Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Klagenfurter Ensemble

I'm thinking now of a most unforgettable moment in 2001, descending into Klagenfurt airport, a Tyrolean Air flight attendant in a dirndl leaning over, me noticing a photograph in the newspaper held by the passenger in the next row forward - a woman's mouth covered in blood! I'm fascinated, what could this be? But then I look at the caption, and it is my name. Soon we descend, and down the stairs to the tarmac, with the beautiful mountains of Carinthia all around, I meet Gerhard. "Maestro!", he says, and sweeps me into the Liegl-Garge, where I meet for the first time so many who have remained my friends over the years: Alexei Kornienko and Elena Denisova, Thomas Woschitz, Mariko Wakita, Josef "Pepi" Oberauer.

The performances of that opera - die Nacht wird kommen - was the first time I ever experienced eleven curtain calls with standing ovations, and when I realized there was something very special about Gerhard, and the Klagenfurter Ensemble and the audience it had developed who seek theatrical adventure.  When Gerhard asked me to write something again, I said yes without hesitation, and then yes again after that: YKCYC with the crazy wonderful VADA-ettes, and Rattensturm with the brilliant Peter Wagner, and more standing ovations, and in between many pilgrimages to the Lindwurm with the Empress, and Schnitzels, and hiking with the Lehners in the aforementioned beautiful mountains, where we stopped for a little wine, and driving through Slovenia and Italy for even more wine - oh, and that migraine!

I'm thinking now about how the Talltones Extended were so nervous that the great Maestro Erling Wold would be angry with them for changing the perfect jewel-like music I had written for YKCYC and of course I was not, but rather was so delighted in the way they played it that it kept me warm and happy as I walked back home through the cold and snow and the Christkindlmarkt. And the Rats! - who soldiered through the rhythms and made something so powerful that I saw many reduced to tears when the lights went down, crying over the agonies of the long-ago and almost forgotten war.

Writing this, I too find my eyes wet, remembering much that has come into my life through KE, how it opened up many opportunities - as I'm sure it has for others. There are many people I have met and worked with at KE that I have gone on to do art with all over, and who have become important to me. The operas I have done at KE have had a continuing life, getting better and better, and finding their way out to all parts of the world. It's very special, this place you have created: a beacon lighting the way to artistic delight and power and glory.
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