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Inanna is a evening-long multimedia "concert play," premiered in a series of performances in September, 2009 in Zürich, Switzerland. The work is a collaboration with director Mirjam Neidhart, featuring violinist Maja Cerar and actress Beren Tuna.
Inanna combines narrative and drama with the musicial virtuosity of a concerto: The ancient Sumerian goddess Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, has returned, but in a suicidal state. Her friend and protector, Ninshubur, communicates only through music. Together they depict vivid scenes of the Inanna epic fragments, some of the earliest literature known to mankind, originating in the land known today as Iraq, stories that resonate strongly with the later writings of the Old Testament of the Bible.
Inanna negotiates the nexus of theatrical drama and concert. The music, composed by Douglas Geers, is performed by violin (Maja Cerar), an “orchestra” of electronically-manipulated sounds (Geers), and an actress (Beren Tuna). The play, created by Mirjam Neidhart from fragments of Inanna myths, envisions the ancient Sumerian goddess Inanna facing a contemporary world that has grown remote from the cult of worship that once surrounded her.
The music of Inanna establishes an interaction of an ensemble of audio sampled from contemporary urban settings - including voices, street sounds, machinery vehicles, weapons, and TV/radio broadcasts - with the violin, voice, and live computer morphing of their audio signals. The individual instruments step forward from the ensemble numerous times, including numerous sections where the musical content expands into virtuosic interludes featuring the violin.
Geers has constructed the music of Inanna to depict the human psyche amid a post-industrial, mechanized and digitized environment. He has applied his technique of “sonic microscopy” to create musical materials for the piece, through a combination of spectral analyses and morphings of found sounds, as well as extreme time-stretching and transcription of micro-melodic components. Through a combination of these processes and the thematically-chosen referential samples, Inanna exhibits both a firm structure and improvisational vibrancy, manifest in both its electronic sounds and the written score.
The live sounds of the violin and actress are treated via a software instrument that Geers created specifically for this composition and which he performs on his laptop computer. This instrument applies a wide range of re-ordering and coloring to bring audio out of natural time and to transform sonic spectra.
Inanna premiered on September 5, 2009 at the Rigiblick Theater in Zürich, with additional performances on September 13, 17, and 18.
Video excerpts on Youtube:
If you would like to know more about the methods used to compose this piece, please email Doug Geers.