Text: Lev Kneller, Outreach student assistant
On Sunday, December 04, 2022, the Berliner Symphoniker (Berolina Orchester e.V.) played the concert “Luft & Wasser” (Air & Water) of the series Um-Welt-Klang in the concert hall of the Berlin University of the Arts (Universität der Künste). This is a collaboration project together with Berliner Symphoniker out of our Art&Science subproject. Science always searches for ways and means to reach as many people as possible. In this quest to fulfil its enlightening mission, the two Um-Welt-Klang concerts were created, so that musical pieces by artists of the 20th and 21st centuries meet scientific contributions from researchers in the fields of geoscience, climate science and environmental science in a new format.
The conductor Howard Griffiths opened the concert with the work “Four Sea Interludes” from the opera “Peter Gramms” ( OP. 33a) by the British composer Benjamin Britten. From the dusky, almost dangerous twilight (Dawn), the orchestra gently transitions to the versatile, charged, curious and at times joyous Sunday morning (Sunday Morning). Equally successful is the passage Moonlight and Storm, where the idyllic nightfall dissolves into a mighty storm. In the aftermath of the musical masterpiece, a no less turbulent topic began: Climate change. The Potsdam professor for climate change and sustainable development Dr. Jürgen P. Kropp began his presentation with a short film in which the history of earth is explained as an account in a social network. After the video clip he went on to discuss the current and future course of climate change, its consequences and possible solutions.
Now we come to the part where the Art&Science subproject of our TRR started: The work “Encoding Seas” by the young artist Víctor Ernesto Gutiérrez Cuiza (VíctorPiano) began with a repositioning of the orchestra. This piece, commissioned by TRR 181 “Energy transfers in Atmosphere and Ocean”, is based on oceanic measurement data from a 2016 research cruise and explores the senses of a machine in the ocean.
The multimedia composition was composed of three movements or poems. Thereby, the poetry is recited by a synthetic voice-off and describe the perception of the environment: the scanning of the radar, the drifting, as well as the loneliness and fear of the unknown in the deep ocean. Accompanied by the orchestra and the visuals, a space is created in which the machine shares its feelings with the audience. Those present experience an expansion of their human perception.
In this intense atmosphere the hydrologist Prof. Dr. Thorsten Wagener took the floor. With his presentation about droughts and floods he refers to the historical circumstances, current events and the necessity of new climate protection measures.
Last but not least, the concert concluded with the piece “The Sea” by Frank Bridge. The impressionistic piece describes the sea. Beginning with an idyllic sunrise at the sea (Seascape), it slowly transitions into the gently well (Sea Foam) to then unfold in a calm moonlit night (Moonlight) into a storm (Storm). The structural similarity of the master Frank Bridge and his student Benjamin Britten is hardly to be overlooked, the more strongly their differences and subtleties unfold in the perception of nature.
Hopefully we will find a way to present our TRR Symphony “Encoding Seas” at another function or even go on working on this piece. Thank you for everyone who made the journey to Berlin and listen to the sound of TRR :).