The Sounds and Music of Open Space
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Blog post written by Jairo Geronymo, pianist, Berlin, Germany
For the past two years, I lived in Nuremberg and commuted to teach in Berlin. On the train during my four hour commute on a train traveling at 190 miles per hour, I wrote many blogs. Many were reflections on a concert or topic that concerned Berlin.
Two friends, a French conductor and a Spanish violinist, have queried why their respective countries are so fixated on their capitals. Barcelona offers some competition to Madrid’s hegemony, but Paris reigns supreme in France.
In contrast, Germany is strangely decentralized. Frankfurt is the economic center, Dusseldorf the fashion center, Munchen the Beer and Lifestyle center, and Berlin the government center. In terms of the arts, many cities like Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Berlin…and even Nuremberg offer varied cultural events.
Nuremberg enjoys a golden medieval past as an engineering, crafts and cultural center. It is the only city that has a Wagner opera written about its singing inhabitants.
Every summer in Nuremberg, there is a Festival called Blaue Nacht or Blue Night.This is a ‘happening’ type of event, where blue shades cover all the lights in the old city. Every art gallery, cinema, museum, church , school, university, and the castle presents t something related to the color blue throughout the night. Exploring a color, these events naturally favor the visual arts.
The Blue Night Festival spurred me to thinking, what about about a D Minor Festival?
Last year, the four-story high inner courtyard of a school was draped in blue fabric and white balloons, all backlit. The visitors were taken to a small platform in the center of this heavenly place and could talk through hanging minimalistic microphones to (supposedly) God. The space was very silent. I think that I should have asked God which type of music She listens in Heaven.
This year, there was a percussion concert with mostly marimbas that seemed like the perfect musicalization of the color blue. It occurred in a 14th century church (http://www.st-klara-nuernberg.de/), all lit in blue. The subtle sounds, so rarefied and hypnotizing, were truly dreamy. Bluey, not Bluesy.
2010 marks the 175th anniversary of the first Passenger Train in Germany, the Adler, connecting Furth and Nuremberg .
The Deutsche Bahn Museum in Nuremberg celebrated this event during the Blaue Nacht by commissioning a special work by a French ‘vertical’ Dance Theater Group called ‘Compagnie Les Passagers’ . They built a structure with a square canvas panel 40 feet tall. Artwork painted on this panel celebrated the Adler on which the performers would ‘walk’. The performers were hung from the top of this structure by cable attached to their waists. Through incredibly strong upper body muscles, they walked and danced on this hanging piece of Blue Art. When they jumped out of the canvas panel, the lack of horizontal gravity made them levitate effortlessly. It was like watching a ballet from above, without gravity.
I was astonished and amused by this technical ‘tour de force.’ But I was also impressed by the musical choices: French impressionist music. Afterwards, I could not have imagined anything else. The obvious is not always people’s first choice. Debussy, Ravel, and Satie were the perfect musical match for this simple, and yet extremely complex, performance. Impressionism was the first artistic movement of the 20th century to occur simultaneously in music and the visual arts--the marriage of hearing and vision. Blue and …
Since the 19th century, scholars have studied synesthesia, a ‘neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway’.
So before I start thinking seriously about the visual aspects of my D Minor Festival, I must ask you a question I hope you will answer in the comments section of this blog: which color would you paint your favorite piece of music?