Aware (Fantasy for Clarinet, Speaker, and Orchestra)

for clarinet, speaker, and orchestra/chamber orchestra

Commissioned by the Bundesbeauftragte für Kultur und Medien, with help from the Berkeley Symphony, the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, the Future of Orchestral Culture Stiftung, the Family of Erich Fried, and the Goethe Institute in San Francisco.

Version 2. For Bb Clarinet and Small Orchestra

To what degree can we truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes? Can we really understand a plight through which we ourselves have not gone? With every impression of my fingers on the piano, with every note that was worthy of being written down to realize “AWARE”, I had to contend with these questions. Erich Fried’s words, though, transcend individual circumstance. We’re all capable of love and hope and fear, regardless of the situation that has brought them forth.

My compositional process is often spent trying to compose as objectively as possible, but Erich Fried’s poems “Fear of Fear” and “Prayer at Night” resonated too deeply with me for objectivity. I wrote “AWARE” as though I were the ghost writer of Fried’s autobiography, taking pains to extend the reach of my own empathy to ensure that I respect his memory to the fullest while paying homage.

The disquiet I felt while composing this piece is palpable. Time’s punishing persistence is evoked through our Clarinetist and Percussionists, while the remainder of the ensemble slowly builds a sense of ubiquitous human anxiety, washing over the audience, and ultimately disintegrating, as though it had never even been. The soloist plays the role of a cantor speaking to an inattentive crowd, paralleling the feeling of impotence and isolation in a relentless world. Solitary by nature, the clarinet transforms its struggle into triumph, catalysing positive change in an adverse environment.

If one thing is to be taken away from listening to “AWARE”, it is that Erich Fried made himself vulnerable so that we may be brave. Let us do the same for our progeny.

Thoughts by Tristan Xavier Köster, words by Katie Lynn Köster

PERUSAL Score, including the poetry by Erich Fried, available  HERE. 

This piece was re-composed to be used as the finale of a interdisciplinary evening of Chamber music, orchestral music, music theater, and opera in Hamburg’s Resonanzraum.

Theresa von Halle, Regie

Bar Avni, musikalische Leitung

Pia Davila, Sopran

Florian Wugk, Tenor

Gregor Müller, Schauspiel

Roman Gerber, Klarinette

Amelie Hensel, Bühne & Kostüm

Mitglieder der Hamburger Symphoniker

Stipendiaten der Hochschule für Musik und Theater im Rahmen des Future of Orchestral Culture Fellowship

Das Projekt wird gefördert durch das BKM und HfMT.