Yannis Kyriakides (b. 1969)
Ein Schemen (2017)
for choir, harp, and electronics
Yannis Kyriakides is a renowned Dutch composer, sound and multimedia artist, and professor at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Born in Cyprus; in 1975, his family emigrated to Britain; since 1992, he has lived in the Netherlands. Yannis Kyriakides is the author of more than 100 works for musical theatre, multimedia, and electroacoustics. His music is regularly performed at major festivals and in concert programmes of leading contemporary music ensembles in Europe and Russia.
Kyriakides’ works reflect on musical communication, breaking down stereotypes about listeners and performers, exploring new connections between words and sound with computer technologies. In concert works and sound installations, the composer uses information coding systems to translate verbal texts into musical paintings and synthesise imaginary or inner voices.
A 70-minute piece, Ein Schemen, is Yannis Kyriakides’ homage or even a re-composition of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms. The seven movements, which seamlessly flow into one another, are based on the corresponding parts of the original Requiem. Elements of Brahms’ musical language are extracted from the original score, extended and transformed into soundscapes. Frozen time forms a space where the listener is free to follow in Brahms’ footsteps. The harp framing the choral parts encodes the texts of A German Requiem. The static character of the choir and electronics is deceptive and fluid.
The title quotes a line from the third movement of Brahms’ Requiem: ‘Sie gehen daher wie ein Schemen’. Ein Schemen in German means a shadow, apparition, ghost. Probably it originates from the Latin ‘schema’. This word precisely reflects the nature of the composition, which balances between the worlds of the dead and the living, and follows the source material like a shadow while the music of Brahms imbues it as an otherworldly force.
Ein Schemen had its world premiere on 18 May 2017 at Muziekgebouw, Eindhoven.