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Masterfully / Alice Sara Ott / Echoes Of Life - NOSPR

Masterfully / Alice Sara Ott / Echoes Of Life

Tickets: 40-100 zł
Pascal Albandopulos / DG
Alice Sara Ott – piano
Hakan Demirel – architect/digital art installation
'In The Beginning Was'
Francesco Tristano
'In The Beginning Was'
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 1 in C major, No. 2 in A minor, No. 3 in G major, No. 4 in E minor
'Infant Rebellion'
György Ligeti
'Musica ricercata': Sostenuto – Misurato – Prestissimo
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 5 in D major, No. 6 in B minor, No. 7 in A major, No. 8 in F sharp minor, No. 9 in E major
'When The Grass Was Greener'
Nino Rota
Valse lento molto cantabile, un poco liberamente
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 10 in C sharp minor, No. 11 in B major, No. 12 in G sharp minor, No. 13 in F sharp major, No. 14 in E flat minor, No. 15 in D flat major
'No Roadmap To Adulthood'
Chilly Gonzales
Prulude in C sharp major
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 16 in B flat minor, No. 17 in A flat major, No. 18 in F minor
Tōru Takemitsu
'Litany' (In Memory of Michael Vyner): Adagio
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 19 in E flat major, No. 20 in C minor
'A Path To Where'
Arvo Pärt
'Für Alina'
Fryderyk Chopin
Preludes, Op. 28: No. 21 in B flat major, No. 22 in G minor, No. 23 in F major, No. 24 in D minor
'Lullaby To Eternity'
Alice Sara Ott
'Lullaby To Eternity' (on fragments of Lacrimosa from Requiem in D minor, K. 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)


Production manager for live performances: Clemens Malinowski
Digital art installation: Hakan Demirel
Production: 19:4 Architects Team
Stars (Night): Ahmet Dogu Ipek (125x360 cm, Indian ink and jags on cotton paper, 2017), Courtesy of Vehbi Koc Foundation Contemporary Art Collection, Istanbul
Dress designed by Sonia Trinkl
Photo credit: Pascal Albandopulos
Programme notes written by Alice Sara Ott

Echoes Of Life is a musical and visual journey that not only reflects on the thoughts and personal moments that continue to influence my life but also portrays how I see my role as a classical musician today and how I want to expand my artistic horizon.

The dimensions and possibilities in which we can express ourselves artistically and connect with other art forms are things I have always been fascinated by. With this project I realize a long-held dream of mine to combine the worlds of music and architecture. The collaboration with architect Hakan Demirel gives Echoes Of Life a physical dimension, a visual narrative. Although Hakan and I had much admiration for each other's work, we had no idea during our first encounter how the bringing together of our two art forms would materialize. Through many hour-long conversations and the intense exchange of thoughts and ideas, a joint vision and dream started to take shape.

The music in this program is accompanied by a digital video installation which Hakan designed to show an architectural reflection of the story. It lives and breathes with the changing organism of sound and takes us on a virtual journey through the microcosm of Echoes Of Life.

I grew up with a music education in which the highest priority was given to studying the vast heritage of classical music and upholding traditional performance practices. And while being grateful in many ways for the strict discipline my teachers gave me and despite treasuring the same values for many years, I notice that there was little space or encouragement to explore classical music in the context of our time.

To me, music is one of the most intimate, honest, and powerful forms of expression that can be shared between human beings. And while I will always appreciate and have a passion for the legacy and richness of classical music, I have witnessed how the expectation of certain education and decorum creates artificial exclusivity and exclusion and separates us according to age and class.

So, what is my role and responsibility as a classical musician today? A major part of the repertoire I play was written many decades and centuries ago, and although I do not change the original score, I interpret it and have the unique opportunity to contextualize this music in the here and now.

When I reflect upon the composers whose music we value so highly, they have always challenged, redefined, and pushed the boundaries of music itself and everything that surrounds it. Why shouldn’t we do the same thing? Why not carry their music and their spirit forward instead of insisting upon, or reproducing bygone traditions and limitations?

We can reflect on the past – we even carry it with us – but we cannot recreate it, because our ability to see, think, and experience is also tied to the present. Due to the speed with which we communicate and consume, we now live in an age in which we find ourselves redefining our social values, perceptions, and demands all of the time. As a consequence, we are exposed to the constant danger of fragmentation and isolation. Music strengthens our solidarity and encourages social consciousness and inclusivity, and it can only exist in the community. We must not limit ourselves in how we choose to identify and connect with it.

While until the 19th century, a prelude represented a prologue or introduction preceding the main work, Fryderyk Chopin established with his Preludes, Op. 28 a collection of 24 individual character pieces. They are very different from each other and yet together they form a complex oeuvre. To me, they reflect life, which feels built on a series of preludes: a collection of moments, all connected in some way. One step leads to the next – at times we walk faster, sometimes slower, other times in a circle and there are times we face a dead end and have to turn around. The end of one chapter is always the beginning of another. And as life sometimes is, we come across unforeseen obstacles, we stumble and we may find ourselves on a new, unknown path.

For this album, I selected seven contemporary compositions, and in combination with the Preludes, they embody personal experiences and thoughts that have guided and shaped my life thus far. When I first experimented with this idea, I didn’t anticipate what this would come to mean to me emotionally and reveal to me musically. I recall the moment when I heard the entire compilation for the first time and realized that the contemporary works confirm how Chopin’s Preludes are modern, provocative, and timeless.

We change over time and with the constant challenges we face with our society and environment. Our ways of thinking and our memories change, too. These shifts in perception accompany us from the past to the present and from the present to the future – new shapes and meanings continue to resonate within us – as if they were echoes of our lives.

I would also like to express my gratitude to my dear friend, composer, and pianist Francesco Tristano for his composition, In The Beginning Was, which he wrote for this project, to artist Ahmet Doğu İpek for contributing his work Stars (Night), and to fashion designer Sonia Trinkl for creating my outfit.

[Alice Sara Ott]

IN THE BEGINNING WAS   |   Francesco Tristano – In The Beginning Was

As a young child, before starting to play the piano, I was obsessed with jigsaw puzzles and how with every little piece that was assembled the bigger picture became visible. When I finally started to play the piano, the first composer I fell in love with was Johann Sebastian Bach. For me, the structures of his music echoed how a puzzle was put together – beginning with one line, one melody, that is then joined by others to build different shapes, patterns, and tonalities.

In thinking about how I wanted to begin this album, I wrote to Francesco Tristano who I’ve been making music with for a long time and who is not just a close friend, but like family to me. I told him I was looking for something that would echo this early time in my life, while also connecting a line to the first prelude by Chopin, which was inspired by Bach’s Prelude in C major.

Francesco wrote this piece entitled In The Beginning Was and for me, this new composition represents the spirit of our time. It’s a soundtrack that holds the past, represents the present, and carries us to the future.

INFANT REBELLION    |   György Ligeti – Musica ricercata I.

Pushing my boundaries and challenging my parent’s patience was a crucial period in my childhood.

The first piece from György Ligeti’s Musica ricercata contains one single pitch, articulated at different octaves and time intervals. It reminds me of that particular time when I had just discovered the word “No” – one single syllable that gave me a feeling of independence and power. A limited word – with limitless expressions.

My infant rebellion ended when I learned how to replace “No” with “Yes”. And in Ligeti‘s piece, it‘s only the very last note that sets a new tone.

WHEN THE GRASS WAS GREENER   |   Nino Rota – Valse

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder...

High Hopes by Pink Floyd is a song I loved in my teenage years – a time when I still saw the world through the rose-tinted spectacles of naivety and fearlessness and just romanticized everything. This is also when I fell in love with movies by Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti and listened for hours to the music of the composer Nino Rota.

My recent discovery of Rota’s waltz made me nostalgic for this time in my life. And when I first heard it, I mistook it for a piece by Chopin. The way the melodies, ornaments and scales of Rota’s waltz blend in with the Chopin Preludes...

It’s almost like it was always supposed to be there.

NO ROADMAP TO ADULTHOOD   |   Chilly Gonzales – Prelude In C sharp major

In my early 20s, I started to be on the road most of the time, discovering countries and places I had never been to before. My way of seeing things changed gradually and while every step was filled with curiosity, I started to experience greater falls and obstacles. I learned to accept that failure and the fear that comes with it are inevitable companions.

This is also the time when I developed a longing for the place and people I grew up with, even though I knew that they were a part of my life from which I was graduating.

When reflecting on that time, the Prelude in C sharp major by Chilly Gonzales came to my mind. It not only echoes the music at the beginning of this album, but it also provides an end to a chapter.

Something with the same origin is now taking on a different shape.

IDENTITY   |   Tōru Takemitsu – Litany I.

Composer Tōru Takemitsu once stated: „Choosing to be in music clarified my identity“ – I relate to the statement. Because music is the only environment where I get to define who I am.

I know how to identify and define myself outside of music, too. But this is more complex and it took me almost three decades to claim that for myself.

My identity doesn’t lie with a nationality.
It doesn’t lie with my father’s homeland, Germany, in which I was born and in which I still live.
It doesn’t lie with my mother’s homeland Japan, in which I never lived.
It doesn’t lie with these two languages which I speak natively.
And that’s not because I do not know how to relate to their mentality and culture.
It’s because I continue to get categorized and “othered” based on how I look.

“Where are you from?”
“Where are you originally from?”

What may seem like a harmless question, asked with good intentions, is a question I have been asked all of my life – sometimes multiple times a day –  and it has made me doubt and feel conflicted about what my identity is. It made me question where and how I belong. Every time I am asked I get reminded that I don’t look like I belong.

If I am asked where I am a local, I have an answer.
If I am asked what I do, I have an answer.
If I am asked what food I like, I have an answer.

I define myself by how I think, how I act and how I connect with people.

That’s what makes me who I am.

A PATH TO WHERE   |   Arvo Pärt – Für Alina

Für Alina by Arvo Pärt I identify with one of the most vulnerable and fragile moments of my life.

From the first time I heard a piano at age three, I had this desire to play.

I wanted to be a musician.  And over the years, I certainly experienced doubts and insecurities, but I never even considered that there would be a moment where my path – which is guided by a life in music – could be questioned.

Three years ago I started to experience physical symptoms that alarmed me because they had an effect on my fine motor skills and I feared they would interfere with my ability to play. It took several months of examinations, tests, and a stay in the hospital to finally determine that I had multiple sclerosis.

On the very day I was diagnosed, I gave a recital in my hometown Munich with the program of my previous album Nightfall. In the middle of the concert, while playing the Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 by Frédéric Chopin, I started to feel numbness and cramping which ultimately led to a loss of control in my left arm. I had to stop playing for the first time in my life. The standstill of space and time I experienced at that moment on stage and its association with the tonality of C minor are things that will continue to stay with me.

It’s been two years since this moment. I have found wonderful doctors, a fitting treatment and I am currently symptom-free. Right now multiple sclerosis is not curable, but I can say with pride that I don’t feel limited by this condition in any way.

Figuring out how to rebuild trust and confidence in myself was an intense journey. The path of how to understand my new condition and how to listen to and read the signals of my body is ongoing.

There is mindfulness with which we walk step by step into a new, unknown space...
With which we go deep inside ourselves to listen, and be conscious...
The awareness your mind and body sometimes demand...

All that I find captured so completely in this vulnerable and delicate work by Arvo Pärt.

LULLABY TO ETERNITY   |   Alice Sara Ott – Lullaby To Eternity (on fragments of Lacrimosa from Requiem in D minor, K. 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)

Chopin‘s last Prelude begins and ends definitively in wrath and agony. I wanted to find an epilogue that responded to it. That was more open and indefinite.

Mozart‘s Lacrimosa is part of his Requiem, which he composed at the end of his life, but could not complete. In this music, mortality turns into immortality and the finite into the eternal.

My arrangement echoes fragments of it in the distance. It is filled with open spaces.

Spaces that leave room for questions unanswered.

Duration of the concert: approx. 65 minutes

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