BEYOND THE STAGE with “German Masterworks” and “Tierkreis”

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The NYU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jens Georg Bachmann, performs German Masterworks on Sunday, March 29th featuring three iconic German composers: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Hans Werner Henze, and Richard Wagner.

In this post, we dive into Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Tierkreis (1975), which is Stockhausen’s most popular composition, consisting of twelve melodies, each representing an astrological sign. Its title translates literally to “Zodiac.” The performance begins with the movement that corresponds to the zodiac sign of the day on which the performance falls and proceeds through the twelve melodies of the cycle, ending with a return to the starting melody.

Composer’s Website: Karlheinz Stockhausen

Audio: Stockhausen’s Tierkreis (1975) “Zodiac” melodies


The Tierkreis melodies express the zodiacal characters, as conceived by the composer. In that way, serialism and astrology join forces, which is a surprising alliance. Below are the English words that Karlheinz Stockhausen wrote to the Tierkreis melodies on the twelve star signs, to be sung in English, German, or Italian.


Aquarius ♒ January 21-February 19
Bearer of water, Aquarius
airy spirit
bright sharp and clear
reaching for the distant, delving
lightning-fast changing
unites in peaceful brotherhood

Pisces ♓ February 20-March 20
Pisces – two fishes in movement
planets Jupiter Neptune
water softly clinging
formless forward backward undecided dissolving
devoted gentle and kind
sudden willfulness
intuition dreams
wisdom innocence

Aries ♈ March 21-April21
A – ari ari Aries
fire fiery Mars
sunrise morning-red eastern
springtime bursting bud
fast impulsive and alert and loves the risk

Taurus ♉ April 21-May 21
Taurus bull
earthy heavy feminine
through Venus forming
unconscious sensual
property holding
and patient love

Gemini ♊ May 21- June 21
Gemini twins
airy agile
as Mercury in the changing play
accelerates and simplifies
loves common sense, the flow of talk
all that’s fast, the stroke of genius, joke
the leap – the new
as messenger

Cancer ♋ June 22-July 23
woman and wife
southern glowing sun
springbrook flowing stream
sea and ebb and flow
summer blossom
innerly tender

Leo ♌ July 23-August 22
Leo Lion
fiery sun spirit
king of hearts
ruling the world
noble and proud and steadfast
generously giving
loves the play
loves the Arts
the love
the high

Virgo ♍ August 23-September 23
Virgo virgin
Mercury clear
late summer mellow
sensible cautious and aloof
conscientious, serving, modest

Libra ♎ September 23-October 22
Libra balance
air winds Venus
friend beloved lover
west evening autumn ripened fruit
lovely harmonious peaceful
dancing swaying in love

Scorpio ♏ October 23-November 21
water in storm
Mars Pluto
fighter strong
destroying frightening force
infinitely deep
burns bites stings hunts
seeks to find the core of life
conquest of self
as victor

Sagittarius ♐ November 22-December 21
Archer arrow Sagittarius
fiery as Jupiter’s mounted knight
half horse half man
loves nature
optimistic outlook
free and open
true spiritual
sees the beyond
reaching past the gate of death
cheerfully trusting

Capricorn ♑ December 21-January 20
Capricornus sea goat with Saturn
Earth son of earth the man
night I winter night
show the heaven’s firmament
starry tent
seed, withdrawn
slow tenacious
steadily climbing heights
stubborn stiff
striving for light
son of mother Sun Sirius

Kurtz, M. “Stockhausen-Eine Biographie”, Bärenreiter Kassel/Basel 1988, footnote 202
Photo Credit:

Interview with Rimini Protokoll’s Stefan Kaegi

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Ashley Miskoff, NYU Skirball Education Associate: Thank you so much for taking this time and joining us here in the Skirball Rehearsal Room. For our viewers who have no idea what they’re about to get into here, can you tell us a little bit about Remote X and how this idea first came about?

Stefan Kaegi: Yeah, basically the vision of this project is to turn the city into a stage and in the same moment to control it highly through an audio-scape that is manually recorded and that really makes it an immersive experience that on one hand you are in the city and obviously you touch, you walk and in the same moment acoustically you’re in a completely fictional space. The idea behind the whole story line is that there are more and more of these artificial identities that control us through GPS, through little programs that run on our iPhones, they tell us where to go and we are very dependent on technology, we trust it and it goes up to the point that in a hospital you would have a machine controlling your respiration. And so the question for humanity at some point will be: how much do we give away the decision processes and how much do we want to outsource them to machines? And so the voice you’re listening to, you get your headphones, you start walking with a crowd of 50 people and you’re following basically instructions of Heather. Heather is a voice composed of 2,000 hours of a female voice and it’s a computer speaking to you that tries to, in any moment, predict what you will see, what you will want, how fast you will walk or if you slow down, she will say different things. So it becomes this identity of yours that is a perfect assistant. Then again we are doing this in New York; New York is a totally unpredictable city. We’ve been rehearsing in snow, suddenly the snow starts to melt, the weather changes, traffic jams, whatever comes in as unpredictable and so this is the contrast: the impact between the predictable and the unpredictable.

Ashley: You talked a little bit about how New York is very different than the other places you’re worked and it’s a very unique city. Can you tell us how the process of creating this experience in New York in particular has been different than creating it in the other locations that you’ve been? For instance, Berlin and Brazil.

Stefan: Yeah basically we start making the layout of this project putting a red thread, in the literal sense, through the city. We know that we want to start in a cemetery. We will then somehow use public transport and we will end up on a high place where you look down at the city. But in between we have to sort of, you know, it’s like making a film that you can’t cut, you can’t edit, so you basically have to take people along on that way. And we seduce you to enter doors that normally you wouldn’t enter alone. You sort of do it because you are a part of this hoard, this group of 50 people that is very different to the experience people used to have in the 90’s when people started to use the Walkman and it felt like ‘Are they isolating?, Don’t they want to talk to the others?’. It’s a different experience because you’re sharing a secret. It has a lot to do with conspiracy that you are walking with 50 people that listen to the same beat that might (make them) shake their head along, (and they) eventually will turn into a flash mob. They hear the instruction ‘let’s walk backwards’. You suddenly have 50 people walking backwards and it becomes a sculpture in public space in a way, but a vivid one that disappears again. So in the next, until the end of April basically in New York, you will on certain corners see, every day at 4 o’clock, 50 people turn around, look up into the sky and then clap in a moment and then start running. And these kinds of choreographies will be performed, not for others — there is no external audience that I had thought of — but there will be people standing around and they will see this thing going on. Some people in India said when we did it “Oh, you’re a sect”. And first I wanted to say “no” but then again, you’re in a crowd that shares a certain experience, an acoustic world, for the duration of two hours. And it might look like a sect at some point and it serves as an intervention, as confusion for public spaces. We bend over to tie shoelaces in the metro at some point where you suddenly see ‘okay, half of the subway here is on the ground, what is going on?’. You realize that. There is a subversive potential I guess in nowadays New York where everybody is ready to shoot at somebody running too fast or screaming something that might look like a terrorist attack in some moments. So it does raise these questions about who does the public space belong to? You’re asking about different cities we’ve been. I think it’s the 20th city that we are performing this in and for instance it felt very much like we did it in Bangalore around the time when the rape case was a big issue for a young generation. Where they would say ‘let’s redefine rules according to which public life is organized’ basically. They took it as a political project in a way. Whereas I think in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I think people took it much more like a fun, silent disco experience where you dance together with 50 people in the middle of a public space and suddenly we had people who had no headphones whatsoever on their head but they kept dancing along because they socialized with the others. So a lot of unpredictable experiences come out of this experiment in different places: in small cities like Le Havre or in the North of France we can suddenly access very surprising spaces like an ice skating rink or we crossed an entire swimming pool with 50 people while people were swimming all around us. As opposed to St. Petersburg where already about 80 of these shows were running in the last year and they’re picking it up this summer again. We use the public space available that is already very much defined for masses: the metro, the subway in St. Petersburg is the lowest one in the world and it has an amazing escalator taking you down that is an experience. This is created for masses and everybody has been there before but with the sound scape we created for it, it became a whole new experience.

Ashley: What are you most looking forward to working with New York audiences or seeing how the New York audiences react to what you’ve created?

Stefan: Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing how people react. I mean with very different, all sorts of generations, it seems that the biggest audience we get is between 18 and 35 year-olds because the whole idea that theater can be something interactive is much more familiar to people that have been growing up with social networks than to an older generation that is used to going to the theater at a front row space where you can basically sit and have a little nap while people pretend to be geniuses on the stage. So people participate in it often as a game. Some people have been calling this a treasure hunt and others have called it a game where you constantly enter, accessing new levels but you have to collaborate to find them. Others call it invisible architectures. That’s why we’ve had a lot of urbanists and architects say “Oh you’re basically raising a structure through the city that nobody can see and certain amount of people move through exactly this structure including certain choreographies”. Choreography is another name you could give it, as it contains a lot of little instructions. And then definitely it is a big music composition, it’s an acoustic experience.

Ashley: So it encompasses all art forms really. Can you describe one of the most memorable moments that you’ve experienced or seen or heard of a previous Remote X tour that you could think of that was maybe unexpected or was some kind of memorable experience?

Stefan: Well, there’s a scene that we normally perform, I think we’ve done it in most of the cities, where you hear the soundscape of a demonstration. It’s not just one demonstration against something. It’s the demonstration that is composed out of already now we’ve been recording demonstrations in all the cities where we’ve performed so you hear a bit of Hezbollah screaming, you hear a German demonstration against gentrification in Berlin, you hear a French demonstration in support of the Palestinians. There was demonstration in Portugal against (Angela) Merkel and her point on the European budget. So all of this melts into kind of a global demonstration and you’re walking with it as a demonstration. You’re picking up an object from your pocket and raising it up and showing it to the others and so it looks from the outside like a demonstration, but actually you’re sort of reenacting dozens of demonstrations in that moment. And we did this in St. Petersburg and it was in a time where it became more and more complex in Russia to make demonstrations. People have been arrested for altering their opinions in public space. But in this crowd, people felt like they couldn’t do it and I’ve seen people demonstrate that never would have done that on their own. And so that was quite a memorable moment especially when police cars came close and didn’t really know what they should do, is this a demonstration or not. Because in the same moment, if you don’t have a headphone, it’s completely silent and you can’t hear anything. And so is this a demonstration if it’s silent? Inside the headphones it’s very loud in the same moment. So it shows I guess a lot of the complexities of this project.

Ashley: Could you talk a little bit about your experience creating other site-specific work, about using other public spaces as your theater? As you talked about, it’s not just sitting down and watching some people on stage, it’s a different type of theatrical experience but I guess you could still call it public art or performance art or theater.

Stefan: Well the project that we’re more touring at the moment is very immersive but it’s the contrary of being site-specific because it’s a building with about 15 different situation rooms. They reconstruct environments by 20 different people that we’ve been working with that have to do with weapon trafficking, either as soldiers, as users, as purges, as manufacturers of weapons, as victims or we have a killer actually, from a Mexican drug cartel and we have a policeman performing in it. It’s a documentary piece so we’ve been working with these people and when it will be shown in Toronto next year, the experience is 20 people at a time will get an iPad mini in their hand and they go through this stage design that consists of, it’s like a film set that has more than 4,000 props in it, super detailed shooting range for instance in which you walk, you hear the marksmen from Germany explain to you the weapon you’re holding with the iPad as he held it when he was filming it. He’s not there, but 19 others are there so maybe we can show a bit or include a bit of the video trailer about how audience experienced it here and that will explain much better than me explaining it. So that’s one project that is highly interactive and immersive and it also feels very much like a game where you jump identity every seven minutes from being a serial refugee to becoming a lawyer from Pakistan to become an Indian soldier. Site-specific performance…Maybe one to mention would be 100% City that is a project we last made happen in Amsterdam and in Philadelphia for the Fringe Arts Festival and we will do it in Malaysia next August. It’s a project where 100 people stand on the stage. But it’s very site-specific because these 100 people are chosen from the city in such a way that they represent the demographics of the city according to age, household size, country of origin, neighborhood that you live in, and gender obviously. So they are a sample of the city and they form group pictures basically of what they’ve experienced. Like you see a group of people who have thought of suicide, the group of people who have children, the group of people who use bicycles, the group of people who own Facebook accounts and so you basically these different social niches mirrored by representatives of your city. So that’s something we elaborate in each city in the process of two or three weeks in a very site-specific way. There are many project 100%s: Brussels, Paris, or London.


Trailer: Remote X 

Trailer: Situation Rooms

Trailer: 100% Paris ; 100% Philadelphia 

BEYOND THE STAGE with “Remote New York”

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Rimini Protokoll’s Remote New York runs at NYU Skirball Center from March 14 – April 12. Fifty people wearing headphones swarm NYC, discovering new perspectives. A pedestrian-based live art experience full of complex soundscapes, Remote New York leads audiences on a journey that shifts perceptions of familiar landscapes, unifies the group, and conjures up personal memories. Seeing the performance is only half the fun, let us take you Beyond The Stage by sharing articles, interviews, reviews, videos, and more related to the production. Whether you are preparing to experience a performance or want to extend your understanding of the piece after the show, we hope you’ll keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Artist’s Website: Rimini Protokoll


Review: In ‘Remote New York,’ an Unseen Tour Guide Calls the Shots (New York Times)“Remote New York” — a remarkably efficient if seldom surprising exercise in crowd control from the German arts collective Rimini Protokoll— gives precise and neutral voice to thoughts most veteran city dwellers surely have on a regular basis.” – Ben Brantley, March 17, 2015

Article: ‘Remote New York’ a Tour from Brooklyn to Greenwich Village (New York Times) “Remote New York, presented by the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University through April 12, is the first major work in New York for Rimini Protokoll, founded in 2002 by Mr. Kaegi, Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel. Since then, Rimini has gained an international reputation with projects that use the tools of theater and ordinary citizen-participants to investigate “real life.” – Jennifer Schuessler, March 12, 2015

Article: Spectatorial Body in Multimedia Performance (PAJ, A Journal of Performance and Art) A piece about artists/companies who investigate the relationship between artists & spectators, the article includes a section on Rimini Protokoll as well as a section on another of our Visions + Voices: Germany artists, Gob Squad. “What I found unusual in much of my performance selection was that in three of the four media-based works I attended in a row, Gob Squad’s Revolution Now!, Rimini Protokoll’s Best Before, and Dries Verhoeven’s Life Streaming, my body was somehow engaged explicitly within the work—not something I have come to expect in viewing multimedia performance.” Jennifer Parker-Starbuck, September 2011, Vol. 33, No. 3 (PAJ99), © 2011, pages 60-71

Visual Art at NYU Skirball: Anja Niedringhaus


A German photojournalist who worked for the Associated Press, Anja Niedringhaus (1965-2014) spent her life documenting regions torn apart by conflict and captured her many subjects amidst the chaos of war. In 2005, Anja Niedringhaus was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography as part of an 11-member AP team covering Iraq. That same year, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) honored her with the Courage in Journalism Award. Anja Niedringhaus was tragically killed in April 2014 when her vehicle came under attack as she traveled with a convoy of election workers in the eve before the Afghan Presidential elections. To honor the courage and dedication of Anja Niedringhaus, the IWMF Courage in Photojournalism Award was established in her name and it will be given annually to a woman photojournalist who follows in her footsteps.

Art Exhibit

Artist Website: Anja Niedringhaus

International Women’s Media Foundation Website: Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Journalism Award

Article: Photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan (The Atlantic) -Alan Taylor, “In Focus”, April 4, 2014

Article: Anja Niedringhaus: Photographer’s visual legacy (CBS News) April 2014

Article: Cheerful and Unflappable: Remembering the Photographer Anja Niedringhaus (Spiegel Online) -Christoph Reuter, April 7, 2014