Stefan Keller is an artist of many layers, having started his musical journey as an oboe player, before taking his first degrees in composition. After a trip to India in 2005 he explored the unknown world of the instrument tabla, and has since been taking classes and later written music for it. It is something quite special, when the composer has taken his time to truly know the instrument he is composing for, and even in this case, performs it himself.
The piece ‚Ma’s Sequence 7‘, was originally written by Riccardo Nova for the Indian instruments mridangam and tavil. In tonight’s arrangement by Stefan Keller, his passion for the tabla clearly comes through. As the piece begins, one is immediately drawn into a special atmosphere. Personally I am new to the whole sound, having never been to India nor heard the tabla before. Flowing rhythms and water drop sounding drums reach the ears in a very organic way, played so freely that it almost strikes as an improvised session. In the brief interview before the performance, Keller explains just that; how the tabla music can be extremely detailed composed with the finest movements written out in the score, still sounding as the performer letting his hands go wild.
Further into the piece, one starts to perceive the thin, trembling sound of the trumpet as an imitation of a voice, both saying and singing phrases, carefully fitted into the rhythmical elements. In many ways, the piece nicely sums up what has already been written in the program about Stefan Keller as an artist; that he has an eye for the experimental expression, combining his classical background with a a great passion for Indian music, a wide knowledge of composition techniques, notation and also techno music – all elements which in this piece play an important role in making it so multi layered and difficult to place into a certain genre.
Keller also mentions how important he finds the body in the middle of everything, and that a music piece always requires the performer to take part, both intellectually and physically. Dance and general movement is tightly connected to music, however, might not so often associated with contemporary music. This takes us back to the wise words of Konstantia Gourzi from the other night; „music is music“, and so be it. ‚Ma’s Sequence 7‘ is a piece that definitely makes you want to move, as the sound of the drums friendly invites your feet to start tripping.