Andre DeRidder - Photo by Marco Borggreve

“Stargaze” curator André De Ridder
(Photo by Marco Borggreve)

You think the last Berlin weekend was all about the finale of the Berlin International Film Festival, fighting for statues of bears, after-show parties and trying to catch a glimpse of some Hollywood stars? Well, not quite. The Berlinale may have been a festival for the eyes, but what is a film without a soundtrack?

The suitable soundtrack for the Berlinale glamour was supplied by a little festival that has taken place from Friday until Sunday at the famous theatre Volksbühne.

Under the name ‘stargaze presents’ a team headed by the conductor André de Ridder has pulled together a festival with a pretty challenging aim: to push the boundaries between classical music and popular music. The intention was to offer a choice mix of talented musicians both from the fields of rock and pop and with a high quality classical background.

Every evening there were three performances, the last one always was an interpretation of the ground-breaking composition  In C. It was written 1964 by the minimalist composer Terry Riley, who pioneered the use of repetitive patterns and still inspires many electronic musicians.

The first one who took up the challenge was none other than NILS FRAHM. The composer and pianist has developed a very special and intimate sound by combining his piano playing with analogue synthesizers.
Together with the brass and string players of the stargaze ensemble he interpreted the piece in a cheerful and dynamic way, operating the synthesizer and the piano at the same time. Towards the end of the well working performance the musicians left their instruments and took simple sticks to drum the rhythm on the floor. The audience rewarded it with standing ovations and would not let NILS FRAHM go without giving an encore.

Pantha Du Prince + Bell Laboratory - Photo by Katja Ruge

Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory
(Photo by Katja Ruge)

Less variable but more ceremonial were THE BELL LABORATORY and PANTHA DU PRINCE at the second day. The five musicians from Norway and the German sound artist Hendrik Weber alias PANTHA DU PRINCE  started their interpretation with the contemplative sound of their numerous bells, cymbals and marimbas but then the producer added his beats and made the audience leap up and dance.
Everyone went home pleased after this beautiful piece of music finished off with the musicians slowly walking into the auditorium chiming single bells.

The German electro duo MOUSE ON MARS gave the most unconventional performance behind their mixing desks and in collaboration with the American composer Tyondai Braxton. Supported by mechanical instruments called ‘Sonic Robots’ they created an electronic sound collage, really hard to describe.