For a long time, Sasha Waltz and Georg Friedrich Haas wished to collaborate but never had an opportunity to realize the plan. That changed when Waltz took over as co-intendant of the Berlin State Ballet in August 2019. The commissioned work SYM-PHONIE MMXX
was scheduled to be performed in March 2020 but that turned out to be one of the first premieres scuppered by the COVID lockdown. Almost exactly two years later, in March 2022, an audience was finally treated to the work’s premiere at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Along with the dancers of Sasha Waltz & Guests, conductor Ilan Volkov and the Staatskapelle Berlin were responsible for a superb realization of this composition, which is also intended for purely orchestral performance in the concert hall.
für Tanz, Licht und Orchester
WP: 13.03.2022, Berlin
A Staatsballett Berlin production, co-produced by Sasha Waltz & Guests
With dancers of Sasha Waltz & Guests
View work details
About SYM-PHONIE MMXX
Sasha Waltz has created a new work for dance and music at the Staatsballett Berlin. The choreographer commissioned the renowned composer Georg Friedrich Haas to compose original ballet music for a joint creation. After numerous operas, this is his first official stage work for dance.
Composed for a large symphonic ensemble of the Staatskapelle Berlin, the music gives room to elements defined by dance, which create a close connection between musical language and the dancers' body language. Georg Friedrich Haas is one of the most successful composers of contemporary music. His success is due in part to his utopic urge, "unattainable in hundred percent perfection," to create a new music that is both expressive and soothing ― not despite of its newness but precisely because it is new.
World premiere of SYM-PHONIE MMXX, Berlin
The production's concept, in the best tradition of dance history, is based on the inspiring encounter of the arts and has been declared the artistic guideline: music, dance and visual arts are transformed by Sasha Waltz and her team into a full-length work which was originally set to premiere on the stage of Staatsoper Unter den Linden in 2020. As it had to be cancelled three weeks prior as part of corona safety measures, it will finally celebrate its world premiere two years later.
Text: Staatsballett Berlin
"In the first half of Georg Friedrich Haas’s music, ominous or siren-like sounds often surge and subside again, as if the orchestra were an accordion being slowly squeezed. In the middle, there is a long pause. In the second half, the orchestra again recalls, not electronics, but the simultaneous sounding of instrumental groups, with a whiff of Stravinsky and a pleasurably original use of percussion. Later we hear ghostly music in the darkness loved by the composer. As beautifully and interestingly as Haas formulates this, so disturbing – in the dance as well – is an emotionality that erupts from nowhere, then goes totally into overdrive without leading anywhere."
World premiere of SYM-PHONIE MMXX, Berlin
"A premiere could not be more topical than this creation of Sasha Waltz... Everyone in the auditorium of the Berlin Staatsoper immediately perceives sudden shocking reality and thinks of the war in Ukraine and the suffering unleashed by combat and bombardment. The music of renowned composer Georg Friedrich Haas, a work commissioned by Sasha Waltz, proved to be unexpectedly relevant. Following a number of operas, SYM-PHONIE MMXX is his first official stage work for dance, presented with real commitment by the Berlin Staatskapelle under the direction of Ilan Volkov. At times the sounds coming from the pit are like bombs falling and shots whizzing through the air... The audience, palpably alert and moved, responds with sustained applause for all the performers... This is no perfumed fairytale from supposedly better times but the harsh present day, fashioned with skill and dedication by an international dance troupe."
"Haas’s music sounds new but not strange, and not at all perplexing. It sounds ambitious, setting up broad, slowly developing surfaces, and yet it is also touching. At first it flickers, whirrs and buzzes, constructing menacing shapes to which Waltz choreographs coherent images of chaos, conflict, alienation and destruction. The music drums out the rhythm of war scenes, and at the end, conveyed by wind and strings, it rises to huge, dark and, every so often, late Romantic sounds – moving, conciliatory, “deep” – before the music and dance and light fade away... The symphony as a synthesis of the arts – a plan that works musically because the other elements are placed in the music’s service, because they “resonate”."
View score of SYM-PHONIE MMXX
Photos: Bernd Uhlig