Concert / Dance

Ensemble Modern | CocoonDance

Enno Poppe, conductor
Herrmann | Poppe

Bodies in motion, from nought to one hundred. Anyone listening to Arnulf Herrmann’s “Hard Boiled Variations – 15 ½ Cycles” will experience rapid acceleration accompanied by an intentional loss of control. Enno Poppe’s “Körper” is similarly eventful: conducted by the composer, the Ensemble Modern pays homage to the big band sound by exploring a broad range of playing cultures: from the traditional big band to the Balkan banda to free jazz.

Music making men hanging on strings in a tree.

Brave brass band from Emir Kusturica’s film “Black Cat, White Cat”

© IMAGO / United Archives

Past Dates

Acceleration and losing control are key aspects of Arnulf Herrmann’s “Hard Boiled Variations – 15 ½ Cycles”. This is summed up in an epigram prefacing the score from the American management consultant Tom Peters, which, quoting the racing driver Mario Andretti, states: “If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” And, indeed, as a result of Herrmann’s “hardnosed” changes, this is a work in whose cycle of 15 ½ variations the duration of the running time is reduced from five minutes to three seconds and ultimately to a single chord: in other words, the shortest variation is over 100 times faster than the original theme. Dance company CocoonDance Company from Bonn provides a spatial component to the process of acceleration, which ends in sudden stasis - driven by acoustic and physical impulses, a communicative act emerges between all those present. The 40-minute work is directed by the composer and conductor Enno Poppe, who also presents his own energetic big band piece “Körper”: “The big band is a set of instruments that suggests golden ages and corduroy trousers. But not only does it possess immense sonic potential, this has barely been exhausted because what we understand as big band music has been so narrowly defined.” Poppe also wrote “Körper” as a homage to the excellent Ensemble Modern, one of the most successful German new music groups, which has been touring internationally since 1980.

Concert Programme

Arnulf Herrmann (*1968)
Hard Boiled Variations – 15 ½ Cycles
for ensemble and dancers (2021)

Enno Poppe (*1969)
for large ensemble (2021)


CocoonDance Company (for Arnulf Herrmann’s composition)
Rafaële Giovanola choreography
Leonardo Rodrigues assistant choreographer
Fa-Hsuan Chen costumes
Boris Kahnert, Jan Wiesbrock lighting design

Ensemble Modern
Enno Poppe conductor

Jürgen Martin live electronics
Felix Dreher sound direction

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event. Funded by the Gesellschaft zur Verwertung von Leistungsschutzrechten (GVL)