Kevin Volans - The Partenheimer Project
The structure and scale of this piece was inspired by the spaces of the Ikon Gallery and the Kunstmuseum in Bonn. The Partenheimer exhibition was to be spread over a number of rooms, so I decided to do the same with the music – 3 ensembles playing in 3 different spaces, but each able to be overheard by the others. This presented me with a few coordination problems, as each ensemble plays at a different speed and I was concerned not to let one ensemble obscure the material of another. Also I decided to write quite different material for each ensemble, only allowing one or two moments when they would come together.
To begin with, I wrote the music of one ensemble from beginning to end, then cut it up and stretched it out to 150% of its length. Then I composed the music of the other two ensembles around this, with long gaps where they didn’t play. In this way I tried not only to avoid filling up the space with sound, but also to draw the listeners from one space to another – to entice them to move around the galleries. The three different ensembles (chosen to give me a maximum contrast of texture and material) also reflects Partenheimer’s use of different media: works on paper, paintings, and sculpture (including ceramics).
…it seemed the fascination was not just to be found within the frames, or in the score in front of the musicians – it was in the air between the artists and the viewer-listener
The Birmingham Post
It is intensely wrought music, rougher-edged than Feldman, and less obsessive, but in its own way, just as compelling
The Partenheimer Project was premiered by BCMG at IKON Gallery, Birmingham on 20 April 2008.