An intimate audio-visual tale that intertwines the listener’s personal experience of hearing with visual light play and sonic re-imaginings of Beethoven’s music filtered through the realities of hearing loss and tinnitus.Directed by Tina Pearson, Dramaturgy by Dylan Robinson. Performed by Tim Gosley, Cathy Lewis, Alex Olson, Tina Pearson, Chris Reich, and George Tzanetakis. And Beethoven Heard Nothing was developed from January through May, 2010 and premiered May 12, 2010 at Knox Presbyterian Church in Victoria, BC. A revised version of the work was developed for performance at Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre October 23 and 24, 2010. An intimate black box theatre, Merlin’s Sun afforded a deeper engagement with the audiences and gave the opportunity to work with a Ship’s Piano, a small version of the piano designed for ship travel in the mid 1800’s.
“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.”Beethoven was completely deaf by the time he composed his later works such as the Ninth Symphony, the late String Quartets and Missa Solemnis. Over a twenty-year period, starting when he was about twenty-seven years of age, Beethoven experienced gradual hearing loss combined with severe Tinnitus. That he continued to compose and perform such music as he did is an astonishment that guided the project.
“…And Beethoven Heard Nothing”The path of sonic narrative for the project “…And Beethoven Heard Nothing” is dependent on its venue and the performers involved. It begins with a focus on inner hearing, and unfolds in an exploration of the relationship between vision and sound, and ways that the processes of hearing and its nuances can be juxtaposed and combined with ‘musical’ material. A regular practice of listening to ear and body sounds while wearing ear plugs give foundation to an ensemble for bringing these sounds and their visual representation into musical interplay, for creating the sounds of imagined Tinnitus, and for playing with silence. These elements were absorbed into the Beethoven fragments and improvisations, creating a blur between ‘noise’ and music; inviting the “roaring, buzzing, ringing and hissing” of Beethoven’s tinnitus into a redefined soundworld in which to meet his iconic musical mind. LaSaM’s “…and Beethoven Heard Nothing” performances at Knox Presbyterian Church Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre in Victoria in May and October 2010 were a resonant success. The pre and post concert talks were full of illuminating ideas, responses, and heartfelt interactions with those who attended. Listening so deeply to inner sounds together seems to create an immediacy and intimacy in which to share experiences without the usual walls and masks. For information and score, contact <tina.pearson”at”shaw.ca>
And Beethoven Heard Nothing was funded by the British Columbia Arts Council. LaSaM is grateful for the support of the Knox Presbyterian Church, Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre and the University of Victoria School of Music for providing rehearsal space.
Photos by Lyssa Pearson