Hans Thomalla - Harmoniemusik

November 19, 2021

The Contemporary Music Ensemble presents the US premiere of Harmoniemusik (full version) by Hans Thomalla, professor of composition and music technology and director of the school’s Institute for New Music. Alan Pierson, lecturer and co-director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducts.

Harmoniemusik was written during a period of both political as well as personal grief. It is the attempt to create a "happy place" for an hour, even though it can never entirely escape the experience that it tries to leave behind. "Harmoniemusik expresses an existential experience of sadness, but also a desire to overcome it," said composer Hans Thomalla, "trying to create a happy, joyful place for one hour. It was written during a period of both political as well as personal grief. Harmoniemusik holds a unique place among my works—in a way, it remains untouched by the discourses of new music that usually make the context for our music. To see the young musicians of the Bienen School, under Alan Pierson's brilliant leadership, take on this (for me) quite personal piece, and perform it with such technical precision, such verve, and at the same time such a level of maturity, was for me one of the most rewarding projects of the past years here at Northwestern University."

Commissioned by the Talea Ensemble with a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation, part one of Harmoniemusik premiered April 20, 2019, as part of the Talea Ensemble’s 10th anniversary celebration. The full, three-part work for amplified ensemble premiered September 25, 2020, in Mannheim, Germany by Ensemble Rissonanzi Errante. 

"For 60 minutes, surrounded by musicians in a darkened hall, the chaos of the world fades away, and we're immersed in Hans's harmony. While the music reflects Hans's wide-ranging passions—the cleanness of Reich, the sonic specificity of Lachenmann, the boundlessness of a James Turrell installation—Hans has created something profound here that is entirely its own, something which takes me deeper in each time I encounter it," said conductor Alan Pierson.

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