Portrait Gene Coleman

Film & Music

Gene Coleman

Gene Coleman

© Nick Lerman

Past Dates

19:00 Artist talk
Gene Coleman in discussion with Lydia Rilling

For many years now, composer, bass clarinettist and film director Gene Coleman has focused his work on the global shift in the relationship between culture and music. He is active in different genres and ensembles and incorporates various media. Complex notations as well as free improv define his works. He is particularly interested in Asian cultures and the tradition in the region of coupling different art forms. In his artistic work, he explores spaces between sound and vision and attempts to think about tradition and contemporary global culture in a new way.

As recipient of the American Academy’s 2013 “Berlin Music Prize”, Gene Coleman is currently a guest in Berlin and presents two new works at MaerzMusik: his music for the Japanese silent film “A Page of Madness” by filmmaker Teinosuke Kinugasa and his own film “Spiral Network”. This will be accompanied live by the Viennese Ensemble PHACE under the direction of Simeon Pironkoff. Voice, classical string instruments and bass clarinets, as well as traditional Japanese instruments (such as Shō and Koto), e-guitar and electronics will all be implemented.

The idea of bringing together timbre taken from different contexts also defines the composition for the silent film “A Page of Madness”, in which he combines Japanese mouth organs with flute, clarinet and string trio. Traditional sounds are interwoven with contemporary sounds – the composition of additional sound layers that refine the music’s texture and timbre enhances the powerful imagery and emotionally charged nature of the film.

Teinosuke Kinugasa realised “A Page of Madness” in 1926 in collaboration with Japanese Nobel prize winner for literature Yasunari Kawabata. The film itself was lost for a long time until Kinugasa himself found a copy in his shed. “A Page of Madness” bears witness to a comprehensive spectrum of early avant-garde, expressionist and surrealist film technology that was artistically implemented in order to outline a family drama and the madness of patients in a psychiatric institution – their nightmares and hallucinations, but also their touching charm and inner clarity.

Gene Coleman
Spiral Network
for film and ensemble with voice, shō, koto, bass clarinet, e-guitar, cello and electronics (2013) WP
Gene Coleman, direction/text
based on concepts by Buckminster Fuller and John Cage
Nick Lerman, film/editing

A Page of Madness
Silent film by Teinosuke Kinugasa (1926)
with music by Gene Coleman (2013) WP
Commissioned work by PHACE and Berliner Festspiele / MaerzMusik
Film print from the collection George Eastman House

Ensemble PHACE Vienna:
Naomi Sato, shō
Naoko Kikuchi, koto/vocals
Reinhold Brunner, bass clarinet
Botakoz Mukasheva, violin
Rafal Zalech, viola
Roland Schueler, cello
Burkhard Stangl, e-guitar

Simeon Pironkoff, conductor
Thomas Buckner, baritone

A production of PHACE in collaboration with Berliner Festspiele / MaerzMusik and The American Academy in Berlin. With support of Japan Foundation through Performing Arts Japan Program and Österreichisches Kulturforum Berlin