03 Feb 2008
Dance project from the Arena, Berlin

Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

David Moss, Jocelyn B. Smith, Mathilde Monnier

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    Heiner Goebbels
    Surrogate Cities for big orchestra, speaker, mezzo-soprano and sampler (83 min.)

    David Moss Vocals, Jocelyn B. Smith Vocals, Children, Youths, Adults and Seniors from Berlin and Potsdam, Benjamin Kobler Sample, Mathilde Monnier Choreographer

The city, with its vibrant energy and its dangers, has always fascinated artists of all disciplines. One of the most exciting musical representations on this theme is Heiner Goebbels’s 1994 piece Surrogate Cities. In February 2008, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle presented this composition as a multifaceted dance project.   

Young schoolchildren and a dance company, members of a kung fu group and senior citizens who dance in their leisure time – all were put on stage by French choreographer Mathilde Monnier to represent the colourful variety of a city’s population. Heiner Goebbels’s score is equally wide-ranging: orchestral sounds, sampled everyday noises, and the voices of speech artist David Moss and singer Jocelyn B. Smith all add to the monumental kaleidoscope of all the aspects we associate with the phenomenon that is the big city.

The venue itself – the Arena in Berlin, an impressive industrial structure from the early 20th century – added to the metropolis atmosphere. An audience of 4000 watched and applauded all of the participants, big and small, young and old. And a reporter from Gramophone magazine who had come from London enjoyed the “overall inventiveness and excitement” of the performance, concluding that, “The result was a successful and surprisingly accessible multimedia work that stretched contemporary music and dance far beyond their normal confines.”

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