On Air: New vocal music by Newski, Odeh-Tamimi, Poppe

On Air: New vocal music by Newski, Odeh-Tamimi, Poppe

In an act of Lockdown defiance, Ultraschall Berlin and ECLAT Festival Stuttgart are bringing concerts to radio and livestream – including world-premiers from Sergej Newski, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, and Enno Poppe. 

Ultraschall Berlin presents the world-premiere of vocal piece No Air here with soloist ensemble Phoenix16, conducted by Timo Kreuser, on Deutschlandfunk Kultur and rbb Kultur. Russian composer Sergej Newski juxtaposes texts written by patients on ventilators with the writings of Ukrainian poet Igor Pomerantsev with great impact in a reflection on his son’s Covid illness.

At Stuttgart’s ECLAT Festival, Enno Poppe takes the associative words of a Baroque mystic and puts them into the mouths of the SWR Vokalensemble under the direction of Bas Wiegers, where the singers are left to grapple with their different meanings. 

In VROS for the Neue Vocalsolisten, Samir Odeh-Tamimi resorts to an expressive fantasy language, and deals with a person in the deepest throes of isolation. 


Sergej Newski – No Air here (2020)

Based on the poems of Igor Pomerantsev and documentary material
Duration: 11 min
WP: 21.01.2021, Ultraschall Berlin

Commission for the PHØENIX16 ensemble made possible by a composition grant from the Berlin Senate. 

Listen to stream (playback link at the end of the page)

Composer's note

No air here (2020) for 12 voices is based on two source texts. The first is a poem from the “Immune Antwort” cycle from Prague-based Ukrainian poet Igor Pomerantsev. He reflects on being separated from his son, the well-known English publicist Peter Pomerantsev, who became seriously ill with COVID-19 during spring 2020. The second text is comprised of notes written by patients on ventilators who were no longer able to speak. Collected over a period of three years by a doctor in Tomsk, Siberia, they were met with shock upon publication in a Russian internet magazine in April 2020 – such is the directness and hopelessness they convey. The piece has three movements in total, which are sung attacca. The first movement is based on the patients’ notes: “Day of the week?” “How long have I been here,” “blanket blanket,” or “And where’s my ice cream?” “Put me on the floor to sleep,” “There’s no air here,” “The machine is breathing and I’m not.” Pomerantsev’s poems are set to music in the third and fourth movements, with the patients’ notes used as counterpoint in the third movement. 
—Sergej Newski

Enno Poppe – Der Wechsel menschlicher Sachen (2020)

for choir with 12 voices
Text: Quirinus Kuhlmann
Duration: 11 min
WP: 04.02.2021, ECLAT Festival, Stuttgart

Commission for the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart 

Watch stream   View score

Picture of SWR Vokalenensemble
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart

Samir Odeh-Tamimi – VROS (2020/2021)

3 female voices, tenor & electronics
Duration: 13 min 
WP: 03.02.2021, ECLAT Festival, Stuttgart

Commissioned by Musik der Jahrhunderte 
Electroacoustic sounds produced in the AdK Berlin studio

The concert will be available on SWR2 JETZTMUSIK from 17.03.2021.

Picture of the Neue Vocalsolisten
Neue Vocalsolisten


Composer's note

VROS uses an expressive fantasy language that bears no semantic meaning and was freely invented my me. Word and sound are identical here. The title of the piece is taken from the sung text. VROS is about a person living in isolation. He perceives nothing of the world around him. His attempts to communicate and convey himself lead to failure, and so, he digs deeper and deeper into his own isolated world. In a very surprising moment during the composition process it became clear to me that this man is a killer. He succeeds neither to grasp or accept this fact. His desires and attempts to communicate this to others also fail.  

—Samir Odeh-Tamimi