℗ UME – Unidentified Missing Encounter

Composition, Contemporary Music, Bohlen-Pierce

  • Title: UME – Unidentified Missing Encounter
  • Type: Composition, Musical works for BP Orchester, BP Choir, two dancers and electronics
  • Scene of a Space Journey – Perspectives of the Unknown
  • Concept and Design: Greg Beller, Lisa Pottstock
  • Composition, technical direction, sound engineer and computer music designer : Greg Beller
  • Stage direction: Lisa Pottstock
  • Video: Lili Süper
  • Costume: Dina Polus
  • Dance: Marlen Nickel
  • Scientific support: Dr. Sarah Casura
  • Conductor: Yalda Zalmani
  • Bohlen-Pierce-Ensemble: Kristian Sievers, Ákos Hoffmann, Nora-Louise Müller, Georgia Ch. Hoppe, Manfred Stahnke, Nicola Kruse, Krischa Weber, Lin Chen, Paul Linardatos, Aigerim Seilova, Felix Mayer
  • Bohlen-Pierce-Choir: Rüdiger Ruwe, Nathaniel Ouzana, Thomas Kollenbach, Songzheqi Yang, Corinna Horsch, Annika Winkler, Isabella Hajdu, Marlene Wolf
  • Premiere: STAGE 2.0, October 21-22 2022, 19:30, Forum HfMT Hamburg, Germany
  • Recording: HfMT Webcast team
  • Duration: 11min30
  • Full video
  • Production: The Synekine project, Greg Beller, innovationslabor-HfMT, HfMT Hamburg, HAW Hamburg, Stage_2.0, Exzellenzcluster Quantum Universe der Universität Hamburg, Claussen Simon Stiftung, Rudolf Augstein Stiftung, Thörl Stiftung, Stadt Hamburg, Ingeborg und Hellmuth Spielmann-Stiftungsfonds unter dem Dach der Hamburgischen Kulturstiftung, Hamburgische Kulturstiftung

With a Bohlen-Pierce ensemble, a choir and electronics, we embark on an intermedial journey through the universe and on the traces of fascination with the strange and unknown.

The universe has always served mankind as a cultural projection surface. On the one hand, the great unknown awakens notions of fear and threat; on the other, it is always a topos for the spirit of discovery, the urge to explore, and a challenge to the limitlessness of human abilities. We humans also tend to project the known into the unknown: Clouds take the form of animals, we recognize faces in the contemplation of rock formations on Mars, and the idea of life in space draws from images of Earth-like figures. In this sense, the universe reflects some basic human questions: to what extent is it possible for us to imagine something we do not know? In exploring the unknown, are we trapped in our anthropocentric perspective? How can we freely encounter the unknown, the alien.

“There are so many other places out there that it just seems unlikely that we live in the only place where life has evolved. However, I am equally convinced that we will never communicate with aliens, let alone visit them (or that they will visit us).” Sarah (astrophysicist) writes to Greg (composer) and Lisa (director) in an email in response to a question about the possibility of living beings not from Earth. But what if, contrary to all physics, this fantasy did come true? What would we want to know about this being? UME deals with an encounter that will never take place, and can therefore be imagined all the more beautifully.

The musical basis is the Bohlen-Pierce scale, which with its “otherworldly” sound stands for a musical analogy to the theme of the cosmically alien. Among the non-standard tunings of contemporary microtonal music practice, it occupies a special position because it is in tension with important properties of the Western standard system. Unlike the scales of our usual system, it is not the octave that forms the repetition frame, but the pure duodecimal (octave plus fifth), which is divided into 13 steps according to various mathematical and music-theoretical considerations. The result is an alternative harmonic system that opens up new possibilities for contemporary and future music.