Composer Shih makes the Zoological Museum in Kiel swing

Two happy artists and an impressed President after the première of "Tanzendes Meer" in the Zoological Museum in Kiel (from left to right): Professor Lutz Kipp, Shih, GMD Georg Fritzsch.
Photo: Dr. Boris Pawlowski, Copyright: CAU

Music creates a space in which we encounter our emotions and are able to understand and organise them. On Sunday evening (15 November) around 80 guests used this opportunity in Kiel University's Zoological Museum. The occasion was the première of the piece "Tanzendes Meer", by the Taiwan-Austrian composer Shih, which the Kiel Opera presented the university with as a gift for its 350th birthday, as a small musical homage to Kiel Marine Sciences.

In a workshop discussion with the approachable artist in the museum's lecture hall, directly before the première, Kiel's General Music Director (GMD) Georg Fritzsch and Professor Thomas Bosch, evolutionary biologist and spokesperson for the Kiel research focus "Kiel Life Science", shared some (sometimes) very personal insights into the history of the origin of this unusual work of sound. The composer's approach to the topic of the ocean ("I want to put new perspective on the ocean" - Shih) played a role here, as did the significance of the musicians and conductor ("Active musicians have the grace to bring large ghosts to life" - Fritzsch), plus the question of whether and to what extent the creative processes from people working in artistic and scientific fields resemble one another ("How often do you stare into space, Shih?" - Bosch).

Afterwards, the approximately 12-minute piece "Tanzendes Meer" was premièred by 11 musicians from the Kiel Opera, conducted by Georg Fritzsch. "Music works with the peace of freedom. I look forward to seeing what it does to you", said a visibly excited Shih, shortly before the first notes started. Previously, the artist had placed the participants on the various levels and open walkways in the whale hall at the museum. "Not many composers write music for a particular room, and this is what Shih did for the wonderful Gropius building of the Zoological Museum, in an unbelievably great way", said GMD Fritzsch as praise for the arrangement. He continued: "It was very impressive for us as performers. I think that the guests who were present at this experience were also captured by the physical feeling of what sound can do in such a magical room. The room and the music melted into each other to really become one entity." "Amazing", said Professor Lutz Kipp, President of Kiel University, at the end of a world première evening in an unusual building in Kiel, which was cheerful despite the general geopolitical situation and conveyed optimism.

The composer Shih (born in 1950) originally comes from Taipei. He has been living and working in Vienna since 1974. His works - chamber music, ballet, large orchestra works, opera and oratorio - have been performed in many European and Asian countries, as well as in the USA. His international breakthrough was in 1994 with his chamber opera "Vatermord" (Death of a Father) at the Leipzig Opera.