Absurdist-poetic 'ciné-concert'

Paper Music

William Kentridge, Philip Miller

Vaudeville, opera and film come together in this absurdist-poetic 'ciné-concert' by William Kentridge and composer Philip Miller – the creators of another production at this year's festival: The Head and the Load. Paper Music is the product of twenty-five-years of collaboration between Kentridge and Miller and connects several themes from their collaborative work. Expect a compelling work linking colonialism with various relativity theories and a monumental 'breathing machine'. The singers and voice artists Ann Masina and Joanna Dudley are equally impressive - mimicking the sounds of musical instruments, sirens and animals. There are silent animation films by Kentridge, as well as old, new, and live music by Miller. Each scene has a political and historical undercurrent. This is a recent highpoint in Kentridge's oeuvre.

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background information

‘Most children draw... I just forgot to stop!’ William Kentridge has an inimitable drawing style – seemingly nonchalant, but with a touching core. Politics, history and poetry come together in the work of the South African artist.

His trademark: animated movies based on charcoal and pen drawings, artworks which also form the basis of the production Paper Music (2014).

A panther, drawn in charcoal, prowls around the backdrop while two singers (Ann Masina and Joanna Dudley) and a pianist (Vincenzo Pasquariello) perform on the stage: with Paper Music, Kentridge has once again made a paean to the combination of music and image. Paper Music is a joint project between Kentridge and South African composer Philip Miller, whose collaboration begun 25 years ago. During this festival, their shared art can also be seen and heard on a larger scale in The Head & The Load (2018).

Paper Music brings together vaudeville, opera and film – the production is subtitled ‘ciné-concert’. With his aesthetic and theatrical instincts, Kentridge has created an absurd, poetic one-hour performance based on new and old footage. Kentridge cares deeply about the history and development of his home country, and the piece deals with politically controversial issues such as South Africa’s apartheid past, colonialism and the AIDS crisis.

Fragments from previous films by Kentridge are included in Paper Music. Miller has accompanied them in his trademark idiom, characterized by repetitive elements and a certain tenderness in the harmonies used. For some films, Miller rewrote existing material that he composed previously; he also created new music. The singers demonstrate the full breadth of their skill, imitating sirens, musical instruments and animal sounds.
One of the older pieces that form part of Paper Music is The Refusal of Time (2012). Kentridge: ‘The Refusal of Time was the first time I had worked with Ann Masina and with Joanna Dudley, and found the extraordinary combination between their voices, the music of Philip Miller, and the images that we were making in this essay on time and our relationship to destiny.’

The production also includes an entirely new suite of songs, also titled Paper Music, which brings together fragments of lectures that Kentridge has given. Texts and phrases from these lectures become the libretto of the songs, which paint a portrait of the political situation in Johannesburg in 2014. The music engages in a dialogue with footage of falling papers and pages being turned.

Film and music influence and reinforce each other. In Paper Music, Kentridge challenges the audience to listen to the image and look at the sound.

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biographies

William Kentridge (South Africa, 1955) is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions. His practice is born out of a cross-fertilisation between mediums and genres.


His work responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the context of South Africa's socio-political landscape. His aesthetics are drawn from the medium of film’s own history, from stop-motion animation to early special effects. Kentridge’s drawing, specifically the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and filmmaking practice, in which the meanings of his films are developed during the process of their making. His practice also incorporates his theatre training. Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen and the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s Lulu, and have been seen at opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera  (New York), La Scala  (Milan), English National Opera  (London), Opera de Lyon, De Nationale Opera (Amsterdam), and others. Summer 2017 saw the premiere of Kentridge’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck for the Salzburg Festival. The 5-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in 2012; since then it has been seen in cities around the world.  More Sweetly Play the Dance, an 8-channel video projection shown first in Eye Amsterdam in April 2015, and Notes Toward a Model Opera, a three-screen projection looking at the Chinese Cultural Revolution, made for an exhibition in Beijing in 2015; both have been presented in many other cities since. Kentridge’s ambitious yet ephemeral public art project for Rome Triumphs & Laments (a 500 m frieze of figure power-washed from pollution and bacterial growth on the walls of the Tiber River) opened in April 2016 with a performance of live music composed by Philip Miller and a procession of shadow figures. William Kentridge featured at the Holland Festival in 2010 with Telegrams from the Nose, in 2012 with Refuse the Hour and in 2014 with Winterreise. In 2015, he staged Alban Berg's Lulu with De Nationale Opera (Amsterdam). Kentridge is one of the Holland Festival’s two associate artists this year.

Philip Miller (b. 1964) is a South African composer based in Johannesburg. He first practiced law before establishing a career in music. His work is often developed from collaborative projects in theatre, film and video. One of his most significant collaborators is the internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge. His music to Kentridge’s animated films and multimedia installations has been heard in museums and galleries all over the world, including MoMA, SFMOMA, the Guggenheim Museums (both New York and Berlin), the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and the Tate Modern in London. Out of this collaboration, the live concert series Nine Drawings for Projection and Sounds from the Black Box has evolved, touring Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and the United States. In 2007, Miller conceived and composed Rewind, a Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony, an award-winning choral work based on the testimonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The cantata had its international debut in New York at the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival and has been performed at the Centre for Theatre and Dance at Williams College in Massachusetts, the Market Theatre in Johannesburg and the Royal Festival Hall in London. Other recent commissions include the sound installation BikoHausen: Steve Biko and Karlheinz Stockhausen in Johannesburg (2016) at Darmstadt Summer Music Festival, and his most recent collaboration with Thuthuka Sibisi, the sound installation The African Choir of 1891 Re-imagined, at Autograph ABP in London, the Apartheid Museum and the Iziko South African National Gallery (South Africa). He regularly composes film scores which have garnered him many awards, including an Emmy nomination for HBO’s The Girl (2012).

Joanna Dudley works internationally as a director, performer and singer creating music theatre, choreography and installation. She studied early and contemporary music at the Adelaide Conservatorium, Australia and the Sweelinck Conservatorium, The Netherlands. On scholarships she has also studied traditional Japanese music in Tokyo and traditional dance and music in Java.
In Berlin, Joanna worked as a guest director and performer at the Schaubühne. Works created there include My Dearest, My Fairest with Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola and colours may fade with Esnaola and Rufus Didwiszus. Other works in collaboration with Didwiszus include the solo music theatre piece, The Scorpionfish, Who Killed Cock Robin? with the Flemish vocal ensemble Capilla Flamenca and most recently LOUIS & BEBE with the electronic noise musician SchneiderTM. Joanna’s sound installation Tom’s Song for 32 music boxes and 16 LP players has given regular appearances at major international art festivals.

In long collaboration with William Kentridge and Philip Miller, Joanna features as a singer and performer in Refuse the Hour and Paper Music. William Kentridge invited Joanna to create a solo role for his opera production of Lulu. Together they co-created and Joanna performed The Guided Tour of the Exhibition: for Soprano and Handbag for the Foreign Affairs Festival in Berlin and the museum of the Martin Gropius Bau. Joanna developed her soloist role alongside William Kentridge for his ensemble piece The Head & The Load. She is a featured performer in the original cast that co-created and performed the large scale piece originally commissioned by MASS MoCA, 14-18 NOW for the Turbine Hall at TATE Modern, Ruhrtriennale and Park Avenue Armory in New York.
Other collaborators include Seiji Ozawa, les ballets C de la B, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Sasha Waltz, Heiner Goebbels, Thomas Ostermeier and Falk Richter. She has appeared extensively throughout the world including venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, Avignon Festival, Holland Festival, The Metropolitan Opera, BAM, Vienna Opera and Hong Kong Festival.

Ann Masina was born and raised in Ackerville, eMalahleni in the Mpumalanga Provinice of the Republic of South Africa. She did her schooling at Khonzimfundo Primary School and Greendale High School respectively. Ann started singing as a soloist in 1994 in the Africa Sings Choral Choir which served as an informal music institution where her music background was established. In 1999 she joined the Nick Malan Opera house (now the Cape Town Opera House) and performed operas such as Carmen and Aida. Ann is a co-founder of JOAT Opera Group (Jerry-Oupa-Ann-Tibane). In 2005-2009 she worked with choreographer Robyn Orlin in her productions Dressed to Kill, Venus, and Walking Next to our Shoes, and toured Europe extensively. From 2007-2009 she was member of the three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir. In 2014-2015, she performed in a musical called Colour Me Human produced by Steve Dyer and performed at the Soweto and Johannesburg Theatre. She has been part of William Kentridge’s workshops and productions since 2012, including Refuse The Hour, Paper Music, and Triumphs and Laments. Ann has also been part of The Centre for the Less Good Idea and performed Venus Hottentot vs Modernity with Lebogang Mashile, along with other productions for the first season. Ann is lead vocalist in William Kentrdige’s The Head & The Load which premiered at Tate Modern in London in 2018. In May 2019, this production will be showcased at the Holland Festival.

Vincenzo Pasquariello is an Italian musician and theatre actor. He’s descended from a family of musicians, including Gennaro Pasquariello, who was a famous singer in the early 1900s. His father, an orchestra conductor, taught him the first music lessons at the age of five, and he then continued his studies and graduated from Conservatorio G. Verdi of Milan under guidance of Bruno Canino. In the late 1990s, he was working in theatre as a pianist and composer for incidental music. It happened accidentally that he had to play a role in a performance, and afterward this became a more and more important activity. He has been present in several festivals and has performed in a lot of important theatre such as last year at Teatro Argentina of Rome, Teatro Biondo of Palermo, and Piccolo Teatro of Milan.

 

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Credits

video
William Kentridge
music
Philip Miller
costumes
Greta Goiris
costumes assistent
Eugénie Poste
performers
Joanna Dudley (voice), Ann Masina (voice), Vincenzo Pasquariello (piano)
technical coordinator
Michele Greco
coproduction
Tomorrowland, Firenze Suona Contemporanea, Lia Rumma Gallery (Naples and Milan, Italy), THE OFFICE