One line

Carola Bauckholt: nein allein

for five voices


The catalogue of works of the composer Carola Bauckholt, who was born in Krefeld in 1959, studied with Mauricio Kagel and participated in performances of Kagel’s »Instrumental Theater« for many years, presents a great number of original musictheatre works. One of them, namely Es wird sich zeigen (It will show itself), premiered in Berlin in 1999, is closely related to the vocal work nein allein (no alone), written one year later for the Wittener Kammermusiktageit is, in a way, uncoupled from the earlier piece. In her music, Bauckholt repeatedly uses everyday references and irony to point out the habitual.

Some of her titles are chosen with this in mind, such as In gewohnter Umgebung (In the usual surroundings), Treibstoff(Driving Matter) oder Vertraute Rätsel (Trusted Riddle). The title of her piece nein allein for the Neue Vocalsolisten implies that this tendency is also continued here. In so doing, the text is much less dominant than usual in the tradition of European vocal music. It is, as Carola Bauckholt herself explains in her description of the composition process, anchored in an unconventional manner: »Often the sound and rhythm existed first, followed by the word. This procedure was somewhat absurd and exciting, because suddenly the word which exactly fit the music and context would appear. If it didn’t, then I had to search further, or find out what was not working. The text usually describes what is happening musically.« The succinct everyday language of the piece is limited by a very existential challenge: Imagine a person who not only deals with everyday language, but rather is inevitably exposed to it. His psychic sensibility varies between strongly extroverted and rather introverted moments. This imaginary ‘person’ is divided among the five singers. With that, of course, the piece also says something about the perspective of collective singing and the dangers of stabilizing stereotypes and empty affirmation.

With remarkable lightness and a feeling for the ironic playfulness of the dialectic, Carola Bauckholt’s music, while serving these standard clichés, moves above and beyond such moments. At the same time, just such a work as nein allein, set apart from pre-conceived roles, demonstrates its ability to develop its very own music-theatrical space.

(Jörn Peter Hiekel; translation: Alexander G. Adiarte)