Scott L. Miller Raba (‘Marsh’, 2015, VR-version 2017)
Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes Silent Witness (2018)
Liisa Hirsch Jäljed (‘Traces’, 2018)
Märt-Matis Lill Mere ja maa laul (‘The Song of Land and Sea’, 2018)
Tarmo Johannes (flute)
Helena Tuuling (clarinet)
Merje Roomere (violin)
Levi-Danel Mägila (cello)
Vambola Krigul (percussion)
Taavi Kerikmäe (piano)
VR director: Rein Zobel (Maru VR Productions)
VR version made in cooperation with Mark Gill (SCSU Visualization Lab), Tammo Sumera (Kõlavärv)
VR presentation software: Tarmo Johannes
Studio recording: Tammo Sumera
Photos: Evi Pärn
Premiere: Premiere: 08.11.2018 Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn (Eesti Kontsert)
Supporters and partners: St. Cloud State University 2017 Research Faculty Improvement Grant, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Samsung Eesti, Maru VR Productions, Kõlavärv
Special thanks: Broadline, Erko Veltson, Hamburg & Partnerid, Janek Šafranovski / Viimsi Museum of Coastal Folk, Rein Kääpa / Rannakalur and our volunteers!
Virtual reality project ‘Look around you, look inside yourself’
This project brings together the special natural environment of Estonia, the masterful Estonian contemporary music and technological innovation to form a unique audiovisual experience.
Four composers – Scott Miller (USA), Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes, Märt-Matis Lill and Liisa Hirsch – have written site-specific works for ensemble U:, inspired by selected locations in Estonian nature. These locations have been filmed with 360-degree cameras and the resulting material forms a complete artwork with the music. The concert audience can use VR headgear, which allows them to spend time in nature, far away from the concert hall – to look around, take in various details, get lost in the changes of light and moods of locations. At the same time, the musicians of ensemble U: are performing at the concert hall, and the audience is also surrounded by pre-recorded or electronically designed sounds. In a way, it is a case of double senses, and several borders can be shifted. The result is not merely a thrilling experiment, but also a profound, introspective, and artistically excellent personal experience.
The first VR pilot project of U: was launched in December 2017, when they performed Scott Miller’s ten-minute piece Raba for instruments and electronic sounds, inspired by the Marimetsa bog. New works by Liisa Hirsch, Märt-Matis Lill and Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes have been created in 2018; Kozlova’s Silent Witness had its world premiere in New York, where it was performed by ensemble U: in September this year.
The music of American composer Scott L. Miller has been described as ‘not for the faint of heart’. He is best known for his interactive electroacoustic chamber pieces but has also written orchestral, choral and multimedia compositions that are widely performed in Northern America and Europe. More recently he has experimented with combining virtual reality and live concerts, resulting in his work Raba, which will be performed at this concert.
‘My music is characterised by collaborative approaches to composition, the use of electronics, and improvisation. I explore transformational processes, performer/computer improvisation, and re-imagine older compositional processes through the lens of 21st century technology,’ the composer has said about his creative approaches.
Scott L. Miller holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the State University of New York at Oneonta, and has studied at the American Summer Music Institute and the Centre de Creation Musicale under Iannis Xenakis. He is a three-time McKnight Composer Fellow.
This year, he is a professor of at the St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, where he teaches composition, electroacoustic music and theory. He has also taught electroacoustic music as a guest professor at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes (1977) is an Estonian composer of Russian origin, who grew up in the border cities of Narva and Ivangorod. In 1995, she began studying music theory and composition at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music College under the tutelage of Toivo Tulev and continued her composition studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in 1999 under the supervision of first Jaan Rääts, and then Helena Tulve, who was also her supervisor in her master’s studies. From 2003 to 2004, she studied at the Tartini Conservatory in Trieste under Fabio Nieder, and she has also participated in several masterclasses (in Szombathely, Dundaga, Darmstadt).
Her works have been performed by several renowned groups in Estonia and abroad (including ensemble U:, Resonabilis, ERSO, ICTUS, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Phoenix Basel, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart and many others). She has won many local and international awards: Made of Hot Glass won third prize at the International Rostrum of Young Composers in Paris (2004), the Kranichstein musical prize at the summer course of new music in Darmstadt (2006), the Heino Eller prize (2008), as well as awards at the Estonian Music Days (2004, 2005, 2009 ja 2011). Her work Disintegration Chain (2011, Vienna) and Tule süütamine (‘Lighting the Fire’, 2018, Budapest) were selected among ten best works in the main competition of the International Rostrum of Composers. In 2015, she was awarded the annual award of the music endowment of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Tatjana Kozlova-Johannes is currently teaching composition at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music College. With Helena Tulve, she is also conducting masterclasses of ‘sound objects’, aimed at restoring and developing listening skills.
Liisa Hirsch (1984) began her musical career as a pianist. However, in 2009, she graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, specialising in composition under the supervision of Toivo Tulev, and received her master’s degree at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague under Peter Adriaansz and Cornelis de Bondt. She has worked as a teacher of free improvisation at the Tallinn Music School (2007-2009) and as a lecturer at Tallinn University (2011). From 2011 to 2013, she worked as the musical director at the Estonian Drama Theatre.
Hirsch’s oeuvre includes orchestral, chamber and choral works, as well as film and stage music. Her work is characterised by a pronounced focus on sound, microtonality, and architectural forms. Her more recent work has explored broadening the possibilities of listening. Hirsch’s works have been performed at the MATA festival, Gaudeamus Muziek Week, ISCM’s World Music Days, Ostrava Days for New Music, Estonian Music Days, as well as the Transit, Young Euro Classic, Next, Dark Music Days and AFEKT festivals. She has written works for the S.E.M. Ensemble, Figura Ensemble, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, ERSO, Ghost Ensemble, Nordic Affect, Konzert Minimal, Ostravska Banda, Elblag Chamber Orchestra and many others.
In 2009, Hirsch was awarded the Estonian Theatre Award for best original music (for the production of Hingede öö (‘Night of the Souls’)), and again in 2012. In 2015, she was recognised at the meeting of young composers in Apeldoorn, organised by the Dutch ensemble Orkest de Erenprijs. In 2016, her work Ascending ... Descending for string orchestra won the Au-tasu award for new musical works, issued by the LHV bank, and her orchestral piece Mechanics of Flying won the prize for best new work at the European Composer Award festival Young Euro Classics in Berlin. In 2017, she won the Heino Eller prize.
The work of Märt-Matis Lill (1975) reflects his interest in the oriental world and intellectual tradition. His oeuvre combines the sonoristic sound of the West and the refined and focused feel of oriental music. His works are often connected to poetry and many have been born from a poetic vision.
Märt-Matis Lill studied composition at the Tallinn Music School under Lepo Sumera and in 1999, he graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in the class of Lepo Sumera and Eino Tamberg. He then went on to gain a master’s degree from the Sibelius Academy under Veli-Matti Puumala. He has also studied with Louis Andriessen, Michael Jarrell, Luca Francescon and Magnus Lindberg and attended IRCAM and Centre Acanthes courses. Additionally, he has specialised in Chinese and Japanese studies and philosophy at the University of Helsinki.
In 2004, he won the Heino Eller prize and has won the Estonian Music Days award on several occasions (2006, 2007, 2012, 2015). Mu nuttev hääl on sügistuul (‘My weeping voice is the autumn wind’) was selected among the ten best works at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris (2007). Priit Tender’s animated films Mont Blanc, Rebasenaine and Köögi dimensioonid featuring his music have gained international success. His chamber opera Tulleminek (‘Into the Fire’, Vanemuine theatre, 2017; the production team also included Jan Kaus, Taago Tubin and Taavi Kull) won the annual award of the Estonian Theatre Union for its masterful integration of various theatrical formats (2018).
Märt-Matis Lill is the artistic director of the Pärnu Modern Music Days, the Chairman of the Estonian Association of Arnold Schönberg since 2004, and the Chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union since 2014.
Ensemble U: is currently the most active and best-known contemporary music ensemble in Estonia. They work without a conductor and are characterised by a sensitive sound, openness to bold experimental ideas and tackling even the most demanding pieces. In addition to Estonia, U: has performed at important international festivals like Time of Music (Viitasaari, Finland), Sounds New (Canterbury, United Kingdom), Nordic Music Days (Helsinki, Finland), Nuova Consonanza (Rome, Italy), Third Practice (Richmond, USA), Biennale di Musica Venezia (Italy), Virtuosi of 21th Century (Recife, Brazil), and Dark Music Days (Iceland). In the field of musical theatre, ensemble U: has repeatedly collaborated with Mart Kangro, who is internationally one of the most recognised Estonian choreographers and directors of conceptual performing arts.
In recent years, U: has worked extensively with projects involving technology, such as the interactive concert study Audience Orchestra, U:’s visual metronome system vClick (visual click-track system) and their current VR project.