Saturday, 25 August 2012

Stockhausen's Mittwoch Aus Licht, with a dash!

It was a nice surprise to see the stream of Stockhausen's work performed amongst the audience in such a lighthearted way, people being splashed with water or breathing in incense wafting from top hats. All the artists seemed really fired up in the right places, and I hope it goes some way to relieve the reputation of his work as precious and elitist. In my eyes it is closer to punk. It's why the audience understood when someone said the music was 'bollocks.' By populating the venue with actors, the Birmingham Opera Company showed the very human face of the music, in ways I never heard before. This music is unlikely to be played on Classic FM, and it is not the easiest of his works to begin with, maybe Mantra, Inori or Tierkreis are swallowable chunks, like most of his work it is easily satirised, but now I need it as a different flavour!


The world parliament, singers with flags of the nations as face paint, in operatic debate, surround the audience on crash mats.

The orchestral sections had Stockhausen's interest in spacial staging of the instruments well covered with each instrument up on rigging, each seemingly taking a turn whilst either gently swinging around or in the case of the tie dyed cellist violently jerking! By this stage the audience gratefully prone (this is a 6hr show) but no chance to nap, either this fool or the trombone player won the water fight.

The infamous helicopter string quartet was a let down, a big build up with the audience meeting the players in a studio, then they disappeared leaving the audience to watch on four screens. This should have been an outside affair, to really hear and see the choppers!

Still I wish I'd been there, Stockhausen had no respect for vertigo or health and safety! Also it was the first time I've seen other Stockhausen fans, dusty professors, other stereotypes, and a few yoof!


  1. Wow - a six hour performance! I've been to some Stockhausen performances but nothing as long or elaborate as this one. I'm kind of envious.

  2. Yes I'm kicking myself that I didn't know about it earlier and got tickets. I noticed there were some Stockhausen events at the Edinburgh festival too. By the time I feel the pulse the patient is dead!

  3. Fantastic coverage of Mittwoch and a great Blog -