SCHLACHTEN | Refugees KM | Image © by Dan Farberoff

Letters on Cello

Refugees KM formed specifically for the festival DISPALCED 2015 and bring to the festival music programme a distinct sound world of unusual and disconnected electronic textures that convey the experiences of the displaced people in flight and dispersed across the globe. For their performance in the Mendelsohn Hall the music takes the experience of the renowned architect Erich Mendelsohn and his wife the, cellist Luise Maas, and there numerous correspondences through the letters they wrote to each other whilst he sought refuge from the political situation in 1930’s Germany. Certain phrases in the letters are incorporated into the music in order to convey a sonic sensation of the couple’s experience of displacement.

Following a “cello theatre” with reading extracts from the letters of Erich Mendelsohn and Luise Maas, the concert begins with a section from the opening of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima/Threnos den Opfern von Hiroshima (1961). This music quote is one of a number of quotes from the Polish composer within the Refugees KM performance. Penderecki’s work widely recognized for it’s deep humanitarianism as well as its daring experimentation, particularly in his earlier work, stretching conventional orchestral instruments to their sonic limit and in particular his writing for the cello and other stringed instruments.

Penderecki also experimented with electronics, which led to a very individual tone pallet, one carefully organized in order to be able to draw on a sonic tapestry reflecting the composer’s concerns largely drawn from his childhood experience of witnessing the deportation of Jews to the concentration camps. Only later did the composer come to realize the dreadful reality of what he saw, and this was reflected in his music and continues to be so till this day.

For DISPLACED 2015 Refugees KM have chosen to quote a composer who spans the gap within the instrumental world of “classical music” and modern electronic music and who has had a direct experience of the displacement of a people whilst himself remaining firmly rooted in his own land, tradition and culture, yet challenging that tradition and culture, and therefore offering a unique insight into the turbulent world of the uprooted.

Other works quoted in the performance:

De Natura Sonoris I & II
The Dream of Jacob/Als Jakob erwachte

Copyright © 2014 Kunstbibliothek Staatliche Museen Berlin

SCHLACHTEN | Refugees KM | Image © by Emily Pütter
About Refugees KM

Refugees KM are an Anglo German duo consisting of Kristoff Becker and Michael Neil, formerly of the Berlin Electro Progressive Rock band Curious Egg. Together they perform a varied style of music ranging from experimental free form to ambient jazz. The music is totally improvised, expansive, intimate, and always adventurous.

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