the same time as the music, without any stamping noises on the floor. Playing another instrument as well as the main one is not only a musical act for me. It is also a challenge, because you have to coordinate your physical balance as well as the spiritual balance of different sounds.

The piece comes from Chagall’s Evening at the Window. What inspired you about this painting for your composition, and how does this appear in the music?
I have liked Chagall since I was a child. What fascinates me is the weightlessness that he uses in most of his paintings. Although usually everything in the space appears crooked, the whole looks very unified, beautiful and harmonious. This is what I wanted to put into music, also by using the bells. In the picture, my eye happened to land on the rooster, the moon, the chimney and the couple. I have portrayed these in musical miniatures. Without a time limit for the length of the piece at the ARD Competition, I would have composed many more miniatures. Maybe these will come later.

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