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.
Original Version: For Bb Clarinet and 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.
Version 2. For Bb Clarinet and Small Orchestra
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.