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"Le Encantadas" by Olga Neuwirth at Wien Modern

Author: Wien Modern

Olga Neuwirth created an acoustic journey through an archipelago of sound in her masterpiece from 2014–2015 which was co-commissioned by Wien Modern.

  • Olga Neuwirth  | Copyright: © Olga Neuwirth: Priska Ketterer / San Lorenzo Venedig: Michele Paol / Montage Pentagram Berlin

    Olga Neuwirth © Olga Neuwirth: Priska Ketterer / San Lorenzo Venedig: Michele Paol / Montage Pentagram Berlin

«Encantadas», or the Enchanted Isles, was how Herman Melville described the Galapagos Islands in 1854, which according to legend can movLe. Olga Neuwirth created an acoustic journey through an archipelago of sound in her masterpiece from 2014–2015 which was co-commissioned by Wien Modern. It was «a fictional adventure novel through a range of different spatial acoustic effects». «The gaze – or in my case the ear – glides into the distance, across the sea. The islands of an archipelago lie before you, clearly outlined at first, almost tangible. But a little later, they have become no more than nebulous silhouettes, which become more and more diffuse with every millimetre that you pass by in your boat, leaving a trail of white keel spray behind.» (Olga Neuwirth)

That the 70-minute work can create such breathtaking mental images without using any pictures is not least due to sophisticated spatial acoustic technology: With the IRCAM in Paris, Olga Neuwirth was able to accurately capture the sounds of bells coming from all directions across the lagoon in her adopted home of Venice. The spatial acoustics of the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, in which she heard a performance of Luigi Nono’s Prometeo at the age of 16, were measured so accurately that they can be reproduced realistically in the Halle E using Ambisonic loudspeaker matrix. A key work of Olga Neuwirth, performed by Ensemble intercontemporain under its chief conductor Matthias Pintscher.

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