Stefan Prins – Generation Kill for 4 musicians, 4 game controllers, 4 video projections and live electronics (2012)
Last year, while I was working on “Piano Hero #1 and #2”, the Arab Revolutions had ignited the Middle-East. Protesters in several Middle-Eastern countries made the whole world witness the revolutionary events by making video’s with their smartphones or webcams and uploading them to the internet. With the use of the social media -such as Facebook and Twitter- the whole process was accelerated, and before anyone realised, the people of Tunisia and Egypt had overthrown their dictatorial regimes, while full-blown civil wars started to split Libya and to paralyse Syria. In the same year, 2011, a large-scale investigation was released, which calculated that there is one CCTV surveillance camera for every 32 persons in the UK.
October 2011: the Americans started to withdraw their troops in Iraq, while they were still fighting the taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. More and more images were released of successfull (at least according to the official bulletins) bombings by so-called “drones” -“unmanned aerial vehicles” who are remotely controlled by military personal in secret control centers in the US. Parallel to these images, an increasing stream of eye-witnesses started to appear on the internet, telling of innocent people who were killed by these bombings.
Strolling through the internet, I found at around the same time a 7-year old video-clip on Youtube which was a teaser for the TV-series “Generation Kill”, based on the homonymous book in which Evan Wright chronicled his experiences as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the US Marine Corps during the 2003 Iraq invasion. One of the statements which shocked me the most was made by one of the soldiers: “It’s the ultimate rush — you’re going into the fight with a good song playing in the background”. Evan Wright explained further: “This is a war fought by the first playstation generation. One thing about them is they kill very well in Iraq.”
At that point, I realised that my next piece had to musically reflect on all of these connected facts, on a society which is more and more monitored, on the increasing importance of internet, networks and social media, which are fuelled by video’s taken with webcams and smartphones, on video-games and on wars fought like video-games, on the line between reality and virtuality which gets thinner by the day.
Stefan Prins, July 2012.
Marieke Berendsen, violin, scenography
Rebecca Diependaele, general manager
Katrien Gaelens, game controller
Yves Goemaere, percussion
Wannes Gonnissen, sound, electronics
Pieter Matthynssens, cello, artistic director
Elisa Medinila, game controller
Thomas Moore, game controller,
Stefan Prins, composer, artistic director
Drie Tack, game controller
Kobe Van Cauwenberghe, e-guitar
Nadar Ensemble was founded in 2006 by a group of young musicians sharing a mutual interest and passion for contemporary music. The name for the ensemble was chosen as a reference to the real Nadar: the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), whose multidisciplinarity and adventurous spirit the ensemble wishes to portray. The historical Nadar was a well-known photographer and balloonist, and also quite accomplished as a caricaturist, a spy, an art critic and much more. He regularly organized informal “salons” at which his contemporaries, artists, thinkers, writers and scientists were invited; thus creating a cross-disciplinary dialogue.
Nadar Ensemble has performed upon invitation at several important concert halls and festivals, both nationally and internationally. Examples include the Ars Musica in Brussels, Handelsbeurs in Ghent, deSingel in Antwerp, De Bijloke in Ghent, TRANSIT in Leuven, Concertgebouw Bruges, Harvest Festival in Denmark, the Internationale Ferienkurse für neue Musik Darmstadt (2010, 2012, 2014, 2018), Festival Musica Strasbourg, Tzlil Meudcan in Tel Aviv, Blurred Edges Hamburg, Rotterdam Philharmonic Gergiev Festival, the Donaueschinger Musiktage (2012, 2015), Acht Brücken Köln, Forum Neue Musik Deutschlandradio, Tage fur Neue Musik in Zürich, Ultima Oslo, Muffathalle in München, Porgy and Bess Wien, Open Music Graz, Nowy Teatr Warsaw, and Platforma Moscow, reMusik Saint-Petersburg, Music Biennale Zagreb, SPOR Aarhus (Dk) Wirklichkeiten Kongress Stuttgart, Tampere Biennale Finland, Holland Festival Amsterdam.
Since 2010, Nadar coproduces a Summer Academy for young musicians (14+) in Sint-Niklaas, together with MATRIX [New Music Centre]. In 2015, this project was nominated for a European YEAH! Award.
In the summer of 2014, the ensemble has performed for the third time at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt (works by Stefan Prins and Michael Maierhof, in a project curated with American-Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal). Recently, the ensemble premiered “RECHT”, a music theater piece by Hannes Seidl and Daniel Kötter in Frankfurt (Mousonturm), Ghent (De Bijloke) Berlin (MaerzMusik). During the 2015 Donaueschinger Musiktage, Nadar has premiered Mirror Box Extensions by Stefan Prins and Bluff by Michael Beil and Thierry Bruehl. Nadar was guest curator of SPOR 2016 in Aarhus, Denmark.
Recently, NEOS released a live recording of Nadar’s 2012 concert at the Donaueschinger Musiktage with works by Kreidler, Prins, Pasovsky and Schedl. “EXIT F” by Michael Maierhof for four hot-air balloons and ensemble is released on Migrorecords, and “Fremdkörper #1” by Stefan Prins was released on a monographic CD on the label Sub Rosa. Nadar’s recording of “In Hyper Intervals” will be featured on Johannes Kreidler’s upcoming portrait CD at Wergo. For it’s 10th anniversary Nadar will release a vinyl with exclusive electronic works by composers with whom we developed a long-term relationship.
Over the past 10 years, Nadar has premiered more than 30 pieces by composers such as Malin Bang, Michael Beil, Vladimir Gorlinsky, Daan Janssens, Alexander Khubeev, Sergey Khismatov, Matthias Kranebitter, Johannes Kreidler, Dmitri Kourliandski, Michael Maierhof, Maximilian Marcoll, Alex Nadzharov, Yoav Pasovsky, Marina Poleukhina, Stefan Prins, Jorge Sánchez-Chiong, Klaus Schedl, Alexander Schubert, Martin Schüttler, Hannes Seidl and Daniel Kötter, Jennifer Walshe.
Nadar currently has a 3-year partnership with Muziekcentrum De Bijloke Ghent. From 2017 on, Nadar will be ensemble-in-residence at Concertgebouw Brugge performing a.o. new evening-filling works by Michael Beil (2019), Stefan Prins (2020) and Simon Steen-Andersen (2021).
In his compositional work Stefan Prins seeks to critique received convention, to break the framework of the usual, and dispose of aesthetic axioms. He envisions a musical art form beyond the safe confines of the »scene«, wherein the connection to the larger cultural discourse has gotten lost. A central precondition for the making of a new music with a future is the role of the aware, critical observer, one who is prepared to exploit the technologies and mechanisms of the prefabricated media with a view to their possibilities for new music. – Stefan Prins lives up to this calling. (Michael Rebhahn, 2012)
After graduating as an engineer, Stefan Prins (Kortrijk, Belgium, 20/5/1979) started to study fulltime piano and composition at the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp, Belgium, where he obtained his Masters degree in Composition magna cum laude. Concurrently, he studied “Technology in Music“ at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels,“Sonology“ at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and “Philosophy of Culture” and “Philosophy of Technology” at the University of Antwerp. Since September 2011 he divides his time between Europe and the USA where he pursues a PhD in composition at Harvard University under the guidance of Chaya Czernowin.
As a composer he received several important awards in Belgium and abroad, such as the “Berliner Kunstpreis für Musik” (2016), “ISCM Young Composer Award” (2014), “Kranichsteiner Musikpreis für Komposition” (Darmstadt, 2010), a “Staubach Honorarium” (Darmstadt, 2009) and the “International Impuls Composition Award” (Graz, 2009). In 2012 the Union of Belgian Music Journalists elected him “Young Belgian Musician of the Year”. In 2014 he became laureate of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for the Sciences and Arts in the Class of the Arts.
Stefan Prins is closely involved with the Nadar Ensemble, as a composer and codirector, and was one of the founders of the long-standing trio for improvised music “collectief reFLEXible”. He’s also a founding member of the band “Ministry of Bad Decisions”, with percussionist Brian Archinal and e-guitarist Yaron Deutsch.
His music has been played by a.o. Klangforum Wien, Nadar Ensemble, Ictus Ensemble, Nikel Ensemble, Ensemble Mosaik, Trio Accanto, Ensemble Dal Niente, Ensemble Recherche, Athelas Sinfonietta, Ensemble Proton Bern, Zwerm Electric Guitar Quartet, Champ d’Action on festivals such as the Donaueschinger Musiktage, the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Wittener Tage für Neue Musik, Eclat, Warsaw Autumn, Gaudeamus Festival, Musica Strasbourg, Ars Musica, Tzlil Meudcan, Impuls Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival & Ultima Festival.
His preferred color is blood-red.