>>> ASHTAYAMA - Song of Hours

by Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand

The title ASHTAYAMA refers to the ancient tradition, inherited from the rituals of the Hindu temples, dividing the daily cycle into 8 time belts of 3 hours each. The musical modes, called ragas, are chosen according to this subdivision. A similar relationship between music and natural cycles is manifest in the European Book of Hours, the monastic daily liturgy practised since medieval times.
In the live performance, eight songs follow the natural unfolding of the daily cycle through various shades of light and darkness; reflecting on the moods and rituals of life´s cycles; exploring the manifold aspects and hues of daily actions.
The interplay of music and light is obviously very relevant to the theme of this work and becomes an integral part of the performance.

> SHORT VIDEO CLIP of the performance

The CD (ARNR 0299) is released on AMIATA Rec, Florence 2000.

In the multimedia version with video artist Uli Sigg, the stage consists of a simple cylindrical structure, about 4 m high, of extremely light, transparent material acting as projection surface. The cloth is kept into position by two aluminium rings, 5 m in diameter.
Uli Sigg uses video sequences and loops mixing them live according to the flow of the music. He works with an especially designed interactive computer program, adding cohesion and flexibility to the visuals, leading each time to a new, fresh artistic outcome.

The music by Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand uses Indian music forms in fluid, non-conventional ways. Amelia´s vocal renditions and improvisations interact with Werner´s live multitrack mixing of her pre-recorded voice. No electronic effects alter its natural character though loops and digital delays are employed to create melodic / rhythmic patterns and drones. This project celebrates the voice as an instrument of great evocative power.

Terry Riley, composer, says about ASHTAYAMA´s music:
'' ASTHAYAMA is a powerful and moving work. A fragrant garland of ragas progresses through the time periods of the day and night revealing the subtle shades of color and mood which are at the heart of the treasured tradition of Dhrupad music. In ASHTAYAMA, tradition and experimentation reach a fine tuned balance contributing to a new viewpoint of an ancient form.''

David Toop, musican and writer, comments:
''...Dhrupad´s austerity would seem to run in opposition to much experimental music, yet this collaboration between Amelia and Werner Durand celebrates restraint and precision as positive virtues, creating a spare, beautiful music that glows with purpose and clarity. Listening to the final piece, "Deep Night", I hear a music of mysterious force that moves beyond the fusions of the past, holding ancient and future in precarious balance. Its breathy pulsations, swooping melismas and perspectival illusions construct and decompose an intangible maze of shadowy pathways in which new identities flutter with new life. ''

ASHTAYAMA-Song of Hours is an ongoing and flexible project which can take on different shapes, mix various media and be adapted to given venues.
Existing versions are the following:

• concert, including Amelia Cuni (singing and dance) and Werner Durand (live-mixing) with video by Yvonne Mohr and light design by Fred Pommerehn

• music/theatre performance, with a stage-set/installation by Fred Pommerehn.

• multimedia performance, with interactive video projections and live mixing by Uli Sigg

• encounter with the European singing tradition relating to the 'Book of Hours' (i.e. Gregorian chorals and Hidegard von Bingen’s music), in collaboration with Early Music singers such as SCHOLA CANTORUM NÜRNBERG, MARIA JONAS, ARS CHORALIS COELN

• installation

ASHTAYAMA - SONG OF HOURS has been produced and premiered at Podewil in Berlin (Dec. 3rd-5th,1999) and at the ZKM in Karlsruhe (Jan. 28th-30th, 2000). This original version had: video by Lillevän and light/stage design by Fred Pommerehn, direction by Claudio De Maglio.
The concert version has been performed at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London (June 24th, 2001); at the Tropical Museum in Amsterdam (Nov.24th, 2001).

During 2002, concerts in Torrelavega/Spain for the festival EXPERIMENTA 21 (March20th) and in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil at CCBB (Aug. 20th).
New productions at the Altstadtfest in Düsseldorf (TANZHAUS, Sept.25th 2002) with video artist Uli Sigg. On Oct.12th at the church St.Egidien in Nürnberg, a joint performance of ASHTAYAMA and songs from the European Book of Hours interpreted by the Early Music vocal ensemble SCHOLA CANTORUM NÜRNBERG with Fred Pommerehn (light/stage design) and at the Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin (Nov.15th-16th) with an installation by Fred Pommerehn.
On February 22nd 2003, Ashtayama with Uli Sigg was presented at the IJsbreker in Amsterdam and on August 10th 2003 at the AKADEMIE DER KÜNSTE in Berlin, for the festival CONCEPTUALISMS.
In the year 2004: on February 20th at the Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin; on March 5th, at the OTHER MINDS Festival, Yerba Buena Theatre in S.Francisco, On April 13th, 2004 at the Rome AUDITORIUM.
On Sept. 25th at the Altstadtfest in Düsseldorf (with Schola Cantorum Nürnberg/Fred Pommerehn) and on Oct. 6th at Remscheid. On June 29th 2005: STIMMENFESTIVAL, Basel.
in 2006, Ashtayama was presented at the SERRALVES FOUNDATION in Porto and at the festival TORINO SPIRITUALITA’. In 2007 at BURGHOF LÖRRACH (D) and in LORCA (E) at the festival Espirelia Trascendental.

ASHTAYAMA-Song of Hours is a co-production of Podewil-Berlin, ZKM-Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe and Vettori Ultramondo s.r.l.Udine (Italy) with the friendly support of the Werkstatt der Kulturen in Berlin.

Press reviews are available in the PRESS section

>>>Download PDF of ASHTAYAMA
TecRider of the multimedia performance with video artist ULI SIGG

A demo-CDR with excerpts from the multimedia performance with Uli Sigg and a complete DVD documentation is also available. Please, contact us!