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For fORCH recordings, see cds and soundcloud.

Wolfgang Mitterer

Wolfgang MittererWolfgang studied organ, composition and electro-acoustics in Vienna and Stockholm. He is not only one of the Austrian specialists for electronics as well as being equally brilliant on the keyboard and on the slide controls, but is also one of the most innovative composers. His work oscillates between composition and open form. Apart from music for organ and orchestra, a piano concerto and an opera, he has produced electronic pieces, conceptualised sound installations and engaged in collective improvisation with diverse groups, developing a language of extremes, tension and complexity. The pleasure he takes in experimenting leads him to combine contrasting elements in the creation of unpredictable musical events. In one major composition, for instance, he juxtaposes musical bands and children’s choirs with specialised instrumentalists and singers, while filling the hall with surround sound created by live electronics. But his work transcends the merely spectacular, precisely because of his musical presence and the high – deeply moving – intensity and complexity of his compositions. Listening intensely to low sounds has its place just as much as the “installing” of exploding sound fragments in the listeners’ minds. Far from being smoothly pleasurable, Mitterer’s music is still uncannily beautiful at times.


Ute Wassermann

Ute WassermanUte is a composer/performer, improviser and interpreter of contemporary music. She studied at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts with Henning Christiansen, specialising in sound installation and vocal performance, and studied classical singing with Carol Plantamura (San Diego) and Arnold van Mill (Hamburg). Since 1984 she has developed many special multivoiced vocal techniques, catalogued by register, timbre and articulative sequences which may be deconstructed and/or superimposed and used to explore spatial resonance phenomena. She has given numerous performances of her own solo work and performs regularly with many improvising musicians including duos with Richard Barrett, Aleks Kolkowski and Birgit Ulher (trumpet) in venues ranging from international festivals (Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires) to lofts. She has collaborated frequently with composers who have created works especially for her voice, including Henning Christiansen, Richard Barrett, Chaya Czernowin, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Sven Åke Johansson and Ana Maria Rodriguez, and has performed with many ensembles and orchestras including ASKO, KNM Berlin, ELISION and Münchener Kammerorchester. Recent projects have included performances of code*switching for voice, computer and video installation by Ana Maria Rodriguez, a staged production of Savatore Sciarrino’s Infinito Nero (with KNM Berlin) and the completion of a CD of her own solo and multitrack vocal compositions.


fORCH was initially formed, at the invitation of Reinhard Kager, for the 2005 New Jazz Meeting of the SWR (South West German Radio), which consisted of a week of intensive rehearsing and recording followed by four concerts. Two releases from that project are available on Evan Parker's psi label: equals and the double CD spin networks (see cds).

The fORCH ensemble is based around the electroacoustic duo FURT, which was formed by Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer in 1986 and which has performed throughout Europe and released six CDs of its own. FURT’s music is a unique combination of kaleidoscopic electronic/concrete sound with the headlong energy of free jazz, described in the Guardian as “one of the most blisteringly energetic and experimental partnerships over the past 20 years”.

Expanding FURT into a new kind of “orchestra” (hence the name fORCH) had been an objective for many years, and the SWR project created an opportunity to establish such an ensemble, in which the electronic duo was combined with vocalists and instrumentalists, all leading players in the world of improvised and experimental music who have developed their own unprecedented sounds and techniques.

fORCH plays a combination of “pure” improvised music and composed frameworks by FURT which serve to co-ordinate and channel the musical energy of the band in clearly structured but still “free” directions, so that it has a strong musical personality which is more than the sum of its parts. This is a new kind of contemporary music ensemble which no longer recognises any hierarchy between composers and performers.

In 2005 the original line-up was Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer (electronics), Phil Minton and Ute Wassermann (voices), John Butcher (saxophones), Paul Lovens (percussion), Wolfgang Mitterer (piano/electronics) and Rhodri Davies (celtic and concert harps). Subsequent performances – at the Spitalfields Festival in London, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Aberdeen’s sound festival – have also incorporated Peter Evans (trumpets), Aleksander Kolkowski (viola) and Anne La Berge (flutes/electronics). Lori Freedman (clarinets) joined the group for the first time at the Donaueschinger Musiktage in October 2012. fORCH’s Donaueschingen performance is available as a third CD release, spukhafte Fernwirkung, on John Coxon’s Treader label (see cds).

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