Le Vitrail van de hand van de Oezbeekse componist Artyom Kim werd geschreven op verzoek van het Nieuw Ensemble en het Atlas Ensemble en door de gecombineerde ensembles uitgevoerd onder leiding van Ed Spanjaard (maart 2006).
“Kim, die als dirigent de Oezbeken leerde luisteren naar Schnittke, Strawinsky en Orff, smeedt westerse en oosterse instrumenten samen tot een ruig symfonisch geheel, met lekker korzelige uitbarstingen en een eenzaam slot van bassnaar tokkels op de zheng (een Chinese citer).”
Huib Ramaer, Volkskrant 13-03-2006.
Artjom Kim was born 1976 in Bekabad, near Tasjkent, in Uzbekistan. He started his musical education (playing the bajan) at the age of ten. In 1995 he took his first composition lessons with the famous Uzbek composer M. Tadjiev and later with Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky. In 2001 he received his Master’s Degree at the Tashkent State Conservatory.
During his studies he got involved with Ilkhom XX, the international contemporary music festival. Many of his compositions were premiered at this festival, while it also offered him an opportunity to start conducting: he conducted several first performances of music by young Uzbek composers, as well as Uzbek first performances of Requiem by Alfred Schnittke, Les Noces by Stravinsky and the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Artjom Kim regularly composes for film and theater.
Over the past few years he was guest composer with the Nieuw Ensemble for which he wrote four works: Stabilis/Mobilis, L’autre plaine, De Profundis and Rag Music for european and non-european instruments. In 2004 Kim has organized the Omnibus Ensemble in Tashkent, which has become the first chamber ensemble concentrated in modern music in Central Asia.
Speaking about composing, Kim says: ‘To me the most fascinating moment in music is when opposite processes in a composition collide, thus creating tension and energy. It is this energy that determines the development and form, and is my main motive for writing music.’
Over Le Vitrail uit het programmaboekje bij de Grand Tour van het Atlas Ensemble (maart 2006)
In Le vitrail (‘stained-glass window’), a poetically titled work by Artyom Kim (b. 1976), the Uzbek composer insisted that music is not in
need of translation or cultural adaptation as long as the listener approaches it with anopen ear. For Kim universality is an inherent quality of music that only needs to be actualised in the moment of performance (being). His concerns are purely artistic: for each composition he attempts to find a ‘beautiful structure balanced in numbers and proportions’ in which to pour his freshly shaped sounds. Well-versed in writing for various combinations of Western and Central Asian instruments, Kim does not treat the Atlas Ensemble as an ‘East/West’ formation, but as a source of possibilities that any other ensemble is. In his opinion, it is important for any intercultural ensemble to pass as
quickly as possible the inevitable phase of being considered as a curiosity – a musical ‘zoo’ or a ‘museum’ – and proceed to build up its own tradition instead. To this end, Kim aims in each of his Atlas Academy projects since 2009 to deepen his understanding of the technical potential of a particular group of instruments (zithers, lutes, strings, winds, etc.) in order to arrive at a guide of orchestration for the Atlas Ensemble.
(To explain the scope of his ambition, Kim refers to the intensive knowledge of traditions and languages that informed the universe J.R.R. Tolkien created for his epic novel The Lord of the Rings.)
Le vitrail, for instance, is the result of an extensive study of the zheng, the Chinese zither. While the soloist accommodates her instrument to the ensemble by adapting its habitual pentatonic tuning to include scordatura and chromaticism, the ensemble accompanies, enhances, and imitates both the ephemeral sound and the bending curves of the zheng. As the texture increases in density and heterophony, the zheng ever more merges with its environment. By the time the built-up tension reaches a Stravinskian danse sacrale-like climax (at the Golden Section), its character has been transformed beyond recognition of those who are familiar with the instrument’s conventional repertoire. That is precisely what Kim strives for: to appeal to those sides of an instrument that are unknown to listeners both inside and outside the tradition from which it originated.