Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hanna Eimermacher: On Movement and Space

Hanna Eimermacher
Continuing our profiles of June in Buffalo faculty composers, we look at the music of Hanna Eimermacher.  Eimermacher has studied in Bremen, Graz, Frankfurt, and Buffalo, with Younghi Pagh-Paan, Beat Furrer, Pierluigi Billone, Mark Andre, and David Felder.  She has received a number of prestigious prizes and awards, including the Berlin-Rheinsberger Kompositionspreis (2012), a scholarship of the Deutsche Bundesregierung for Villa Massimo Rome (2014), and, most recently, a scholarship to study in Villa Concordia in Bamberg where she currently resides.  She has had works commissioned by SWR Südwestrundfunk, MaerzMusik Berliner Festspiele, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Frankfurt Opera, and has worked with new music ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Interface, Ensemble Moto Perpetuo, and Klangforum Wien, for whom she is currently composing a music theatre piece.

Much of Eimermacher's music focuses on, in the composer's words, "the relationship between ear and eye:  sound, light, movement, picture, and space."  For her, this stems from the observation that "composition includes all these elements and the deep connection between them."  Such ideas manifest in a variety of different ways.  For instance, Hommage an den Klimerkasten (2011) takes its influence from a sculpture by the Swiss surrealist/existentialist artist, Alberto Giacometti.  The piece examines the ways that the perception of space can be impacted by the articulation of sounds in the quietest dynamic ranges.  Such sonic subtlety requires extremes of focus on the part of both the audience and the performer—for whom the fragility of these sounds require significant instrumental skill—and such sounds will be perceived differently in different spaces, indeed, in different locations in the same space.  "The piano fixes the axis of the piece, leading the other instruments in relationships of contrast and fusion with the details of their sonorities."  Commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, the piece can be heard below in a performance by Ensemble Linea.

A related focus on space can be seen in Überall ist Wunderland, a large-ensemble work in which the twenty-three performers are positioned across a wide stage in a symmetrical manner.  The piece takes advantage of the spatial positioning to create canons and dialogues that move back-and-forth across the performance area.  When the performers are not playing, they stand still and stare forward in a statuesque manner, creating a ritualistic character to the overall performance (a factor most apparent during the final silence during which they all lean slightly toward stage right).  The work therefore explores the relationship between body, movement, and stage, and in a larger sense, between sound, location, and form.  (A live performance can be seen here.)

Audiences at June in Buffalo will hear the Slee Sinfonietta perform Eimermacher's Luftpost für L. (2012) for two 'celli and percussion, a work marked by even greater subtlety than the two pieces above, as soft 'cello oscillations encircle one another, occasionally undergirded by erratic bass drum pulses.  Ensemble Uusinta's program will feature two of the composer's works:  Transparenz (2003) for three percussionists playing glass bottles, accompanied by fixed media electronics; and Kannst du diesen verkehrt iegenden Vogel sehen? (2008) for bass flute and accordion.  Both works have a unique mix of innocence and sophistication—the former in the understated simplicity of their materials (most apparent in the delicate austerity of the bottle sounds in Transparenz), the latter in the way these materials are developed and incorporated into the composer's ongoing explorations of movement, space, and form.

We're looking forward to hearing not only Eimermacher's music, but also to hear her elaborate on these explorations during her lecture (June 9th, 10:00am).  Her perspective will be a valuable one to fellow composers and interested audiences alike.