Valery Voronov – Acqua Alta

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On January 16th ASKO|Schönberg and the Dutch Chamber Choir will give the world premiere of Valery Voronov’s ‘Acqua Alta’, a monumental four-part piece of 45 minutes for choir and ensemble, dedicated to Reinbert de Leeuw. One of its parts – Touch the Cloud – was written for 80th birthday of De Leeuw whom Voronov admires…   

The choir switches from language to language – English, Italian, Russian and even Dutch. There come along texts by Brodsky, Petrarca, Shakespeare, Tytchev, Nietzsche, Dickinson, Ryzhy and Strotsev.

According to Voronov: “Acqua Alta is perhaps the longest composition I have written so far. That is not a conscious choice. A composition simply gets certain proportions at some point and then it is impossible to make it shorter or longer. Just as a person of his own has a certain length … I write detailed scores – that is very work-intensive but another way is impossible. You can compare it to a craftsman who creates space and depth with the help of shadows. ”

“This piece is about the immensity of the ocean, including the ocean of memory, that comes from all those different text fragments, like echoes from ‘past lives. ” The connection is associative. All images exude the same atmosphere: the search for land and the inability to find it. A recurring theme is moving through space. ”

With Venice as its center (‘acqua alta’ refers to high water) Valery Voronov has collected texts from not only classical Western writers and poets, but also from the Bible (the book of Numbers in Hebrew), from the Old Norse text Keninngar (in Icelandic) and from Arabic philosophy. A special place occupies a recent quote: the exclamation of a mother whose son was indicted and sentenced to death in 2011 after a bomb attack on the Minsk metro. His involvement in the explosion has never been proven. And the mother knows for sure: “He could just say that he hadn’t even been on the metro that day.”

“Perhaps it is not logical to link the eternal beauty of the Venetian canals to the death of an ordinary boy. Apparently, there is no connection, but I think there is. You can hear that at Nietzsche, Tjuchev and Shakespeare.”

“As in films by Andrey Tarkovsky, with its water that lives, has depth, moves, changes, gives mirror reflections, you can drown, swim in it, you can drink it … In addition, you can move along it, trusting the hereditary craving for any movement. She evokes memories, and she herself has the ability to remember. Acqua Alta – appeal to water, to its pool of memory, to its ‘aspect of infinity in its purest form.’ We call witnesses that do not end anywhere. From all floating and traveling, from those who are looking for their little patch of land.”

Article by Jacqueline Oskamp (in Dutch), ‘De Groene Amsterdammer

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