The DigiEnsemble Berlin – a group dedicated to exploring the possibilities of live performance with mobile music devices – is pushing boundaries with their arrangement of großer Herr, o starker König from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
The performance features baritone Tobias Berndt and a solo by DigiEnsemble Berlin founder Matthias Krebs.
While the group’s work is sometimes met with skepticism, Krebs says that the audience at “was pleasantly surprised and quickly won over.”
Krebs adds that the Bach performance is an important step in the group’s growth, due to the requirements of the piece. In order to achieve their goals for performing the work, the group had to incorporate new MIDI controllers and techniques. Details below.
About The Performance
The DigiEnsemble Berlin uses digital devices to perform the aria “Großer Herr, o starker König” from the Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach. The baritone part is sung by Tobias Berndt.
The realization of the musically challenging aria is a culmination for the mission of acquiring virtuous playing techniques with smartphones. Matthias Krebs chose this aria consciously with the intention of accomplishing a signifying step in the ensemble’s development. Experts like music professors from the Berlin University of the Arts were consulted to optimize the musical adaption and musical interpretation.
The performance was enhanced by using a number of elaborate controllers. An important sound quality improvement was enabled by the use of a new motion control app called “MIDI In Motion” by Florian Schwehn. Krebs notes that, in the process of the project, the digital devices became ‘serious musical instruments on a high level of proficiency and differentiation that has not been reached before’.
All sounds, except for the baritone part, are performed on the digital devices themselves. Three apps are used by the instrumentalists. These are:
- ThumbJam as a sampler for all instruments;
- Geo Synth as the instrumental surface; and
- MIDI In Motion as a motion controller for volume, connected by Virtual MIDI. (Schwehn has provides the group with a beta version.)
- DigiEnsemble Berlin
- Tobias Berndt – bariton
- Tammin Julian Lee – conductor
- Matthias Krebs — solo trumpet
- Miriam Akkermann — flute
- Tim Neuser — violin 1
- Dustin Dick — violin 2
- Sven Ratzel — viola
- Uwe Schamburek — bassoon/cello
- Timon Kossack — bass bowed
- Daniel Grote – organ
- THX to: Prof. Dr. Richenhagen and Prof. Dr. Supper
- THX to: Florian Schwehn
- Daniel Kemper (Emil Berliner Studios)
- Markenfilm Crossing
- Matthias Krebs (vision, project management, punos)
- Liesa Rademacher (cutter, feinfilm)
- Mathias Geck (color grading)
- Lukasz Fabijanczyk (logo animation)
- Bastian Schick (logo sounds)
- Susanne Hassepaß (ass., feinfilm)
- Nastasia Mohren (ass., punos)
The film was shot on 20th September 2012 at the old theatre stage of the Heimathafen Neukölln in Berlin.