First time spending time in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. In an unusually heated summer Lugano for us was a boiler, stifling and hot most of the time with a searing sun above, especially past the train station, up the hill, around our temporary abode and the conservatorio. Occasional thunderstorms were a treat, during which the nights cooled down just enough for us to sleep a good, sound few hours. What’s desired weren’t alcohol of any sort, but bitters and chinotto and Rivella and fizzante, served in glasses over ice. Pasta became a nightmare for its sleep-inducing virtue, and we were served precisely that at every single lunch, good old white carbs fed to us as if we were at an old-school canteen, with color-coded meal tickets and all. Ticino Musica’s second edition of composers’ workshop proceeded on like this, in full summer heat and in carb-effectuated siesta perfuming the early afternoon lectures. The artistic director and the guest composer, Oscar Bianchi and Bernhard Gander, amazed us by their persistence and energy; they were always there, always ready to support and give consults. Otherwise, the composer pinched herself; the composer persevered; the composer drowned herself in endless coffees and teas; the composer, however, always woke up by the evening breeze of the lake and the cool ambrosia served on rock with a slice of lemon!
Despite all that, the highlights of the festival for the composer were the two concerts with the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, one at the Museo Vincenzo Vela in Ligornetto and the other at the LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura), both took place at the end of July.
It was an honor working with the renowned Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, the vocal ensemble for contemporary music today. Prior to my arrival at the festival I had composed a piece for three vocalists (high soprano, mezzo-soprano, bass), Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018), for the ensemble. Meanwhile, developed on-site in a collaborative, lab-like manner, along with the dancers from the Ticino in Danza (collaboration assisted by choreographer Katja Vaghi), were my 5-min miniature HUMANITY : a miniature (2018) for lyric soprano, countertenor, and three dancers.
Coro (sur un terrain inconnu) (2018) is an 8.5-minute poetry for voices that unassumingly aestheticizes the kinetic motions of preys silencing themselves upon the arrival of a silent, presumed predator and of the said predator, presumably silent, music-ing unwittingly merely by its moving about. It’s a music that can be perceived by sound and by sound and sight both, as the movements of the singers connote yet another screen for dramatic perception, while the music along in sound suggests spatiality and situations. On the other hand, HUMANITY : a miniature (2018) is and was meant to be a project of the absurd and subtle confrontation. Camus’s Sisyphus, beautiful acoustic jargons of contemporary music, Rick Astley, bride of God, and a series of aborted vocalising from a banal K-pop song were scrambled together by the composer, mildly deranged by the heat, to bluntly and rudely smile-toothily at the elegant audience of the Museo Vincenzo Vela.
Working with the vocalists of Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart was a fruitful, insightful experience, and the dancers of Ticino in Danza were simply marvelous! All these I will take with me in my future creations and processes — the inspirations that will help shape what I do as both a composer and an artist!