Thomas Larcher about The Living Mountain


Thomas Larcher is the composer in residence at The Concertgebouw for the 19-20 season. On 2 April 2020 he will premiere his latest work, ‘The Living Mountain’, in the recital hall, which has been written especially for Asko|Schönberg. The work is a journey in sound, word and imagery, inspired by images of South-Tirol made by celebrated artist/photographer Awoiska van der Molen. The photographs will be shown during the concert. In addition, Larcher was inspired by the book ‘The Living Mountain’ by Scottish writer Nan Shepherd.

This article was originally published at www.concertgebouw.nl.

Thomas Larcher wrote the following about his new work, The Living Mountain:

© Awoiska van der Molen

‘Being submerged in natural surroundings, amidst water, branches, amidst the natural environment: this is where the Dutch photographer Awoiska van der Molen has always been drawn. I knew her work long before I was invited to be “artist in residence” at the Concertgebouw, having seen her photographs closely at her first solo outing at the FOAM, here in Amsterdam.’

‘I had seen them on the internet even before that, but to see these images “live”: this made an incredible impression on me. It seemed to me that through the process of being printed and presented in a very specific and impeccable way, these photos had developed a stature and quality completely different from those I knew online.’

© Awoiska van der Molen

‘Through this experience I discovered a similar practice of our working fields: The care for detail and precision, the amount of mental energy put into a “piece of art” can “energize” a photo or a piece of music enormously. So much that you could write on almost any topic or theme, or photograph whatever you want, but the process of how and with what care it had been done would always shine through and define the picture or the music more than anything else.’

‘Having seen this exhibition I also turned back to my own origins again… Nature and, in my case, especially mountains had always played an enormous role in my life, as an active mountaineer as well as a composer. I embarked on an exploration of nature and the discovery of alpinism after having read Novalis when I was 17 years old. My first pieces were named after regions in my mountainous backyard.’

© Awoiska van der Molen

‘Having seen this exhibition I also turned back to my own origins again… Nature and, in my case, especially mountains had always played an enormous role in my life, as an active mountaineer as well as a composer. I embarked on an exploration of nature and the discovery of alpinism after having read Novalis when I was 17 years old. My first pieces were named after regions in my mountainous backyard.’

‘My relation to mountains has been constantly changing. At one point I imagined an unspoilt Atlantis, I found a wide open, empty space for my soul to roam around and to let my inner self connect with musical ideas… at other times I defined routes by their difficulties: climbing could be a challenge, I could experience extreme situations and dangers.’

© Awoiska van der Molen

‘What I never had experienced, though, was such a thorough and at the same time unpretentious look at the mountains as Nan Shepherd has shown me and as also Awoiska has provided me with. In Shepherd’s book The Living Mountain it is not about mystifying the mountains nor about “testing oneself” in this surrounding (using the mountain as an outdoor gym as Reinhold Messner would say)… there is no need for that here. It is about discovering their beauty in one specific sound, in one look, in one single picture the eye captures (and which disappears again within fractions of a second). It is about hearing the whole universe of music in one cry of a bird or in a waterfall a mile away. And it is about hearing, feeling and experiencing yourself, being completely “inside yourself” and at the same time “seeing yourself” from outside.’

© Awoiska van der Molen

‘Much could be said about all that, but the best thing is to read the book! And then go back and look at Awoiska’s pictures again and intensely.’

‘I have tried (and in fact am still trying at this very moment) to identify some small but significant passages from The Living Mountain and to discover again this “wide, open and empty space”… this time to discover it within myself and give my inner self time and space to connect with the music that is constantly flowing and roaring inside of me.’

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