PEOPLEText: Roberto Bagatti

Pause is the first edition of a series of concerts and video projections inside Milan’s beautifully suggestive cathedral. Largely built between 1366 and 1485, the cathedral is undeniably one of the most emblematic locations one could imagine, with its rigorous yet flamboyant northern Gothic austerity. With its central vaults 148′ high and 14,000 square yards of space, the cathedral is among the most amazing of venues.

Under the artistic direction of Don Luigi Garbini, the patronage of The UN Refugee Agency and in collaboration with the cultural projects of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Artache have organized a memorable evening with a selection of works from one of most important composers in the history of music, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and the videos of one of the most intense video artists today, Bill Viola.

I was very fortunate to have the possibility of meeting Karlheinz Stockhausen the morning before the actual event: a cup of tea in the lobby of a hotel turned out to be the most enlightening of conversations.

Today, a very consistent part of the musical production (from pop to avantgarde) is essentially electronic. What has changed from when you started experimenting with electronics?

So as you just said, now there is an acceptance of a multiplicity of musical styles whereas I started there was always a hierarchy of quality… for every musician, from the most inventive and developed music to the most simple music, for social entertainment. This has made an enormous change, in every institution, in the radios where I worked for many years. The record companies are constantly trying to have the largest public possible while when I started composing it was a struggling experience, we knew that certain music would always have small public and other types of music a large one.

I come from the radio in Cologne where I was yesterday and I have to continue working there, mixing a large work for choir and orchestra and it was extremely hard to get the time for the mixing whereas in previous times it was understood that it would take as long as necessary. So I think you have at the moment no clear hierarchy of quality.

What do you think is the most important issue today that music should be aware of?

As always, to create for every work a sound world that is unique… which is surprising, inventive, and allows discovering a new experience of oneself, when one hears this music. Through this music you can teach something and form the spirit and a more refined way of listening.

Karlheinz Stockhausen “Helicopter String Quartet” 2003

What do you consider the most important issue you’ve dealt with through the years?

As I just said, to discover for every new work a sound world which is unknown for me and for others as well… so that the development of our capability of listening goes on, we should not stop developing our musical intelligence and the scale of our musical perceptions, what we can feel through music… because then we change… and music has the spiritual goal to help human beings to develop themselves through sound, through the art of composing sound which is an art in itself. Many people think music should mainly entertain the body, with all the dances et cetera. Very few musicians stick to the principle that music should be added to the repertoire which expands the spirit.

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