Here is my last performance of the great piece Not I composed by Arthur Kampela. It was a non-official performance for pupils and teachers of the Bundesakademie für musikalische Jugendbildung Trossingen on March 2017. I was part of the teachers’ staff there. We worked 5 days long with teenagers on a chamber music program involving contemporary repertoire only. After the rehearsals and dinner, we – the teachers – used to show some more aspects about performing contemporary music. On that evening, it was my turn, I spoke about “theater and music” and played Arthur’s piece for that very select audience.
Every time I perform Not I it’s a tremendous experience delving into the complexity of Arthur’s music, where humour meets a deep sadness. In that process, I sort of find myself touching the edge of my personal insanity, which means that I have to mature both as a musician and a human being.
Here are the program notes written by A. Kampela for the premiere in Berlin in 2011:
“Not I for horn solo, player’s voice and light, is based on the homonymous play by Samuel Beckett. In it, an illuminated female mouth, isolated from the body appears on the darkened stage and transforms language in the true “visible” character. Beckett has also pointed out that it is the reminder of light in the dark which makes reality so chaotic. My intention was to create a similar cognitive twist where sound is seen not only in terms of its aural specificity but acquires a broader, quasi-synesthetic perspective. Heterogeneous materials like notes, voice, light and language are brought together in the temporal/compositional “blender” or continuum creating a true perceptual hybrid. That way it is possible to hear the timbristic displacement beyond the purely sonic or aural but isolated as a totality — as Language. Although the mouth emerges during the play as a vehicle of speech it lends itself to “self-mutilation” on the symbolic level since after a while it is seen as both: a sort of genitalia blabbing fearsomely its discourse and as an unstoppable anus, where language acquires an excremental urgency. Analogously, in my piece, I circumscribed the horn player in a darkened stage where the sound tries to “break out” beyond its spectrum to incorporate all that “sounds’/vibrates — even light — that incorporated and squeezed between the compositional sonic emissions gains an uncanny, excremental hue. The original piece was composed and dedicated to the French horn player Delphine Gauthier-Guiche.”