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Stockhausen and more: new programmes from Astrid, Emma and Mathilde Wauters


Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Freude (“Joy”), for two harps, forms the second hour of the KLANG cycle. It was originally called “Pentecost”, but composing it made Stockhausen feel so joyful, he changed its title. It is an adventure in musical expression: alive with extended techniques, sound colours, vocalising and sacred texts. It is also an expression of idealism. Stockhausen later described how “Again and again [he] imagined the première in Milan Cathedral, the enthusiasm of the two girls, their playing, singing…there is something unique about the adventure of uniting two harps, which are normally tuned in diatonic scales, into one large chromatic harp.” Since its premier on June 7, 2006, Freude has entered the harp repertoire’s contemporary canon – in demonstration of how music is often about much more than music, for it is Freude‘s dramaturgy, its intricate layering of associations, which enthrals. The two harps are positioned like giant wings; the harpists are dressed in white; the constantly-surprising music entwines with the Pentecostal hymn to the Holy Spirit. “Pentecost”, mused Stockhausen further, “unites what was separated.” 

As with Pink Floyd in their experimental period (a comparison made by one Freude audience member not too long ago), programming Freude comes easier to concert promoters with an idea of what will happen. This isn’t possible from the score alone, so Camac France has been happy to join forces with Camac Belgium, and co-sponsor the realisation of Emma and Mathilde Wauters’s video introductions to the work. “Watching or performing Freude feels like going into a trance”, says Emma. “Our audiences describe a new experience of concentration when they listen, emotionally and intellectually stimulating in ways they’d never imagined. We hope our videos can give the beginnings of a sense of this.” 

We also sponsored the making of a second video, by Emma on harp and another sister, Astrid Wauters, on cello. Kalimat explores different world musics, and Emma explains: “We’ve put together pieces from different cultures, and perform them without breaks for applause and often accompanied by live electronics. Again, we want to take the audience on a journey, and create cohesion and unity in unexpected ways.”


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