Traces of Asia
In spite of globalisation and the perceived potential threat of cultural unification, the lasting impressions of that which is foreign and unfamiliar seem to remain – as Burkhard Friedrich vividly describes after a concert tour with ensemble Intégrales through Mongolia.
To this Hamburg-based ensemble, this journey (as well as others including a tour to Iran) served as the initial motivation to collaborate more intensively with Asian artists with the intention of a resulting concert and CD project. Interestingly enough, only composers are presented, who, as Barbara Lüneburg points out, “are influenced by the West, have travelled there or even lived there for a while.”
Nevertheless, one clearly is able to sense the origins in the musical language of each composer.
Taking all diverse musical cultures into regard, Europe remains to be a gravitational centre, attracting and connecting artists from other cultural contexts. It is also true, however, that during the course of growing “emancipation”, especially that of the Asian countries, Western culture may not anymore represent the ultimate, rather just one offer of many.
Certainly turning to Europe does not cause a musical “culture shock” anymore, considering musical education in Asia (especially in Japan) has been based for the most part on European models. Whereas Asian musical traditions are heavily scented with the past from which “progressive” forces would like to distance themselves, the (physical) distance to the mother country on the other hand might trigger the conscious or unconscious reference back to original cultural roots (often present only in the imagination).
How the composers deal with Western music and its influence on them is, in any case, as varied as it is multi-layered. In spite of the highly individual artistic and conceptual approach each of the six works in Traces of Asia demonstrate the exploration of space between the diverse cultures in their very own specific way.