I’m still so energised from all the music that I played in São Paulo: one day, I played eight hours straight, five of them improvising with people I had not met before. And as unreal as it seems, we’re already heading to the next highlight of our tour. This one I started planning with Marcio Steuernagel over a year ago sitting in Café Augustin back in Vienna. We first met when Marcio was working with Platypus Ensemble. I remember ordering a final CaoCao-Schnaps and cheering to meeting again in Curitiba, Brazil, where Marcio teaches composition and conducting at the university.
And here we are. Marcio is welcoming and hosting us like family. As his parents are on holidays, they are so kind to offer us their apartment to stay in. So now we are accommodated in the home of the lutheran pastor of Curitiba. Among Brazilians, Curitiba is known for being „European“, and the citizens are indeed proud of this cliché. In fact, after having visited Rio and São Paulo, I’m constantly reminded of Portugal while walking through the city with its black and white cobblestone and the neoclassical architecture. The untamedness is gone and life is happening much more inside, maybe due to the cooler weather. To give you an idea how big a small city in Brazil is: Curitiba is the capital of the state of Paraná and has two million inhabitants.
But let’s jump to the music and my collaborations happening here. One reason why this stop was going to be a highlight: I am playing as a soloist with an entire orchestra for the first time in my life. Moreover, the piece is a world premiere written by a colleague of Marcio, Felipe Almeida-Ribeiro, who also organises the contemporary music festival SIMN, where my concerts are taking place. My part is pretty free, as Felipe just notated some phrases and sounds that I play and improvise with. My playing is then amplified and further processed by Felipe playing live electronics. All of that is finally accompanied by Marcio’s orchestra. We perform the concert in a big hall with a great audience. About 150 people are listening and reminded me why I truly enjoy being on stage and that I am actually living for this feeling! I only wish the piece to be just a little longer, so I may enjoy being a soloist a bit more.
The second highlight in Curitiba was the collaboration with Marcio, who composed a piece for me after exchanging a lot of emails and some recordings. Coincidentally, he works with similar sound material as Felipe, but experiments with it in a totally different way. What I love about his approach is that I got to know my instrument in a new way. At first, I was really frustrated dealing with his music, because it felt like I couldn’t control what I was doing, and that I was working against its natural way of sounding. I sent him numerous audio files of me failing to produce specific spectral multiphonics and other ones with easier alternatives (only one octave higher). But to my surprise, he was delighted with the sounds where I struggled! So, I kept working with his score and found solutions for the most challenging bars. After playing around with the musical material on my own and presenting our work together in a masterclass for composers, where I proudly showed what I discovered so his ideas would actually work, I wasn’t frustrated anymore, but excited to perform the music in my solo concert. Alongside the premiere of Marcio’s piece, I also played the first performance of Felipe’s piece in the version for only bass clarinet and live electronics. The concert was intense, the audience was really attentive and focused. After the concert, many composers, who were attending the festival, exchanged contacts with me for further collaborations. Spending our last night together with Marcio, Felipe and all the other musicians and composers of the festival, was a great conclusion of Connecting the Dots in Curitiba.