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2020/10/12

Work of the Week – Gerald Barry: No People.

On 18 October at the Donaueschingen Festival, Ensemble Musikfabrik and with conductor Mariano Chiacchiarini will give the world premiere of Gerald Barry’s No People. for 13 instruments. The work which has been commissioned by SWR, draws on Barry’s earlier work by the same name.


Please note:
After the publication of this article, the Donaueschingen Festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we would like to invite you to learn about this interesting composition.


The title, No People. is taken from surrealist Raymond Roussel’s 1932 poem New Impressions of Africa for which he commissioned 59 drawings to illustrate the text. The commission was given to the artist via a detective agency – the artist, not knowing who the commissioner was and having never seen the texts, would receive simple instructions such as ‘Nocturnal Landscape. Very starry sky with a thin crescent of moon. (No people.)’ from which to realize the drawing.

“together, the ordinary everyday drawings take on a strangeness they might otherwise not have had if the artist had drawn on with the poem’s text in front of him. It’s the juxtaposition of both unknowns – poem/drawings – that give the final work its strange quality.” – Gerald Barry

No People. will be performed twice at the festival at 11.00 and 15.00 on 18 October allowing for as many attendees as possible to hear the music.