Contemporary Interventions in The Bumiller Collection

Anna Clementi, voice

works by John Cage, Gesualdo, Laurie Schwartz

The Bumiller Collection, Berlin

18. May 2017. In references both direct and indirect to FRAGMENTS FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL FUTURE,  ITINERANT INTERLUDE #68 presented three widely different perspectives on the idea of the fragment as manifest in contemporary musical composition and performance.

John Cage’s Song Books (Solos For Voice 3 – 92) (1970) explores a wide variety of notation systems and may be performed in any combination by any number of singers, as song, theater, with or without electronics or props. The score of Solo For Voice #77 consists of a series of numbers, of different sizes and fonts. The actual performance score was constructed by Clementi according to a strict set of instructions whereby a list of freely chosen “nouns” and “verbs” are converted through a numerical table provided by the composer and then inserted into the score to determine the actual sequence of the fragments. An elaborate scheme to insure that everything is determined by chance, without intent. The result is uncanny, a musical composition every time.

The performance of an extracted solo vocal line from a 16th century choral composition encapsulates a more literal comment on the idea of the fragment and, in the process, tosses yet another cultural reference into the mélange of ideas, objects and gestures at play in FRAGMENTS FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL FUTURE. Carlo Gesualdo’s madrigals are considered the epitome of Italian Renaissance vocal composition, and a source of fascination to this day in particular because of their radical harmonic inventiveness. Clementi performed phrases from the alto part of Gesualdo’s 5-voice madrigal Asciugate I begli occhi (“Dry your beautiful eyes”) (Book 5, Number XIV): random fragments in search of resonance with an imaginary choir.

Whereas works by Cage and Gesualdo serve as conceptual counterpoints to the exhibition, Laurie Schwartz’s the fragments (2017) was directly inspired by the extraordinary wealth of references and ideas unleashed by the works of Rebecca Raue and Steve Sabella in dialogue with the precious objects of The Bumiller Collection. the fragments distills FRAGMENTS FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL FUTURE into radically condensed gestures of sound, text, and movement that have been appropriated, cut-up, and re-mixed in references both explicit and oblique – as in the confluence of isolated Arabic and English text fragments intersecting through the centuries in this space, or in allusions to the rules of chess in the movement of the body through the gallery. Amid the swirl of historical, cultural, and musical references, the fragments – as a time-based work, in its very nature ephemeral – insists “I am here”, locating the body in the NOW, if only for a fleeting moment.

Swedish-Italian vocal artist and performer Anna Clementi spent her life between Stockholm and Rome where she studied flute, voice and acting. In 1985 she moved to Berlin where she began a long collaboration with Dieter Schnebel and his ensemble Die Maulwerker and quickly became a much sought-after performer in experimental music theater. Anna Clementi’s repertoire ranges from contemporary and electronic music to chanson, musical theater, and club music, with a special focus on the vocal and theatrical works of John Cage. Countless composers have dedicated works to her which she has premiered with leading ensembles at major international venues. She is a member and tours frequently with the renowned vocal ensemble Voxnova Italia and the duos Cuore di Vetro and Deviant Divas.