s t a r g a z e' newest collaboration is with the lead singer of the band Buke and Gase, Arone Dyer. We are working with the US composer and vocalist on her emerging, highly individual solo material, with a view of making an album together, due for release in the spring of 2022. The record will be an instrumental song-cycle, with Arone accompanied solely by the contemporary-classical orchestration of s t a r g a z e. A Kickstarter campaign to help fund the recording process and release is launched on January 28th 2021.
Arone and stargaze met and performed together at the PEOPLE Festival and residency in Berlin in 2018 which was co-curated by The National's twin-brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and subsequently decided to embark on an album project. Arone's other creative outputs include her band Mistresses, the Drone-choir project, and composing music for various other occasions, groups and individuals.
You are very welcome, to take a look and maybe even support our Kickstarter Campaign. It starts on January 29th and lasts 4 weeks.
“Her antique-folk arrangements are deconstructed and brilliantly reassembled as sublimely orchestrated chamber pieces in which simplicity and sophistication waltz hand-in-hand” Uncut
“Terrific… this latest collaboration is a joy, adding fresh layers and cinematic elements to songs previously memorable for their haunting sparseness” Hot Press
“Spellbinding… her poetry emboldened by the multi-faceted backing, allowing the wonderment to expand multifariously.” The 405
Live In Dublin is comprised of one new cut titled ‘Bookmark’ and 13 more tracks plucked from Lisa Hannigan's extensive back-catalogue; one that’s spanned 17 years and several award nominations, from the Mercury Prize to Ireland’s Choice Music Prize and Meteor Music Awards. This meeting of minds captured on the album was the product of a chance-encounter at Cork’s Sounds From A Safe Harbour Festival in 2015. Both performing at the festival, it was there where Lisa met André.
The following summer, at Berlin’s PEOPLE Festival, stargaze would end up inviting Lisa to perform a couple of her songs with them on stage and the project spiraled on from there. “Walking in I felt vaguely trepidatious. Sometimes working with classically trained musicians can be slightly nerve-wracking as a singer songwriter because they speak a language so beautifully fluently that I can only fumble towards,” Hannigan recalls: “In a band, so much communication is done through the shoulders, the lift of an eyebrow, the feel of a small group breathing and dancing together. It’s hard to extrapolate that out into twenty, forty, even eighty people! It can feel like a glorious ocean liner tied to a creaking rowboat.”
Thankfully, Lisa’s apprehensions would prove to be unfounded: “When we started to play though, it felt like all of stargaze had climbed aboard my rowboat. They approach a song very much as a band would, with an enthusiasm and musicality which immediately felt like home. I was overwhelmed to hear my songs in such a widescreen way, going from black and white to technicolour, and hoped we could do more.” And just like that, the idea of a live album was born: “The idea of eventually making a record and playing more together felt very natural and easy. Having made three records of my own I had a notion of making a live record but wanted to do it in a slightly more unusual way. We called on some wonderful arrangers over the following couple of years and built our setlist up one song and festival at a time.”
For our first ever foray into the dance world, s t a r g a z e co-created the music for a new production of renowned choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and his dance company Teac Damsa. Mám is a co-production of the Dublin Theatre Festival, Sadler's Wells London, and the New Zealand Festival. Musically, the project started with workshops of Irish Concertina player and stargaze in Berlin and London, and adding dancers, in Auckland over a period of more than a year. Based on traditional material interpreted by Begley, stargaze created a series of new pieces, improvisations, interludes and arranged accompaniments that Keegan-Dolan and his dancers responded to and vice -versa. In a unique co-creative process music and dance developed in parallel,refined in a shared six weeks rehearsal process in the remote village of Dingle in West-Kerry, spiritual home of Teac Damsa (and actual home of Begley and MKD)
from AdR blogpost:
MÁM is a dance project we were invited on by choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and his company Teac Damsa. It started with tentative workshops between our musicians and Irish Concertina player Cormac Begley, to explore if we could find a common language and vibe in playing together, quite possibly towards making new music together. We met twice, in Berlin and Amsterdam (stargaze’ two headquarters, you may count Rotterdam in now as a third one) before three of our musicians were invited to travel to New Zealand (as New Zealand Festival was one of the main co-producers of the work) in February 2019 to take part in further workshops that this time involved the dancers as well! I’d say that by the time the actual project started for good, we had developed a pretty good understanding of each others’ personalities, artistry and aims. The week in Wellington also produced some musical material that, alongside Cormac’s original tunes, would form the backbone of the music for MÀM.
Then, in the summer of 2019, stargaze spent no less than 5 weeks with the whole company in West-Kerry, in the beautiful little fishing town of Dingle, home of Keegan-Dolan, rehearsing and creating the final work in a community centre.
As a conductor, I am used to an orchestra, as in the musicians joining a music theatre or dance production fairly last minute, 1 – 2 weeks (often less) before the premiere, with not much room for maneuver structurally or musically. The music has been set all along. This was an entirely different process, that not only made us co-creators of the score, but the whole work took its shape under the influence of every individual dancer and musician in the room. I think it’s no hyperbole to say that this experience changed everyone’s outlook on what we do, our creative roles and processes completely and irreversibly.
And that’s before I even talk about the content of MÀM, which casts a group of people, maybe family, old and new friends, couples, a society in a place where togetherness, apartness, love and loss, support, meetings farewells are undergoing multiple manifestations and transformations like life has to, to be complete. A longing, a real struggle for but succeeding in the coming together of human kinds (sic) lays at the heart of the very emotional piece – and therefore touched on everything we are going through this year and need to consider for our future.
After premiering at the Dublin Theatre Festival in September 2019, MÀM made it to Sadlers Wells, London, in February 2020, as well as the New Zealand and Perth Festivals at the beginning of March, before the company just made it home for lockdown.
ABC – (not) Another Beethoven Cycle has essentially come out of the question how it would be possible to present a cycle of all of Beethoven’s symphonies (the perceived pinnacle of the classical orchestral repertoire, and benchmark for every such ensemble) as a world-premiere. So the idea was to ask 9 different artists, not all composers or even musicians necessarily, to take one symphony each and make their own version or arrangement of it, or a new work based on it. We were specifically interested in involving individuals who would not normally perform this music, or have been educated on or in these works, whose relevance (which we believe in) may be questioned today, and should, not least in what was billed as the 250th anniversary year of the composer.
We started with no less than the monumental NINTH, including the famous Ode to Joy, which has recently come to renewed prominence as a kind of European anthem, sung by a massed choir and 4 soloists in the final movement of the work.
Our version developed in collaboration with electronic conceptional auteur Matthew Herbert, premiered on February 1 and 2 at the Barbican Centre London, coincidentally also the weekend ‚Brexit’ came into effect in the UK.
This project is a very multifaceted affair, as the four movements became different projects each, bound by the central idea of the relationship between individual and society, the questions of ‚Equality’ and sisterhood and brotherhood of all human kind negotiated in Schiller’s Ode. The last movement is a community project which enables choirs of all ages and abilities to sing the notoriously difficult piece, usually the domain more ambitious choral societies and professional choirs, in a much more humble and less noisy manner than is practice.
Although many of our Beethoven concerts got cancelled through 2020 (co-commissioners included the BBC Proms, the Helsinki Festival, Lucerne Theatre and Festival, the Barbican Centre and Cologne Philharmonie) we still managed to perform our versions of Beethoven ONE (re-composed by Aart Strootmann) and NINE again, in very different settings and circumstances, away from the classical concert hall usually home for these works. This was another objective of our project, to ‚disseminate’ this quite radical music and concepts amongst audiences that wouldn't usually even listen to Beethoven, through the lens of 21st century artists, in less formal settings (that were adaptable and would become successively more Covid-proof also, without much ado).
Beethoven EIGHT was arranged and re-composed for stargaze by Greg Saunier, composer and drummer of the US band Deerhoof and a long-term collaborator of ours. He re-arranged the order of the movements and partly combined them, in an artistic shuffle-play style, but kept tvery true to he musical material. Yet his idiosyncratic orchestration on the one hand pinpoints the particular characteristics of this symphony as well as highlights Saunier's own sense of groove and tempo in this work famous for it's 'metronomique' features.
Beethoven ONE "What I like about the third movement of the first symphony is that it's basically a scherzo (even though Beethoven doesn't call it that (yet)). The many, relatively short ideas are fantastic to mull over and over again, putting them in different perspective by orchestration, tempo and timbre. The overall curve of the piece is that I start the work almost as written (after a wink towards the opening of the first movement) and slow the music down more and more, stretching the notes and harmonies so that it ends in a sound that is close to the synthesizer music of Boards of Canada. I've arranged BoC's seminal album Hi-Scores for the group 4 years ago." (Aart Strootman)
Beethoven TWO For this symphony we asked four different composers to take on a movement each, and left the brief wide open as to how much they would 're-arrange/compose' or write pretty much a new, their one piece of music, taking elements of Beethoven's music as inspiration:
Josephine Stephenson - Beet 2-1
Kate Moore - 0202B.
Sarah Nemtsov - Scherzo
Nicole Lizée - 2 | IV
For our musicians, creative, individual multi-instrumentalists from different backgrounds who mostly decided against an orchestra career early on, and may have last played a Beethoven Symphony in youth orchestra, or never at all, the sense of discovery they experienced so far on this journey through Beethoven’s cosmos has been, in the words of some, quite ‚mind-blowing’ and therefore it’s become clear to us that we should continue this journey and project, regardless of Beethoven year or not. Beethoven was a child of the ‚Enlightenment’, an artist and personality engaged in public political discourse, intriguingly placed and immersed in the midst of Immanuel Kant’s and Schiller’s discussions of what Freedom, Education meant and what constitutes a self-responsible, morally ethical citizen.
Some eminent contemporary philosophers (most recently the German Markus Gabriel, who holds the chair of Modern Philosophy at.. coincidence?... Bonn University) have found evidence in 2020 for their claim that we need ‚a new enlightenment’, for our time. This extends of course beyond any solution for the pandemic and how we may or may not continue to live after, this includes of course the far more crucial impact of climate change and all it’s connected geopolitical ramifications.
An effort towards a new view and understanding of Beethoven’s music, firstly, cannot end at the close of 2020 and secondly, can communicate through art the necessity of this New Enlightenment.The third movement from Beethoven‘s First Symphony combined with all four from his Second (together compromising the „12th“) provide the starting point for this collaborative suite.
In 2014, our guitarist, arranger and "in-house" composer Aart Strootman mentioned his interest to translate Boards of Canada material onto acoustic instruments, decoding the rich sounds of the legendary electronic music duo. We performed his material in April; 2015 for the first time and from there the material developed and evolved up until we recorded at Colin Benders' Kytopia in Utrecht. In that sense, stay tuned for any spontaneous drop of Hi Scores!
In a time where electronic music was hyper rhythmic, futuristic and more digital than ever, Scottish duo Boards of Canada chose another path and landed at the other side of the spectrum. Warm synthesizer sounds and gloomy chorusses evoked nostalgia, allowing the listener to become aware that it is already the future and there is nothing but beauty in the analog past.
Melody and mood, prime ingredients of Board of Canada’s music, were screaming to get arranged into the strings and woodwinds of stargaze. By translating the synthesised sounds into physical instruments the group unravels the orchestral quality of Hi-Scores and brings the timeless chord progressions and elongated melodies from your headphones onto the stage. Brooms, sticks, strings and winds, played by the multi-instrumentalists of stargaze it fits the music like a glove.
What did you know as a kid, that you forgot when you grew up? Can you go back to this childlike knowledge, or is it lost forever? Composer Morris Kliphuis, writer Lucky Fonz III, singer Pitou and collective s t a r g a z e dig through layers of civilization and intellectualism, searching for our hidden playfulness and fantasy.
High Dive is a collaboration of creative forces Pitou and s t a r g a z e with composer Morris Kliphuis and the eclectic singer-songwriter Lucky Fonz III. A colourful and psychedelic interplay between voice, ensemble and eyes that consider everything they see as new and exciting.
we have been one of a handful of ensembles given a ‚ReLoad’-grant by the Bundeskulturstiftung (the German governments’ arts foundation – they already supported our Spitting Chamber Music project in 2017) for a project which could be developed, pursued and delivered under the current circumstances, as a way of continuing to work as a group remotely. Our proposal had the totally serious working-titel ‚starTracks’ – and involves commissions to 4 composers that are also known as producers. The brief is to write pieces for which each musician can record their parts at home, or even develop them in online conversations and workshops with the composer/producer. The tracks are then put together and finalized, possibly treated, remixed and layered back at the creators’ home/studio.
It’s a recording project foremost, one that we can present as a little album once mixing and mastering is done, but also a co-creative effort which puts each musician in direct exchange with the composer.
We chose artists that we already know a little or even very well, and vice versa, to get the most out of the short-term initiative, and while not being able to meet and work it out in person: And the names we can reveal are: