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Jerusalem my highest Bliss

A performance piece for Ensemble and painter.

In collaboration with Musica Nova Ensemble and Shahar Carmel.

Curation: Tal Yahas and Sala-Mance

Invitation by the 5th Biennale for Drawing Jerusalem.

February 2014

In this work I seek to invoke Paul Klee's drawing Jerusalem meine Höchste Wonne (Jerusalem My Highest Bliss) from 1914.


As a gifted violinist, Klee drew inspiration from music and musical notation. Many of his paintings and drawings pose a variety of musical notation motifs in which the relationship to music is apparent.

For me this was an invitation for a creative "correspondence” between Klee's visual art and my musical work with Ensemble Musica Nova.

In the drawing “Jerusalem My Highest Bliss” I identified a wealth of ideas calling for musical interpretation: the sweep of the lines, the inner rhythm of motives and the overall composition.

I was looking for a way to transpose the drawing into a graphic score: I re-constructed the three structures (towers) of the drawing into one single structure, which then acted as a musical axis; I prepared a legend for the chosen motives I've depicted out of the drawing, and together with the ensemble, we created "matching sound gestures / musical motifs" for each one of the graphic motifs.

We then “taught” this language of gestures versus signs to the painter Shahar Carmel, and sat down to practice: the ensemble practiced performing the new score, and the painter drawing our sounds, using the legend.

We had projections of three canvases for the performance: The first one presented the graphic score I created based on the original drawing. The other two canvases started out blank.

We began the first half of the concert performing the score, while Shahar Carmel was listening and drawing respectively. His drawing was screened live on the second canvas for the audience to witness. At the end of the first performance, the visual translation of the ensemble's performance was screened in full next to the original score. During the second half of the show, we performed Shahar's interpretation, while Shahar was busy listening and drawing again, this time his second visual translation of the musical performance.

By the end of the evening we had three large scale canvases:

The 1st, with the arranged score, inspired by Klee's drawing;

The 2nd, with Shahar's first visual translation of the ensemble's performance;

The 3rd, with Shahar's second visual translation of his own sketched score.

This work addresses a variety of questions that arise from performing graphic scores, and showcases an example of one possible strategy for reading and executing a graphic score.

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