»At some point I probably won’t have any voice.« – Benedikt Kristjánsson
Artist in residence Benedikt Kristjánsson will undergo a transformative feat of strength for a night and a day: He is going to sing the Winterreise by Franz Schubert as a continuous cycle during 24 hours.
Find all practical information on the performance and the schedule here.
Schedule of the performance
Sat, 11 Sep, 7:30 pm, Viktoriabad: First performance of the Winterreise with pianist Fabian Müller
Ensuing: repetitions of the song cycle (solo) with 10 minutes break at each hour. The audience may choose to stay as long as desired. At each hour, a video stream will capture the journey for our Instagram-channel.
Sun, 12 Sep 2 pm. Upon arrival at Kleine Beethovenhalle, Kristjánsson will continue singing on stage. Admission for audience from 4 pm.
Sun, 12 Sep, 6 pm, Kleine Beethovenhalle: last performance of the Winterreise with Pianist Fabian Müller
Benedikt Kristjánsson, Fabian Müller
, Kleine Beethovenhalle
Benedikt Kristjánsson, Fabian Müller
»Fremd bin ich eingezogen – fremd zieh ich wieder aus.« (»A stranger I came here – a stranger I go.«)
Never arriving, never feeling at home and never reaching the goal: The first line of Schubert's Winterreise circumscribes a whole existence. Beginning and end of the journey are situated in alienation, in between lies a lifetime of transformative experiences that the traveller in Wilhelm Müller's poems has to journey through. But it is no linear journey from point A to point B: beginning and end meet, the circle starts anew. Schubert set this cyclic poetry into a unique song cycle. At the first performance in Schubert's private salon, his frieds were shaken by the radical music. Considering this, the music should not be performed in a formal tie and with the refined pose of a singer, thinks Benedikt Kristjánsson. To the contrary: The complete exhaustion into death of the traveller is staged in this work. A traveller who travels through his life, through wildernis and society, through hopes and disappointment. In this sense, Kristjánsson renders himself as the material of a performance that aims to bring about this state in the body of the singer and to manifest it in the listeners who share his journey.
This is not conceived in terms of singing, but in terms of a process of performance. Kristjánsson explains his motivation:
»I am interested not only in singing, but also in finding my own boundaries. Not only concerning singing, but also more in general – spiritually, bodily.«
The singer is bound to reach his physical limits, as he will sing the Winterreise as a (nearly) continuous loop: As a cycle that restarts again and again. In this way Kristjánsson adheres to the finishing lines of the song cycle. In the last song No. 24, »Der Leiermann«, the traveller asks the hurdy gurdy player at the village margins: »Wunderlicher Alter! / Soll ich mit dir geh'n? / Willst zu meinen Liedern / Deine Leier dreh'n?« (»Curious old Man! / Should I go with you? / Will you play to my songs / your hurdy gurdy?«) A possible reading of these verses would be an encounter with death personified. Another reading could be to restart at this point with a new cycle of songs and travels the restless traveller has to journey through. This association came to Kristjánsson once he first listened to the work in concert:
»When I first listened to this, after the last song, I thought: the first song could start right now, one could repeat the whole thing over…«
For Kristjánsson, the question of how the audience will react to his cyclical performance is especially interesting. The audience will have the freedom to decide how to act after the first performance has run through on the stage of the Viktoriabad. »I give the listeners no possibility to applaud now, because the concert is over, instead I keep on singing right away. So, the people have to decide at some point: will I stay here, or will I go and leave the singer alone in his anguish?« Each and every one of us who shares the journey of the singer, is part of this experiment Kristjánsson is going to undertake with himself and the music.
For the singer, the transformation is paramount: The transformation that will be a real one due to the time span and the exhaustion, felt in body and mind. At the final run through of Winterreise on Sunday at 6 pm at Kleine Beethovenhalle, the singer will be changed, maybe even into something different.
»Then you won't see a singer who sings the Winterreise, but a completely insane guy, who is still trying to somehow make art or music. And I will have become, I think, the guy himself, the guy in the Winterreise. Who at the end only sees the hurdy gurdy man.«