MUTED
newsletter
26 June 2018

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Monica's latest newsletter about MUTED & more: read more here

De Volkskrant: "Violinist Monica Germino can..."

De Volkskrant (NL) 
Excerpts translated from Dutch. Read complete article here (Dutch) 
 
INTERVIEW MONICA GERMINO
Violinist Monica Germino can play again, despite hearing problems, thanks to quiet pieces written especially for her                  

The American-Dutch violinist Monica Germino, known for her electronically amplified performances of music by contemporary composers, is given the worst conceivable news three years ago: she has to stop making music or take drastic measures to protect her hearing.

Monica Germino. Photo Sharon Mor Yosef

She has known for a long time that she is 'sensitive to sound,' which means that sound enters her ears at a higher level than it would to others hearing the exact same sound. That is why her ears are more prone to damage. The loudest violinist in the country can now only play very softly.

'It's like a runner who hears that if he keeps running at high speeds, he is likely to have knee injuries in the future. He can still do a fast walk,' says Germino. '80 decibels is my fast walk.'

Quite a blow for someone who cherishes volume. Even her acoustic violin is too loud. Germino's first reaction is to stop everything. 'I didn't want to have the violin next to my ears.'  She arranges replacements for her projects and concerts. She can hardly talk about her condition with others. 'Playing the violin is my identity. What was I supposed to say now? Hi, I'm Monica and I'm ...'

She also calls Michael Gordon, the world-famous American composer, to cancel a project. 'Then everything changed. For Michael, stopping was not an option. He said, "I am going to write you a very soft piece. And I want to be the first to do this for you."

Two colleagues from the New York collective Bang on a Can, Julia Wolfe and David Lang, join forces. They have been working with the theme of silence for some time; for example, Lang wrote a 'whisper opera.' Wolfe had written a piece for Germino before. The Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, who composed several pieces for Germino, is asked to be artistic leader. The result, MUTED, will premiere tomorrow at the Oranjewoud Festival. Germino can play again. 'The composers saved me,' says the violinist.

Two historical 'frame violins' are featured in MUTED. A frame violin is a violin without a sound box. Just like an electric violin, but acoustic and unamplified. A violin without a sound box is extremely quiet. Such an instrument is usually used to practice (to spare the neighbors). The renowned industrial designer Marcel Wanders, former amateur violinist, has also built a spectacular whisperviolin with luthier Bas Maas. Instead of the traditional scroll found on normal violins, the whisperviolin has a finger, as if to say: shhh. 

But the music in MUTED music is not necessarily extremely soft. 'It is also about the perception of sound, and about contrast. For example, I can start out playing with a sourdine, a mute, on the violin. When I take it off the audience suddenly experiences the music as loud, but it is really not loud at all. Sound works just like light, you adapt to it.' 

Can't you just play with earplugs, other musicians sometimes ask. Germino has tried it for a year before she finally quit her orchestral job at the end of the '90s, already diagnosed with sound sensitivity. 'I never got used to it. Earplugs are deadening. They take away too many of the subtle details, such as the sound of bow hair gliding across a string. '

Many colleagues did not understand why she quit her job. Hearing damage is a sensitive issue for (classical) musicians, almost a taboo. Those who play in a Wagner opera in an orchestra pit are exposed to sound levels around 130 decibels. Germino: 'When I left the orchestra, a colleague said: "Well, aren't we all deaf?'

However Germino is not deaf, perhaps to the contrary. By playing softer, her experience of music has changed. 'I am now much more aware of sound. It sounds ironic, but I now hear a hundred times as much as before.'

Muted. 7 (try-out), 8 (premiere) and 9/6 2018, Oranjewoud Festival. Next season (international) tour.

WHISPERVIOLIN, FRAME VIOLIN, SOURDINE

The whisperviolin, made for Monica Germino by designer Marcel Wanders together with luthier Bas Maas, is a violin that produces fewer decibels than the normal, acoustic violin. It is inspired by the seventeenth-century 'pocket violin:' a violin with a narrower sound box, then used by dance masters.

She also plays two frame violins: violins without a sound box, only the 'ribs.' These instruments were made out of the leftover wood from making violins. The sound is softer and rich in overtones, which are higher tones that vibrate sympathetically with the sounding tone.

An ordinary violin can also be made to sound softer when using a sourdine, also known as a mute. This is a clip made of wood, plastic, metal or leather, which is placed on the bridge, limiting or altering the vibrations. Germino now has a collection of hundreds of sourdines.

MUTED premieres at Oranjewoud Festival

MUTED

Premiere: 8 & 9 June 2018 at 20.00 & 22.00, Oranjewoud Festival, Museum Belvedere. Try-out performances on 7 June at 20.00 & 22.00.

A collective work by 4 composers for violin, voice, whisperviolin, frame violin, a multitude of mutes, and light

composers: Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe

Watch live TV broadcast of Podium Witteman here -the segment about MUTED starts at 6'55" (in Dutch). Music: 19'30"

Excerpt by Louis Andriessen here

Stage design & lighting: Floriaan Ganzevoort

Text: excerpts from archy and mehitabel by Don Marquis

Cast of credits, MUTED:

Commissioners
The Doelen, Rotterdam (Neil Wallace, Executive Producer)
Oranjewoud Festival, Oranjewoud
Music on Main, Vancouver

Partners and presenters
Wonderfeel Festival
Korzo, Den Haag
Muziekgebouw Aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam
November Music, Den Bosch

With thanks to
MassMoCA, Massachusetts, USA
Kenny Savelson, Bang on a Can All-Stars
Phillipa Thompson, Bang on a Can Summer Festival
Vera Kuiper, Dutch Consulate, New York
Neil Wallace, Programme Director, de Doelen
Bas Maas, luthier
Marcel Wanders, designer
Niek Versfeld and Jaap Peter Kronemeijer, Audiologisch Centrum Hilversum
Stijn Hoogeboom, Oorwerk, Hilversum
Jacqueline & Serge Stam, Stam Vioolbouw

photo Anne Reinke

Decibels & Instruments & Mutes: the backstory

MUTED premiered on 7 - 8 - 9 June 2018 at the Oranjewoud Festival and starts touring in fall 2018.
 
What’s in a decibel?
The specialists were unanimous: my ears are highly sensitive to sound. ‘Geluidsgevoelig,’ in Dutch. It sounded almost positive to me, ‘sensitive to sound.’ It’s also not uncommon. But a high sensitivity to sound means that my ears are more prone to damage. A person standing next to me could be exposed to the exact same sounds, yet not be affected. The advice was clear: to protect my hearing by significantly reducing my exposure to high decibel (dB) levels.
Decibel levels and the key concept of duration: what is considered safe? How many dB for how long? Impossible questions to answer infallibly, but working with the Audiologisch Centrum Hilversum brought clarity to a complex situation. They measured the decibel levels of different violin mutes (a.k.a. sourdine, sordino, demper), giving estimates and advice about a multitude of issues. Many thanks to experts N.J. Versfeld and J.P. Kronemeijer, and Oorwerk’s Stijn Hoogeboom in Hilversum.
A runner hears: if they keep running at high speeds, chances are high that in future years they’re going to have serious knee pain. They might even need surgery. But if they slow down to a fast walk, chances are they could avoid that. So the runner chooses to protect their knees by going from running to a fast walk. In hearing terms, my ‘fast walk’ is about 80 decibels. My acoustic violin can measure 90-95 dB under my ear.
How I would move ahead and with what means were all unknowns.
Confronted with the fact that it would be reckless to continue exposing my ears to a high level of decibels, I had to make choices. I was lucky that I learned this sooner than later. I consoled myself with that knowledge while evaluating the decibel levels of treasured and prospective collaborations. I said farewell to click tracks, bass drums, and high-volume soundtracks. I sifted through pieces that were simply too loud for me now, many close to my heart, and started the process of finding them new homes, new interpreters.
There’s a passage from Igor Stravinsky’s Poetics of Music: ‘My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit.’
Limits inspire creativity. Take quietness and conquer the world.
—Monica Germino
 

 

pictured here: the frame violin, also known as a mute violin, ca. 1870. It has a beautiful, intimate, overtone-rich sound. Surprisingly little is known about these striking instruments. One resource is the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, whose collection houses what could be this frame violin's sister...

MUTED
Cue the new music community: resourceful, supportive and stubborn composers and colleagues who lifted me up and pulled me along this fascinating journey. Ups and downs and the unexpected began to feel like the status quo. Michael Gordon's response to what was drastic news to me —having to protect my hearing by stopping or adapting how I played the violin — was one of optimism and curiosity. I'll never forget his words: “I’m going to write you a piece so soft, I don’t care if no one can hear it.” Michael, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe decided to join forces to create MUTED, “the quietest violin piece ever written.” The three later invited Louis Andriessen to join in the experiment, fulfilling a long-held wish to collaborate.

Watch musical excerpt by Louis Andriessen here (Podium Witteman, live television broadcast)

There is an enormously talented and resourceful pool of people involved, including stage and light designer Floriaan Ganzevoort, executive producer Neil Wallace & De Doelen, numerous mute creators, filmmakers, audiologists, producers, commissioners, as well as a swath of venues and festivals. The list* is long and heartwarming.
Special thanks to luthier Bas Maas and designer Marcel Wanders, who are creating an entirely new, lower-decibel instrument, a ‘whisperviolin,’ inspired by and loosely modeled on the 17th-century ‘pochette’ violin, but created to explore the world of quieter sounds. Besides unmatched creativity and unparalleled skill, both bring a sense of adventure and a palpable excitement to the process.

The collective composition, MUTED, premieres in June 2018. It features what Germino calls ‘whisperviolin’ (fluisterviool), and will explore the limits of audibility for solo violin and voice. While the label “quietest piece ever written for violin” certainly applies to parts of this 4-composer work, the contrast in audibility plays an essential role. Similar to how pupils expand and contract depending on how much light there is in a space, the variety of decibel levels play with sonic perception. The intensely quiet frame violin is featured alongside violins matched with mutes and voice. MUTED also includes a part for Germino’s singing voice, in settings of texts from Don Marquis’ 1930’s New York Post cult column 'Archy and Mehitabel.' The piece has been commissioned by a prestigious international consortium of presenters, is produced by De Doelen, Rotterdam, and receives its world première in June 2018 at the Netherlands’ Oranjewoud Festival as part of Leeuwarden’s 2018 Cultural Capital of Europe programme.
MUTED is conceived for small groups of listeners in intimate, magical spaces. MUTED may owe its origins to four composers paying tribute to the determination of a single musician, but it is also a reflection on silence, on the act of listening, an antidote to the noise and the ever-increasing clamor of today’s world.
 
MUTED has its roots in the reaction from composers to my high sensitivity to sound and having to cut down the amount of decibels pouring into my ears. I used to play pretty hard-hitting music, much of it newly commissioned. I took measures to protect my hearing, and left the world of orchestral playing many years ago, but I was probably one of the loudest violinists around. And as Mehitabel** would say, “I have no regrets!” But saying farewell to a repertoire close to my heart has its difficult moments, and tough choices abound.
It’s new territory for me, there’s an uncharted development process ahead, and a completely new sound world to figure out. My work has always been composer driven, and I am extremely grateful to and moved by the active role composers and colleagues are taking in this enforced, bewildering, and somehow increasingly exciting development in my creative path as a musician.

In the press:

Watch live TV broadcast of Podium Witteman here -the segment about MUTED starts at 6'55" (in Dutch). Music: 19'30"


De Volkskrant (NL) 
Excerpts translated from DutchRead complete article here (Dutch). -by Persis Bekkering, 6 June 2018
 
Violinist Monica Germino can play again, despite hearing problems, thanks to quiet pieces written especially for her                  

"The American-Dutch violinist Monica Germino, known for her electronically amplified performances of music by contemporary composers, is given the worst conceivable news three years ago: she has to stop making music or take drastic measures to protect her hearing." ...READ MORE


NRC Handelsblad (NL)
Excerpts translated from Dutch
 
Red Sofa celebrates 10 years, opens festival with Monica Germino’s quiet violin 
Adventurous violinist Monica Germino enthusiastic about Red Sofa's new music program in Rotterdam's De Doelen                       
Read complete article here (in Dutch). -by Joep Stapel, 21 March, 2018      

"...As the pop-up artist, Monica Germino will decide what she will actually play in the moment. It will certainly be soft, because a few years ago Germino was diagnosed as 'sensitive to sound,' which means that her ears are more prone to damage [from high decibel levels]. She had to say goodbye to the high-octane soundtracks and louder works for electric violin, giving up many pieces she had often performed.

She is now "more curious than sad," says Germino. Playing quietly opens up a whole new dimension; and apart from a reflection on silence and listening it can also be "an antidote to the relentless noise of our world." She has amassed a huge collection of mutes (sourdines) and plays a rare 'frame violin' from ca. 1870, an instrument without a sound box which therefore plays at a very low volume. Germino: "Neil [Wallace] wants me to play the frame violin in the Main Hall without any amplification; for me that's a thrill, an adventure." Wallace: "You will hear a pin drop.”

Spring Loaded Festival: 10 years of Red Sofa. De Doelen Rotterdam. www.dedoelen.nl


The mutes in MUTED 
Central to Monica Germino’s work is her unusual family of instruments, as well as her ever-expanding collection of mutes. Germino’s ongoing search has resulted in over 400 vintage, modern, and newly commissioned mutes. A mute (a.k.a. sourdine, sordino, demper) can alter the sound of the violin in countless ways. From Canada to Spain, mute-makers are experimenting with new designs and all kinds of materials – leather, metal, cork, magnets, plexiglass, bone, rubber, paper, textiles, the list goes on.

The instruments

  • A (muted) J. B. Ceruti violin from Cremona (1802) on permanent loan from the Elise Mathilde Foundation
  • Two rare frame violins, also known as mute violins, with a delicate, surprisingly overtone-rich sound (ca. 1870 and 1970)
  • A custom-made Violectra electric violin (2007)
  • The new whisperviolin (2018), by Bas Maas and Marcel Wanders
  • A ‘whisperbow,’ made of carbon fibre, produces a wispy, delicate sound

The whisperviolin (2018) (in progress) 
To add to the instrumentarium, luthier Bas Maas and designer Marcel Wanders are creating an entirely new, lower-decibel instrument, a ‘whisperviolin,’ inspired by and loosely modeled on the 17th-century ‘pochette’ violin. This instrument is being created to explore the world of quieter sounds. When Wanders took on this challenge, he spoke about decibels and sound and his fascination with “designing a violin for Monica, and how this could ultimately also help other violinists.” Marcel Wanders played the violin for 6 years and reveres its history, shape, and form. Bas Maas is on a quest for ways that unconventional ideas could possibly work. Besides unmatched creativity and unparalleled skill, both bring a sense of adventure and a palpable excitement to the process.

Marcel Wanders: “The hope also is that this new instrument will end up helping other violinists as well. Monica is not the only one going through this.”

I wholeheartedly agree. As interesting as this whole journey is, I hope going down this path can help other musicians. On that note...

Frequently Asked Questions:
"Why don’t you just use earplugs?” For those who do and can still enjoy music-making, that's great. I tried this option for many months, but it felt like sensory deprivation. I rely on (and love) the subtle sounds associated with playing the violin. It's essential for me to hear the tapping of my left hand on the fingerboard and the sound the hair of the bow makes when touching the string. Earplugs blocked those sounds out. This all contributed to my decision to bring down the volume of the violin instead of muffling my ears. That said, of course I fully support the use of hearing protectors. 
"Do your ears hurt?" No. That said, certain loud or abrasive sounds hurt. Which brings me to...
"What is hyperacusis?" This is something I suffer from, albeit to a lesser degree than described in the majority of the cases I have read about online. I notice hyperacusis during activities like emptying a dishwasher- the sound of a plate striking another plate is an unpleasant, jarring sound for me. I hesitate to provide a comprehensive link to any one source, as there is a lot of information out there. 
 
Other useful articles (please email me if you have tips or suggestions)
WNPR News: How Your Hearing Is Affected By Volume, and What the Damage Sounds Like
Are earphones or earbuds a problem? WBUR article 
There is a flood of information, research, and articles about hearing protection and hearing disorders available online and in print. I have found that the majority focuses on musicians who play amplified, and orchestral musicians (too many cases for me to document here).

If you're still with me:

MUTED premiered on 7 - 8 - 9 June 2018 at the Oranjewoud Festival, Museum Belvedere. 

A collective work by 4 composers for violin, voice, whisperviolin, frame violins, a multitude of mutes, and light

Composers: Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe

Stage design & lighting: Floriaan Ganzevoort

Watch broadcast of Podium Witteman here -the segment about MUTED starts at 6'55" (in Dutch). Music: 19'30"

Excerpt by Louis Andriessen here

**Text: excerpts from Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis

*Cast of credits, MUTED:

Commissioners
The Doelen, Rotterdam (Neil Wallace, Executive Producer)
Oranjewoud Festival, Oranjewoud
New York Philharmonic Orchestra, New York
Music on Main, Vancouver
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Partners and presenters
Wonderfeel Festival
Korzo, Den Haag
Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam
November Music, Den Bosch

With thanks to
Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Louis Andriessen
MassMoCA, Massachusetts, USA
Kenny Savelson, Bang on a Can All-Stars
Phillipa Thompson, Bang on a Can Summer Festival
Vera Kuiper, Dutch Consulate, New York
Neil Wallace, Programme Director, de Doelen
Bas Maas, luthier
Marcel Wanders, designer
Niek Versfeld and Jaap Peter Kronemeijer, Audiologisch Centrum Hilversum
Stijn Hoogeboom, Oorwerk, Hilversum
Jacqueline & Serge Stam, Stam Vioolbouw

photos Anne Reinke

Live TV broadcast, Podium Witteman

Watch live TV broadcast of Podium Witteman here -the segment about MUTED starts at 6'55" (in Dutch). Music: 19'30"

Excerpt by Louis Andriessen here

Monica Germino talks about and plays excerpts from MUTED, a collective work by 4 composers for violin, voice, whisperviolin, frame violin, a multitude of mutes, and light

composers: Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe

Broadcast date: 6 May, 18.00, NPO2

Premiere of MUTED: 8 June 2018 at 20.00, Oranjewoud Festival, Museum Belvedere. Performances from 7-9 June.

composers: Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe

Stage design & lighting: Floriaan Ganzevoort

Text: excerpts from archy and mehitabel by Don Marquis

NRC: Red Sofa, pop-up artist, & quiet playing

NRC Handelsblad
21 March, 2018.  Excerpts translated from Dutch
 
Red Sofa celebrates 10 years, opens festival with Monica Germino’s quiet violin (excerpts)
Adventurous violinist Monica Germino enthusiastic about Red Sofa's new music program in Rotterdam's De Doelen                       Read complete article here (in Dutch) 
-by Joep Stapel       

Contemporary music has a reputation for being difficult. The tired cliche of dry, impenetrable music played to empty halls still exists. But De Doelen in Rotterdam is overthrowing the stereotype with a lively and accessible new music series. It's called Red Sofa, and celebrates its tenth anniversary this week with the six-day Spring Loaded festival. A film concert, a bicycle ride to secret concert venues, a 'pop-up artist,' world premieres, and of course the red three-seater sofa as the center for informal talks before and after the concerts. "I put everything into this festival that makes Red Sofa into Red Sofa," says Programme Director Neil Wallace.

The pop-up artist is the adventurous violinist Monica Germino. She will open the festival and perform a number of interventions. Germino is a fervent admirer of the Red Sofa series: "Neil Wallace has achieved something you also see in modern art museums: people aren't apprehensive, they’re curious and open to new discoveries."

The Red Sofa formula revolves around this curiosity, says Wallace (1953). "We have built a community of interested people who are not afraid of new notes. I’m probably the only new music programmer in the Netherlands who has no worries about what I present – people will come anyway.”

As the pop-up artist, Monica Germino will decide what she will actually play in the moment. It will certainly be soft, because a few years ago Germino was diagnosed as 'sensitive to sound,' which means that her ears are more prone to damage [from high decibel levels]. She had to say goodbye to the high-octane soundtracks and louder works for electric violin, giving up many pieces she had often performed.

She is now "more curious than sad," says Germino. Playing quietly opens up a whole new dimension; and apart from a reflection on silence and listening it can also be "an antidote to the relentless noise of our world." She has amassed a huge collection of mutes (sourdines) and plays a rare 'frame violin' from ca. 1870, an instrument without a sound box which therefore plays at a very low volume. Germino: "Neil wants me to play the frame violin in the Main Hall without any amplification; for me that's a thrill, an adventure." Wallace: "You will hear a pin drop.”

Spring Loaded Festival: 10 years of Red Sofa. 21-26 / 3 De Doelen Rotterdam. Inl . www.dedoelen.nl

Photo: Marco Borggreve

Festival Spring Loaded: secrets in the city

It's not a Red Sofa anniversary without a bicycle ride to short performances at secret locations in the city!
Spring Loaded pop-up artist in residence Monica Germino will be there. The rest is a secret, except that there will be music in 4 locations in the Delfshaven district, and that a world premiere will be in almost every space…
An irresistible and surprising way to get to know both new music and hidden places in Rotterdam.
 
The starting point: De Machinist in Delfshaven, at 19.00
Address: Willem Buytewechstraat 45
3024 BK Rotterdam
 
Red Sofa in De Doelen celebrates 10-year anniversary with Festival Spring Loaded Read press release here
 
Spring Loaded presents film, premieres, cycling, and more
Young composers write new works, Monica Germino is pop-up artist in residence, five world premieres, a bicycle tour to four secret concert venues, and much more.   
 
An extraordinary series of concerts
For 10 years now, De Doelen has been presenting modern music in an accessible manner under the name 'Red Sofa.' With a bright red sofa on stage as a symbol of hospitality and by providing every concert with free introductions, follow-up talks and meet & greets with musicians and composers, a sound world unknown to many has been unlocked for the past 10 years. With around 10,500 filled seats at Red Sofa concerts in 2017, de Doelen has managed to set up the largest community for new music in the Netherlands. Ten years of Red Sofa will be celebrated with the six-day Festival Spring Loaded from 21 to 26 March 2018.

Red Sofa: Festival Spring Loaded

21 - 26 March, 2018
Red Sofa celebrates 10-year anniversary with Festival Spring Loaded
Monica Germino, pop-up artist in residence
Jubileum of Red Sofa in the Doelen celebrated with Festival Spring Loaded: Read press release here

Spring Loaded presents film, premieres, cycling, and more
Young composers write new works, Monica Germino is pop-up artist in residence, five world premieres, a bicycle tour to four secret concert venues, and much more.   

Opening concert on 21 March: Pete Harden, the Matangi Quartet, Ensemble Klang, and Michaela Riener are working together for the opening concert. Oscar Bettison’s composition 'Presence of Absence' is combined with the film 'Homo Sapiens’ by renowned filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter.
 
An extraordinary series of concerts
For 10 years now, De Doelen has been presenting modern music in an accessible manner under the name 'Red Sofa.' With a bright red sofa on stage as a symbol of hospitality and by providing every concert with free introductions, follow-up talks and meet & greets with musicians and composers, a sound world unknown to many has been unlocked for the past 10 years. With around 10,500 filled seats at Red Sofa concerts in 2017, de Doelen has managed to set up the largest community for new music in the Netherlands. Ten years of Red Sofa will be celebrated with the six-day Festival Spring Loaded from 21 to 26 March 2018.

virtual bubble concert

photo: Sharon Mor Yosef

During the opening weekend of Leeuwarden-Fryslân Cultural Capital of Europe 2018, Oranjewoud Festival presents a unique performance by violinist Monica Germino. In the central hall of pop venue Neushoorn, she creates a virtual bubble in the midst of all the activity. The audience steps into this by putting on a wireless headset and sitting in a circle around the violinist performing Jacob TV's Shakedown from SUITES OF LUX for electric violin & soundtrack. Each session lasts about 8 minutes. Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018

Saturday 27 January, 19.00 - 21.00

venue: Neushoorn; Leeuwarden, NL 

Visiting Artist at the USF School of Music 2017-2018

photo: Bryce Womeldurf 
Visiting artist and violinist Monica Germino addresses students during an intensive violin studio class on November 8, 2017.
 
"Violinist Monica Germino wraps up an exciting semester as visiting artist at the USF School of Music" Read more
 
"Germino has spent her time introducing students to new contemporary music composers and techniques while challenging them every step of the way. Working with a studio already well-versed in contemporary music, she pushed the students further into the realm of new music by assigning works by composers such as Donnacha Dennehy, Annie Gosfield, Louis Andriessen, Vanessa Lann, and Philip Glass.
In early November, she coordinated and moderated a special violin studio class in Barness Hall with live sound and technical support from the USF Composition department. All 18 members of the violin studio introduced their pieces – which ranged from Ives and Boulanger to new music spanning the 1980s to the present – before performing them live with any complementary soundtracks and amplification.
Students saw firsthand what it is like to engage with music in an intensive setting with the guidance of a challenging, supportive, and experienced musician. Some even sang while playing violin, a method of performance that has come to characterize Germino's own professional work.
"What I love about her is she is bringing it right to the students," said Scott Kluksdahl, professor of cello and chamber music. His students often collaborate with the violin studio for chamber music pieces. He calls the recent studio class "a real glimpse into how an artist engages in the creative process ... Everybody had to go outside their comfort zone and do something that was in the realm of the unknown."
Germino's presence this semester has advanced the musicianship of violin students at USF and will leave a lasting impression on both student performers and composers alike. "To have an established new music performer who's not only passionate but also really good and well-recognized is really useful," said [Logan] Barrett [a third-year music composition student]. "It's reassuring and directly helps us because it gets the violinists more into what we do."
-Connor Murphy
 
 

whisperviolin

Welcome to the newest addition to the family, which thus far includes a Ceruti from 1802, a Violectra by Dave Bruce Johnson, a modified violin for INDUSTRY, Mr. Blue (seeing is believing), and more coming up...watch this space!

This frame violin, also known as a mute violin, is from ca. 1870. It has a beautiful, intimate, overtone-rich sound. Surprisingly little is known about these striking instruments.  One resource is the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota.

video premiere of Shapeshifter

Watch the video here! (excerpt)

NEW@LOG: New video! The Log Journal premieres the video to Molly Joyce's "Shapeshifter," off her recent EP and featuring violinist Monica Germino. Video shot and edited by Kevin Eikenberg of Four/Ten Media:

The Log Journal "Our friends at New Amsterdam Records have given us the opportunity to share a number of exclusive album previews in recent months. Today we’ve got something different to offer along with NewAm: our first VIDEO premiere, for the Molly Joyce composition Shapeshifter. Performed by the Dutch duo of violinist Monica Germino and sound engineer Frank van der Weij, the piece is one of two works included on Joyce’s new digital EP, 'Lean Back and Release.'

Molly Joyce: “Shapeshifter is a work inspired and motivated by physical change and its many implications. When I originally wrote it for the violin and engineer duo of Monica Germino and Frank van der Weij, I was aiming for the violin to gradually ‘shape-shift’ to a new and divergent sound. Thus the video to accompany excerpts of the work utilizes projection mapping and more to distort the actress’s appearance and propel her to a new physical image.”

18th Biennial Festival of New Music

photo: Co Broerse

1-4 February 2017: Monica Germino in residence at the 18th Biennial Festival of New Music at Florida State University College of Music. 23 composers from across the country will attend performances of their works in a series of 7 concerts. The festival will feature presentations, works, performances, and masterclasses by special guests: composer Louis Andriessen, the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, and violinist Monica Germino. 

New release: Monica Germino plays Molly Joyce's Shapeshifter

 New Amsterdam Records releases a digital EP of two tracks for solo violin with live and pre-recorded electronics, by Molly Joyce . Monica Germino plays Joyce's entrancing Shapeshifter and Adrianna Mateo plays the title track, Lean Back and Release. Mixing/mastering by Andrew McKenna Lee, Frank van der Weij, Krišs Veismanis, Michael Laurello, and Greg Kalember. 
Out now via New Amsterdam Bandcamp subscription & everywhere else on 27 January 2017. 

Listen on Spotify

Watch the video (excerpt)

The title track is followed by a more recent work, "Shapeshifter", originally written for the Dutch duo of violinist Monica Germino and sound engineer Frank van der Weij. Premiered in April 2015 in The Hague and Amsterdam, "Shapeshifter" is motivated by the concept of control and losing it. It is driven by the fact that with the duo, Frank is typically not seen visually, and therefore the idea of him controlling Monica’s sound and gradually letting go of that control is highlighted throughout the piece, and for Monica to gradually “shape-shift” to a new and divergent sound. The Shapeshifter recording was engineered by Frank van der Weij, Krišs Veismanis, and mixed by Michael Laurello, and mastered by Greg Kalember. 

Molly Joyce on both works: 
"Lean Back and Release' and 'Shapeshifter' represent some of my first explorations into composing for acoustic instruments with accompanying electronics, and specifically how these instruments' sounds can transform electro-acoustically. With both works I was striving for a clear form that is driven by the changing range of the solo violinist, and how that change can be driven by an electronic backing track that is also derived from the acoustic violin. 
Both pieces are also very much inspired by the violinists they are written for, and were written to challenge and showcase Adrianna and Monica's talents in new and unexpected ways."

READ MORE: Broadwayworld.com

ALUMNI PROFILE: MONICA GERMINO

Official violin version of Michael Gordon's INDUSTRY out now!

Out now! video clip of Michael Gordon's INDUSTRY on Cantaloupe Music 

The official violin version of Michael Gordon's INDUSTRY is out now! (VIDEO)

BUY NOW on iTunes

BUY NOW in the Bang in a Can store

WATCH THE TRAILER

"a bold, futuristic and ultimately high-voltage vision" video clip of Michael Gordon's INDUSTRY on Cantaloupe Music 

We celebrated with live preview in the Netherlands in Ostade A'dam for a capacity audience. Video: Marcel Wierckx, sound design & recording: Frank van der Weij.

"...In her fiery performance of composer Michael Gordon's "tour-de-force of slowly rising intensity" [The Daily Telegraph], violinist Monica Germino revels in pushing the signal-processed limits of her instrument in collaboration with sound designer Frank van der Weij. Filmed and edited by video artist Marcel Wierckx, Industry captures a bold, futuristic and ultimately high-voltage vision of one of the most compelling works in new classical music. At the composer’s request, Germino and van der Weij sought to create the definitive violin version of Gordon's work — a challenge that ultimately resulted in adapting the instrument solely for this piece of music. Germino performs on a modified, amplified, extreme scordatura acoustic violin, together with a battery of effects."

Artist presentation: La Cité des Dames in Cologne

20 January, 20:00: La Cité des Dames - Women in Focus

Presented by: Gleichstellungskommission der HfMT Köln

Venue: Hochschule für Musik und Tanz (Kammermusiksaal)
Unter Krahnenbäumen 87
50668 Cologne, Germany

Telefon 0221 / 912818-0

Read more (in German) musik-in-koeln.de

Series of events & concerts at the Hochschule

La Nazione

Article in La Nazione about the concert in Florence, Italy on 23 July 2015, 21.00 

Venue: Sala Brunelleschi dell’Istituto degli Innocenti

Cristina Zavalloni, voice; Monica Germino, violin
Music by Louis Andriessen

Renato Rivolta, conductor
Strumentisti dell’Orchestra Giovanile Italiana

Tickets & information

Coaching and concert in Fiesole

Concert: Thursday, 23 July 2015, 21.00 
Venue: Sala Brunelleschi dell’Istituto degli Innocenti
In residence 20 -24 July, Scuola Musica Fiesole, Italy

Cristina Zavalloni, voice; Monica Germino, violin
Music by Louis Andriessen

Renato Rivolta, conductor
Strumentisti dell’Orchestra Giovanile Italiana

Tickets & information

Rave review for RACHE

"It makes one's blood run cold," wrote Marc van der Heijde about the premiere of RACHE in his blog for the Operadagen Rotterdam. "It's clear that the soloists-ensemble ELECTRA provided the composer [Boudewijn Tarenskeen] with extra inspiration. Michaela Riener, Susanna Borsch, Saskia Lankhoorn and Monica Germino are multi-talents, each convincing to one and all as singers, actresses and instrumentalists." 
"Elektra (with the gorgeous voice of Riener) killed her mother with the same axe that killed Elektra's father...when she in her lust for revenge finally slashes through the head of the drum...provides a new and powerful image of the classical drama..."
"At first, Marianne Bachmeier (Borsch) speaks through her instrument, the recorder...She wants to tell a coherent story but she makes her flute stutter, shout, and squeal...when she finally speaks, it is with the voice of a cold-blooded killer..."
"For the Biblical Judith, Lankhoorn portrays a seductress...her soft, husky, whispering voice...with texts surrounded by sounds from an old synthesizer...the increasing coldness in the music makes you slowly open your eyes..."
"Germino uses the violin as the sword with which the bride from Tarentino's "Kill Bill" killed a woman...the attack of the bow on the strings keeps you on the edge of your seat...Germino's appearance is every bit as intense as that of Uma Thurman: feline and on the cutting edge."
Read more (in Dutch)
photo: Anne Reinke