The Art of Violin Playing

The Art of Violin Playing is a Neither Nor music-theatre production for 2 violinists, 2 dancers, 4 robotic arms, vocalist, electronics + additional performers. 

After the show, there will be a reception in the bar to celebrate the launch of Neither Nor. 

  • Participants: 
  • Yaniv Cohen (movement/performer) 
  • Alec Hall (violin/performer) 
  • Guido Henneboehl (electronics) 
  • Alwynne Pritchard (voice/performer, concept, direction, choreography and sound) 
  • Aline Sánchez (movement/performer) Lisa Simpson (costumes) 
  • Thorolf Thuestad (electronics, kinetics, sound and computing) 
  • Susanne Zapf (violin/performer) 

At his most skilled, a violinist’s technique is invisible. He becomes his instrument. The freedom experienced by a virtuoso when in complete command of his technique, also renders invisible the innate demands imposed upon him. His presence on stage is as a violinist above all else. His body is subsumed by this definition. The relationship between distinct instrumental techniques, musical notation in its many manifestations, established practices of interpretation and interaction, and personal taste or preference is a complex one, but nonetheless exists within a frame in which the violinist’s physical actions are highly refined, controlled and contained. What music might emerge, then, if this relationship between body and instrument was called into question? If the difference between a violinist and his technique became more visible, expansive, volatile and expressive? What happens when music emerges not as the controlled end to which all movements aspire but as a repercussion of self-contained physical experiences and interactions? And who does the virtuoso become when, in his quixotic aspiration for artistic expression, he must take for his bow wood from the trees? 

“Finally they passed the night among some trees, from one of which Don Quixote plucked a dry branch to serve him after a fashion as a lance…”

 – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha 

Commissioned by Susanne Zapf with funds from the Norsk komponistforening, with additional support from o espaço do tempo, Bergen kommune, Fond for utøvende kunstnere, Music Norway, the Harry and Alice Eiler Foundation, BEK (Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts) and Bergen Dansesenter.

Image from illustration by Antonio Saura for Don Quixote (1987).