FITTINGinSIDE (virtual lockdown version)

Stefan Prins

For trombone, walking audience, conference call and tape

If we have anything learned since the first COVID lockdown in 2020, it is that social and physical contact are not only invaluable, but irreplaceable, even with the existing technologies. The magic of the ritual of listening to music together, so characteristic of a live concert, cannot (yet?) be reproduced in the virtual space. However, perhaps the COVID situation also created its own context and its own specific possibilities? There is no such thing as a problem, there are only opportunities.

For the first time, Nadar Ensemble organized a virtual concert with a performance of FITTINGinSIDE for trombone, walk and conference call by Stefan Prins.

The composition FITTINGinSIDE was written in 2007 and plays with the tension between two realities: a technologically mediated, disembodied reality and a physical, unmediated, embodied reality. The disembodied reality exists via the headphones worn by the audience throughout the performance. At the start, the audience takes a short, timed walk around the neighbourhood of the concert hall. Sporadically pre- recorded trombone sounds can be heard on the headphones, while, “in the background”, the unmediated local city soundscape penetrates through the headphones. Once the audience has returned to the concert hall, the trombonist plays the continuance of the composition live, while through the headphones the relationship between both realities undergoes a transformation – just as our relationship with embodied and disembodied reality has changed since the lockdown.

In the new, virtual version of FITTINGinSIDE, the audience takes a walk with headphones in their own neighbourhood, each separately, but ‘connected’ via live streaming. Via the zoom app on your smartphone, you can follow the walks of others and also hear fragments of their ambient sound. In this way, the embodied reality of your own physical walk is immediately extended with the disembodied reality of the other walks. When you get home at the end of your walk, trombonist Thomas Moore, will play live streamed via your computer. The soundtrack on the headphones then gradually transforms into city and ambient sounds. Fore and background are reversed, inside becomes outside and outside becomes inside. While at first the concert setting entered the outside world, that environment now flows into the concert experience.

Stefan Prins