Antjie in Berlin - Parts 1 & 2
Premiere performance at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa, 03.07.12
"Antjie in Berlin" takes the audience on an aural journey based on a number of letters written by Antjie Krog while on a residency in Berlin and included in her recent book "Begging to be Black". Part sound installation, part concert performance, the composition builds on the music concealed within the spoken word, creating a space for reflection within a landscape of loudspeakers that take on a nearly sculptural aspect.
Recordings of Antjie Krog reading aloud the letters originally written to her mother, form the main point of departure for the piece. The letters themselves cover topics from simple descriptions of daily life in a foreign town to deeper reflections on global issues and moral questions. It is however the particular quality of Antjie Krog’s specifically South African voice that plays a crucial role in the composition. How much atmosphere does a voice carry with it and what kind of melodies does it contain? What kind of music could it lead to?
The speech melodies and rhythms of Antjie's distinctive readings are transformed into piano music, unfolded and commented on within a sound environment based on field recordings made in Berlin. Vocal fragments migrate from one end of the space to the other, bringing her voice close to the listeners and providing a counterpart to the piano performance - an exploration of the sense of both presence and distance that can characterize communication over long distances, of the movement between inner and outer worlds.
Antjie in Berlin comprises of seven sections - one for each of the letters selected from Begging to be Black, unfolded in chronological order - from her arrival in Berlin early October until a letter written late December.
This video covers the first two letters.