The Bench (1995) With Laetitia Sonami. This story takes place in a city square, depicting an episode in the lives of two street people, a man and a woman, as observed by a narrator who watches from her hotel balcony. Focusing in, the narrator begins to “hear” fragments from the minds of the lovers: The young man, once a classical pianist, now produces a hellish blues, which fuses with the courtyard’s musique concrète, with shards of his narcissistic dreams, and with dehydrated strings of the older woman’s distorted understanding. The narrator doesn’t move to interfere, yet she is compelled by what she witnesses: Is the woman rescuing or destroying the man?
The piano sequences were developed for Laetitia Sonami by Jerry Hunt at STEIM in Amsterdam (1990).
Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO.
MELODY SUMNER CARNAHAN (Santa Fe, NM) received an M.F.A. in writing from Mills College where she began working with composers, including Robert Ashley. The author of story collections, The Time Is Now and Thirteen (Burning Books), and a Tibetan man’s biography, In the Presence of My Enemies (Clear Light), she has published thirty works of fiction and essay in periodicals and anthologies including the San Francisco Chronicle and the City Lights Review. Experimental Intermedia Foundation commissioned a one-hour radio program featuring her collaborative works with composers, and other programs featuring her writing have been aired by KPFA, Berkeley, WEVL, Memphis, and CFUV in Victoria.
LAETITIA SONAMI (Oakland, CA) Originally from France where she studied with composer Eliane Radigue, Sonami moved to the U.S. in 1976, and has since been composing and performing live electronic solo works in numerous venues in the U.S. and abroad, including The Kitchen (NYC) and Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. For three years she was awarded residencies at STEIM in Amsterdam, where she developed and adapted new gestural controllers for musical performance and composed works with them. Her compositions have been recorded Imaginary Landscapes (Electra Nonesuch), Jewel Box (Tellus 26), and Another Coast (Music & Arts).
ELFRIEDE JELINEK, who has repeatedly reinvented herself, who, with almost everything she writes, creates a new genre and which will result in her never becoming an epigone, set out as an author with “pop”. She has always created new images of herself, has masked and unmasked herself, which again was simply a new disguise; and has often published this disguised character. So says Stefanie Carp from the Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. We somehow anticipate that we, too, speak and live in medial frames. We imagine ourselves as subjects merely as an idea, historic luggage or a wish. “Face your self-alienation” – who really likes to do that? But Jelinek, the author, hasn’t excluded herself from this postulation and has humiliated her author-subject, collectivated it into the alienated. The attempt to describe Robert Schumann by internalizing the person of the composer must fail. Quote: “The housekeepers came and left silently; nobody else is allowed here, nobody is allowed to talk when I’m writing. Even if I’m not writing, nobody except myself is allowed to talk.” Personal experiences and fictive history result in silence: “to be allowed to remain silent, for good; united with us.”
In this radiophonic piece, ERNST M. BINDER and JOSEF KLAMMER confront the failure of this analysis with a biographical text of the author Elfriede Jelinek which she has dedicated to her organ teacher Leopold Marksteiner. This text, “Die Zeit flieht“ (Time is fleeing) is read by the author and is the rhythmic, acoustic, and melodic basis of the counterpointing composition. Brief sequences of syllables, consonants, and vocals form an acoustic shape which sustains, supports, and makes “Das Schweigen“ (The muteness) sound. Essences from Clara Schumann’s “Piano Concert in A minor” are the acoustic counter pole, not only in a musical sense. The hommage to Elfriede Jelinek’s organ teacher Leopold Marksteiner “Die Zeit flieht” was read by the author herself. The voice in “Das Schweigen” and the musical miniatures were generated by means of language synthesis software. The excerpts from Jelinek’s speach on the occasion of the award of the Heinrich Heine Prize 2002, “Österreich. Ein deutsches Märchen”, were recited by Ernst M. Binder. The musical references are taken from “Träumerei”, Kinderszenen Op.15 by Robert Schumann and were processed by Josef Klammer.