The pioneering musician Charlemagne Palestine will give a 90 min evening concert on the Eule organ and grand piano of the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral), at Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt. American composer, musician, performer and artist Palestine has close links with American Minimalist music of the 1960s. However, he chose to follow his own path early in his career. In contrast to the more light-hearted minimalism of his contemporaries La Monte Young, Phillip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich, Palestine took a more ritualistic approach. For more than forty years, he has used the existential intensity of his drone-based 'resonant music' to fathom the transcendent qualities of sound.
Palestine is probably best known for his works for piano and organ. By slowly superimposing and thus transforming overtones and drones over lengthy periods of time, he lures from his instruments a chilling crescendo of sound that may culminate in noise. One feature of Palestine's musical style is the so-called 'strumming' effect, percussive repetitions that give rise to dense, hypnotic rhythms. A sparse yet persistent scattering of alternating notes generates shimmering overtone clusters with rich and unusual timbres.
Often of several hours duration, Palestine's performances are akin to shamanistic rituals. Both his music and the way he performs it are a testament to physical intensity taken to its outermost limits and, simultaneously, to otherworldly transcendence. Palestine seeks an expansion of time and space; the trance-like experience. Music critic Brian March describes the experience thus: "There's a transcendent timelessness about Charlemagne Palestine's music that makes me feel as if it will always be around". The very title that Charlemagne Palestine has chosen for his performance in the extraordinary space of the Französischer Dom – 'Spectral Continuum Berlin 2010', emphasizes that experience. Palestine's music is vertical in the sense that it generates a state of vertical temporality or of timelessness. His pieces have neither a beginning nor an end. Rather, they consist of stratifications marked by an absence of linear progression. Although they exhibit an overwhelming dynamism, his pieces remain substantially unchanged throughout their course. What we hear seems to be an excerpt from a continuum that may well ring for eternity, an infinitely extended present that makes past and future fade away.
The concert is part of this year's series of concerts and performances, jointly programmed by transmediale and CTM > read more.
> See also > TINTINNABULATIONS FOR TOMORROW AND TOMORROW