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It's with humor and skepticism that my remix of 'Jonny Spielt Auf"
is now titled "Jonny Spielt Jazz." I present it as a form of therapy for
society. In the remix everything remains as its been before, but the
"script" is adjusted for a digital context - Bauhaus theater sets become
architectural diagrams interacting with the music and actors, blueprints
for a different vision of a past that we experience only through
recordings. With the original opera, the defeated Germany of World War I
tries to leap over its shadow, that is to say, all that has been repressed
and suppressed. With my remix, we are brought full circle; it's a journey
with no maps, save what we make up as we go along. This undertaking
isn't so unusual - turn on the TV, watch a movie, check out an updated
website: the motifs are all there in different forms.
First performed in 1927 at the height of the Weimar Republic, Ernst Krenek's opera "Jonny
Spielt Auf' went down in history as a so-called 'jazz opera'. The narrative portrayed the story of
a black musician who played in a hotel band that used music to lure the masses into a new era
of social freedom and equality. With a New Media grant from the Rockefeller Foundation I
envision expanding the 45-minute musical performance I am composing for Munich's
Intermedium media arts festival into a full multi-media opera with live stage performance, a fourpiece
jazz ensemble and innovative live video projections that interact with the performers. With
funds from the grant, I will be able to purchase the specialized technical equipment necessary
for presenting the opera in traditional theaters that have hosted my current piece, Rebirth of a
Nation, which is touring internationally through Spring 2005.
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