Through the residency exchange program between Dresden and Le Vivier, Ensemble SuperMusique presents this collaboration with the composer Christopher Williams. Williams is increasingly interested in the social aspects of notation, namely how groups of artists use scores as a resource to create and remake their own music together. He suspects that improvisers’ work with notation might have something to teach us about social life and politics in general. This avenue is explored in his new laboratory project with Ensemble SuperMusique, presented in this intimate concert.
This new music residency is the result of a cooperation agreement between the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Goethe-Institut Montréal, Le Vivier and Hellerau — Europäisches Zentrum Der Künste Dresden.
On Perpetual (Musical) Peace? Montréal is an experiment in musical cohabitation featuring SuperMusique, an ensemble of diverse improvisors in Montréal, and Christopher Williams, a visiting composer and contrabassist based in Berlin. Over the last several weeks, the artists have rehearsed together regularly to explore ways of be (com) ing a group. On 7 Dec., they will open a window onto this collaboration in the form of a “serious happy hour” with music, discussion, snacks, and drinks.
The project’s conceptual springboard is Immanuel Kant’s essay On Perpetual Peace. A Philosophical Sketch. This text proposed a path to lasting peace among perpetually warring nations through an international federation of states. (It later influenced the UN Charter and EU Constitution.) Our collaboration embraces Kant’s values of hospitality, publicity (transparency), and perpetuality (sustainability) — and the often contentious work it takes to maintain them. The project takes them as bedrock conditions for life in which there is room for everyone and everything.
Rather than providing his own scores, materials, or aesthetic for the ensemble to unite around, “the composer” plays the role of a sympathetic agitator. Williams has proposed exercises, discussions, and graphic and verbal scores by a variety of artists (including the musicians themselves) in order to provoke difference in and reflection on what the members of SuperMusique already do. In turn, the musicians find new collective resources which they fold back into the work process en route to a kind of perpetual musical piece/peace.
— Christopher Williams