Highlights from the final Mensch, Musik! concert with RSB

Across six major concerts in two years, alongside the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the Tauchgold team, we have dug deeper into what is possible within the space between classical and electronic music performance. Always with the aim of opening up classical music to new – especially younger – audiences, the concerts in the Mensch, Musik! series became increasingly bold in their format and programming. We’re taking a moment to look back on the final concert in the series, “Mensch, Musik! #9 – Leading (Astray)”, which took place last month and was their most ambitious event yet. Many thanks to Felix Löchner for documenting the event so beautifully.

Samaquias and Emme's collaborative music production

Bringing us full circle, Electronic Music Production & Performance alumnus Samaquias Lorta returned to the Haus des Rundfunks last month to conclude the Mensch, Musik! series he helped to open during his performance back in October 2022. While Samaquias’ performance continued his explorations of live feedback systems, he used the theme of leadership to explore his practice from a new angle. Together with Emme Moises – collaborator, fellow Electronic Music Production & Performance alumna and former classmate – they performed their original three-part composition “Deflecting Prism”. Emme and Samaquias took turns to lead each other in the first two movements, before harmonising in their third movement.

Samaquias created sound using contact microphones on resonate bodies such as glass bowls or clay pots. His contribution was playful at times, leading the audience to a state of curiosity and at other moments rooted in reality, using noises that everyone would have recognised in a second – like coins rattling in a glass jar.

“Using objects not associated with sound creation is interesting because it colours the timbres in unexpected ways. This form of electronic composition is not seen often”

– Samaquias Lorta

Meanwhile, Emme performed live on a modular synthesiser. At times, she played in a structured way, leaning into a precision that contrasted the unpredictable nature of Samaquias’ DIY feedback systems. For many in the audience, it may have been the first time they had heard this type of instrument. Emme turned dials and flipped switches to create sound through a variety of techniques, including patching, blending and harmonising that either led or responded to Samaquias.

You can find out more about the ideas that went into their performance in this interview conducted ahead of the concert.

Seamlessly mixing electronic music, orchestra and contemporary performance

Strengthened by the experience of the five previous Mensch, Musik! concerts, the interplay between orchestra, electronic music and contemporary performance was very fluid. Special guests Jocelyn B. Smith, Veronika Bachfischer and pupils of the Sophie Scholl School performed poems from Saul Williams’ and the late Thomas Kessler’s collaboration “said the shotgun to the head”. Audience member Christina, who attended both the first and last Mensch, Musik! concerts, commented on how the programme had evolved. Where Mensch, Musik #5 was more traditional in format, "Leading (Astray)" “interwove contemporary performance throughout the event”. 

The teenagers from the Sophie Scholl School formed a rap choir that moved around the concert hall, vocally and physically underscoring the emotive readings delivered by activist and singer Jocelyn B. Smith. Swiss composer and electronic music pioneer Thomas Kessler, who sadly passed away a month before the concert, received a special mention at the end of the show.

Ossagrosse’s visual installation in the Kultursaal showcase

After the performance, crowds mingled in the Haus des Rundfunk’s impressive Kultursaal, in which first year Music & Sound Design for Visual Media student Ossagrosse projected his short film installation “/Sleep”. Set in supermarkets, busy streets and other everyday environments, these AI- generated short stories were a reminder of the moment of technological advance we are living through, as well as our shared commitment to exploring these technologies.

Missing Mensch, Musik! already? 

Although this marks the end of the Mensch, Musik! series, you can continue experiencing some of the fruits of our ongoing collaboration with RSB with two June performances... 

Chamber concert at Kühlhaus

On Thursday 20 June, Creative Production (Music) MA students Jonas Kern and Grgur Savic will be performing original pieces alongside five classical musicians in the Kuhlhaus, as part of the RSB’s chamber music series. Jonas, along with the acoustic musicians, will perform Electronic Music Production & Performance Certificate Lead Benjamin Bacon’s “Gesture Contours I-III” – a graphic modular score for acoustic and electronic instruments. The piece stems from projects from our HyperSynth collaboration with the RSB and uses graphic forms commonly seen when describing synthetic sound. Grgur Savic’s “ETERNAL FORCES OF SAVIGNY’S PRIME” is written for electronics, flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn and bassoon, and will combine analogue handcrafted techniques with digitised computer methods. Grgur’s animated graphic score encourages a creative approach and musical decision-making from those performing.

Atmosphères Vol. 3 at Katerblau

On the same evening at Kater Blau, you can see a longer rendition of Samaquias and Emme’s “Deflecting Prism” at the Atmosphères Vol. 3 listening sessions. The event will feature several Catalyst alumni and wider community members doing their thing in Berlin, including explorations of live visuals and painting with light as well as modular performances, discussions and DJ sets.