Belgian ensemble play concert with humour and live video


Nadar Ensemble, Marino Formenti

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The Belgian Nadar Ensemble’s adventurous young musicians have made a name for themselves at the cutting edge of music making. For this concert they collaborate with composers who use live video and sound editing as an integral part of their music. Stefan Prins devoted his piece Mirror Box Extensions to seven of the ensemble’s musicians and their virtual lookalikes on video. Accompanied by an intriguing video choreo­graphy, Bluff by Michael Beil/Thierry Bruehl is full of humour and melody. The third piece in the programme is Kloing! by festival focus composer Olga Neuwirth, a tragicomic duel between pianist Marino Formenti and a computer controlled Bösendorfer grand piano, complementing a programme hovering between the real and the virtual.

Please note: as part of this performance there will be video recordings of the audience as well. These recordings will be deleted immediately after the show.  


Programmabook Olga Neuwirth


Stefan Prins (1979)

Mirror Box Extensions (2014/15)

ensemble, live video and live electronics

Dutch premiere




Olga Neuwirth (1968)

Kloing! (2008)

Dutch premiere




Michael Beil (1963)/Thierry Bruehl (1968)

Bluff (2014/15)

scenic composition for ensemble with live video and audio

Dutch premiere

Festivalfocus: Olga Neuwirth

Although her music is not yet played often in the Netherlands, Olga Neuwirth is one of the leading international contemporary composers. Her innovative work combines influences from avant garde as well as popular cultures. Drawing on sources from literature, architecture, pop music and cartoons, she is a composer in tune with the modern world. The Holland Festival will stage her exceptional work in a special programme of concerts. 

Neuwirth is known for composing listening experiences, for example in her most recent major work, the acclaimed Le Encantadas, which will be performed at the Gashouder. This piece creates a great impact by the unusual spatial grouping of the performers. In her piece Kloing! a computer controlled Bösendorfer grand piano interacts with a pianist and video footage. In addition, the bassoon virtuoso Pascal Gallois will play her piece Torsion, written especially for him, and composition students from the Royal Conservatory will perform their interpretation of her music in one of their lunchtime concerts. Neuwirth will also be a guest at De kunst van het luisteren (The Art of Listening), an event where she will speak about the way we listen to music and the world around us. It’s a great opportunity to get better acquainted with one of the most exciting composers of our age.


Background information

Kloing! is a duel for piano and projected pianola by the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth. In this concert, Kloing! will feature alongside original scores by Stefan Prins and Michael Beil, both performed by the acclaimed Nadar Ensemble. In all three pieces, the musicians will confront their virtual counterparts, creating tension between the live event and what happens on the video screens – real versus virtual, man versus machine – and questioning the role of technology in modern society.

Referring to a musical hammer blow, Kloing! is an apt description of Olga Neuwirth's music: firm, overwhelming, and never dull. In Kloing! she displays her love of combining live music with imagery and recorded sound, creating a confrontation between old and new, avant-garde music. The central part of Kloing! is a virtuoso piano piece performed by Marino Formenti. The Bösendorfer grand piano Formenti plays is computer controlled, frequently following its own course. On the screen, the audience see and hear recordings of a special Welte-Mignon pianola, as well as famous piano players from the past and even a Tom and Jerry cartoon featuring a piano. Now and then Formenti's live performance is projected as well. Combining nineteenth-century piano virtuosity with modern-day avant-garde artistry, the score is a musical representation of the seismic vibrations produced by the 2004 tsunami. Neuwirth created this representation and programmed the Bösendorfer with the help of Peter Plessas and Gerhard Eckel of the Graz Institut für Elektronische Musik. 

Prior to Kloing!, the Nadar Ensemble will perform Stefan Prins's Mirror Box Extensions. The title of Prins's piece refers to a form of therapy for amputees who suffer from phantom pain sensations, in which mirrors are used to give the amputees the impression they still have their lost limbs. Prins uses this metaphor to explore the twilight zone between physical and virtual reality. In Mirror Box Extensions, he shows us a vision of people with multiple guises, making it impossible to know what is real, recorded, original or manipulated. Tangible reality and its virtual mirror image become intertwined in a constantly expanding labyrinth from which not even the audience can escape. The musicians are projected on multiple screens, creating a myriad of different visual layers and perspectives. 

The concert concludes with Bluff, by composer Michael Beil and director Thierry Bruehl. Beil and Bruehl stage a 'theatre of everyday (self)deception'. The musicians' actions suggest unspoken expectations, tensions, confusion and (self)doubt. Once again, projections and recorded sound play a central role. 

Together, Kloing!, Mirror Box Extensions and Bluff offer a fascinating exploration of the boundaries between music and theatre, image and sound, reality and appearance. 



In her home country, the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth (1968) is seen as the enfant terrible of the avant-garde. From 1985 until 1993 she studied in San Francisco (composition, film and fine art), at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna and at the Paris IRCAM institute for electronic music. 

Neuwirth's music is characterised by a fascination for sound, which she developed listening to the spectral music of her teacher Tristan Murail and the late works by Luigi Nono. In her musical universe, avant-garde music is frequently interspersed with elements from popular music and radio-play-like recordings. She also tends to include references to film, literature and architecture. Neuwirth had her international breakthrough in 1991 at the Wiener Festwochen, where she presented a series of mini operas based on texts by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Elfriede Jelinek. Together with Jelinek she also developed Lost Highway (2003), a total theatre experience with recorded video imagery, based on David Lynch's eponymous 1997 film. In 2011, Neuwirth and Jelinek teamed up again for American Lulu, an adaptation of Alban Berg's opera Lulu with a distinctly jazzy score written by Neuwirth. As well as works for music theatre, Neuwirth also likes writing chamber music and solo pieces, invariably combining their live performance with video or sound, as evidenced in her work Torsion (2003) for bassoon and tape. Neuwirth has won several music awards. In 2010 she was the first woman to receive the Grand Austrian State Prize. 

Italian pianist and conductor Marino Formenti (1965) has been described by the LA Times as 'the Glenn Gould of the 21st century (…) a visionary for whom the usual limitations of either technique or tradition are not an issue.' As a pianist, Formenti is a famous interpreter of contemporary classical music, having worked with great composers such as Helmut Lachenmann, György Kurtág and Salvatore Sciarrino. Formenti has a love for combining old and new music, as he did in his programme Kurtág's Ghosts and on his recent CD Liszt Inspections, which highlights the similarities between Liszt and 21st century avant-garde music. Another of his passions is devising and performing in alternative concert formats, such as his Nowhere project which he performed, amongst others, at Steirischer HerbstGraz and at the Brussels Performatik Festival. This project saw Formenti performing a piano marathon stretching for several days while being filmed continuously, thereby blurring the boundaries between art and life. Since 2010, he has also been performing as a conductor. Formenti regularly performs at various international festivals, including Salzburg and Luzern, as well as at major concert halls worldwide, including in Berlin, Vienna, Rome, New York and Tokyo. As a soloist he has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Gustav Mahler chamber orchestra and Europe's major radio orchestras. In 2009 Formenti received the Forberg-Schneider Foundation's Belmont Prize for contemporary music. 

The Belgian Nadar Ensemble was founded in 2006 by a group of young musicians sharing a passion for contemporary music. The name 'Nadar' is taken from the pseudonym of cartoonist, spy and art critic Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), who was famous for his many talents and his adventurous spirit. The Nadar Ensemble has performed at a variety of leading festivals and concert venues in their native Belgium as well as abroad. These include Muziekcentrum De Bijloke Gent, TRANSIT Festival for New Music in Louvain, the Internationale Ferienkurse für neue Musik Darmstadt (2010, 2012, 2014), SWR's Donaueschinger Musiktage (2012, 2015) and the Forum Neue Musik Deutschlandradio. The Nadar Ensemble predominantly play work by contemporary composers, often written especially for the ensemble. In their performances they tend to create a strong connection between music, theatre and visual art. Recent successes include their performance of Recht (2015), a music theatre performance by Hannes Seidl and Daniël Kötter staged in Frankfurt, Ghent, Berlin, Zagreb and Mannheim; and Dead Serious (2014, Darmstadt), a collaboration with American-Iraqi media artist Wafaa Bilal. The Nadar Ensemble have recorded on NEOS, Migrorecords, Sub Rosa and Wergo. In 2016 they're releasing an exclusive album to mark their tenth anniversary. 



Mirror Box Extensions
Stefan Prins
performed by
Nadar Ensemble
Marieke Berendsen, Stefan Prins
Kobe Wens
Marieke Berendsen
SWR Donaueschinger Musiktage, Muziekcentrum De Bijloke Gent
Olga Neuwirth
Marino Formenti
sound direction
Peter Plessas
sonification advice
Gerhard Eckel (IEM Graz)
with support by
FiEMA en IEM Graz
with thanks to
music, live video
Michael Beil
dramaturgy, stage direction
Thierry Bruehl
performed by
Nadar Ensemble
SWR Donaueschinger Musiktage, Muziekcentrum De Bijloke Gent
Nadar Ensemble
Marieke Berendsen
video software
Culture Crew (Vincent Jacobs)
managing director
Rebecca Diependaele
Katrien Gaelens
Yves Goemaere
sound, electronics
Wannes Gonnissen
cello, artistic direction
Pieter Matthynssens
Elisa Medinila
trombone, stage manager, production
Thomas Moore
stage manager
Johannes Vochten
artistic direction
Stefan Prins
Bertel Schollaert
Dries Tack
Kobe Van Cauwenberghe