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70 Years: 1946 – 2016
International Summer Course for New Music (29 July to 14 August 2016)


Music in the Expanded Field

Temporal whirl, temporal maelstrom – vortex temporum: the right metaphor for the opening concert of the 48th Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music in 2016, but also a fitting image for the eventful history of one of the most important platforms in the world for the music of our time. The Darmstadt Summer Course has existed for 70 years; it took place for the first time in 1946 at Kranichstein Hunting Lodge, before the gates of an utterly destroyed city. Seven decades of the Darmstadt Summer Course – which also means seven decades of shaping music history. The name of Darmstadt is associated with virtually all significant figures in contemporary music after 1945, as well as the aesthetic debates and sometimes vehement controversies about the present and future of composition.


When Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s version of Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum opens the 2016 Darmstadt Summer Course, it will mark the first time that the choreographer’s current object of success is being presented at a music festival at all: a breathtaking work for an ensemble of musicians and dancers, an almost hour-long artistic reflection on how time is compressed and unfolds in space, in order to grant an equal and independent status to the sounds, gestures, movements and the dynamics of the space in a choreographic counterpoint. Grisey was one of the most influential figures in the history of Darmstadt, and his piece Vortex Temporum (1996) is one of the landmarks of spectral music.


The contemporizing approach to recent music history that manifests itself in De Keersmaeker’s Vortex Temporum marks the starting point for a number of artistically highly diverse projects that all refer to the 70th anniversary of the course. The concern is not so much to celebrate what has been, but rather to offer artistic responses to Darmstadt’s history and also to the digital archive of the Darmstadt International Music Institute (IMD), which has been established extensively in the last few years. In the large-scale project historage – 7 places, 7 readings, for example, Ashley Fure (New York/Boston), Hanno Leichtmann (Berlin), Philip Miller (Cape Town), Aleksej Shmurak (Kiev), Nicolás Varchausky (Buenos Aires), Samson Young (Hong Kong) and the Distractfold Ensemble (Manchester) each develop individual readings of the digital course archive – from performances to sound/video installations and a “Call for Remixes.”


Multimedia composition has been thematized and discussed repeatedly in Darmstadt, and this year the motto “Music in the Expanded Field” will be at the center of the program, predominantly with new commissioned works in which performance, venue, light, sound motions, audience movements and many other factors combine to create a composite audiovisual experience. Annesley Black will conceive a form of reenactment of early electronic music production in Darmstadt. Lars Peter Hagen’s live installation Archive Feverwill take the archive as an object of aesthetic experience as its starting point and allow the activities of curating and composing to merge.


In her “opera for objects” The Force of Things, Ashley Fure (2014 Kranichstein Prize winner) combines instrumental and electroacoustic music, architectural design and theater to create musical-dramatic events where the activity is focused on objects. In a concert installation François Sarhan and ZWERM illuminate the meaning of the division of labor and specialization in the field of music. With The Lichtenberg Figures, Eva Reiter and Ictus open up a musical space of sometimes bizarrely concentrated acoustic and electronic, vocal and instrumental sounds that likewise have a counterpoint in the form of a scenographic concept.


Projects like Marko Ciciliani’s workshop about audiovisuality entitled “Music in the Expanded Field” or “Just Beyond Our Instruments Is the World” by Steven K. Takasugi and the young Ensemble Mocrep from Chicago continue a path that began at the 2014 Summer Course under the motto “Performing Matters.” Events following on from this are new works by Stefan Prins (PIANO HERO), the guitarist Nico Couck (“Polyptychon”) or Sasha Waltz & Guests (“UN/RUHE”). The closing project, a choreographic concert with Sash Waltz & Guests, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and the violinist Carolin Widmann, will round off the process that started with De Keersmaeker’s Vortex Temporum.  


At more than 65 public events, the 48th Darmstadt International Summer Course in 2016 will present some 40 premieres, including more than ten works commissioned especially for this year’s anniversary festival. The partnership with the Darmstadt State Theater, which extends back to the early days of the course, will also be reactivated when the house at the Büchnerplatz appears in the program as the venue for no less than two new productions: alongside KOMA, the new opera by Georg Friedrich Haas, works by the finalists of theInternational Music Theater Competition Darmstadt will also be presented.


On the theoretical side of things, the international conference EXCESS: Forum for Philosophy and Art (4 – 7 August 4 2016) will establish one of the course’s focuses: curated by Jörn Peter Hiekel, Dieter Mersch and Michael Rebhahn with the cooperation of Fahim Amir, EXCESS will feature international guests and examine questions such as the de-restriction of the arts (“Surpluses”), the “Political” and “Music as Philosophy.” The aim will be to show how compositional strategies are exemplary for reflection on contemporary culture.

A think tank on the topic of “Critique,” curated and led by Patrick Frank, will focus on fundamentalquestions about the self-image of New Music, starting from Darmstadt as one of its centers.


With over 60 tutors, the 2016 Darmstadt Summer Course will offer an extensive program of tuition and workshops, from classes in composition and various instrumental disciplines, via workshops at the “Atelier Elektronik” and a writing workshop for young music journalists, to experimental projects like a laboratory for new violin music with the violinist PatriciaKopatchinskaja and the composer/turntablist Jorge Sánchez-Chiong. Roughly 450 participants from some 50 nations will be expected in Darmstadt between 29 July and 14 August 2016.


Tickets for the concerts as well as the regularly-updated program can be found


Supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain, Jubilee Foundation of the Darmstadt Sparkasse, Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Allianz Kulturstiftung, Merck'sche Gesellschaft für Kunst und Wissenschaft
as well as many other supporters and sponsors


The IMD is a culture institute of the City of Darmstadt.

Earlier Event: June 29
Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp
Later Event: August 8
Cloud Polyphonies at Darmstadt

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