Last Saturday I had my first gig with my new model of Bohlen-Pierce soprano clarinet I got in March, customized by Stephen Fox to my special needs and wishes. Like in many cities in Germany, there is a Night of Museums once per year in Hamburg, with all the museums opened until 2 a.m., offering a huge variety of guided tours, exhibitions, lectures and other events. People have to buy only one ticket for all the events and museums and travel from museum to museum as they like it. One of the biggest museums in Hamburg is Hamburger Kunsthalle, and we were asked to present a program of Bohlen-Pierce music in the modern arts gallery (Galerie der Gegenwart).
My colleagues in this gig were my duopartner Ákos Hoffmann on second Bohlen-Pierce clarinet, pianist respectively synthesizer player Andrej Koroliov who has been Bohlen-Piercing since the BP clarinet’s European premiere in 2008 and flutist Arturo Raffaele Grolimund, an outstandingly creative musician who is in possession of the world’s sole Bohlen-Pierce pan flute which he presented in combination with new scales he found on the first Bohlen-Pierce symposium in Boston, MA in 2010. Furthermore, I was very happy that percussionist Sven Kacirek joined us for an improvisation and brought his experiences of African music to our other-worldly concert.
We started with Georg Hajdu’s Beyond the Horizon for two BP clarinets and synthesizer, a piece that is a good starting point to encounter Bohlen-Pierce music as it clearly shows the logical harmonicity of this macrotonal scale. The second piece was my solo version of The Bird People of St. Kilda by Manfred Stahnke which I made in preparation for the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition two years ago; an original duo for two BP clarinets which I transformed into a piece for one BP clarinet, fixed audio and live electronics. The improvisation for Bohlen-Pierce pan flute, Bohlen-Pierce soprano and tenor clarinet and percussion rounded the event.
Playing in front of an audience of new-art-lovers, I noticed a lot of curiosity and open-mindedness. People came to us after the recital to ask questions and express their appreciation. For me as an artist it is always a wonderful experience to catch people’s attentiveness and evoke their enthusiasm for something new. ″This sounds so intriguing″, a man from the audience asked, ″why is it not any wider spread? You just told that the scale was found as early as in 1972.″ Well, the answer is easy: There have hardly been any acoustic instruments displaying the scale until the first Bohlen-Pierce clarinets were made in 2007. Until then, Bohlen-Pierce was something for nerds who are obsessed not only with strange tunings, but also with computer music and programming languages such as Csound. Since we have the Bohlen-Pierce clarinets, the Bohlen-Pierce pan flute and, for instance, Ron Sword‘s Bohlen-Pierce guitars the tuning has become accessible for composers and musicians of all backgrounds who are willing to explore the aesthetic content of the scale.
For the rest of the night, I enjoyed the exhibitions in Galerie der Gegenwart, especially the fantastic inventions and constructions by Hungarian artist Attila Csörgő, such as his Peeled Spaces and the great project The Archimedian Point.
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