The Secret of Schlabendorf: a contemporary Village Music

Press quote:

“In 2010 the 300 occupants of Schlabendorf celebrated its 800th birthday… an event which seemed unthinkable only a few years ago. The village had been earmarked for demolition to make way for browncoal surface mining, and for 31 years the villagers had been waiting for the axe to fall. The political changes of 1989 came just on time to save the village. Houses have finally been renovated, and the village now stands on the banks of a new lake with the Sielmann nature-reserve just across the water.
In conversations with composer Hazel Leach, the villagers have told their personal stories, which form the basis for this contemporary composition. Performed by the villagers themselves, together with musicians from nearby Lausitz and a Greek ensemble, the venue is Schlabendorf itself, from the central village green to the brand-new harbour. In total, there are at least 200 participants.
Director: Jürg Montalta (Switserland) Composer & MD: Hazel Leach (GB), Co-director: Moritz von Rappard (Germany)”

.…..It was this initial idea – writing music both for and with the local people- which first attracted me to this project. It presented a fascinating challenge:  to integrate the very specific history of this village and  the diversity of the personal experiences of the villagers and my own musical language into a cooperative creative process.
In interviews with a number of different people from the village, I was presented with an array of personal stories: the individual experiences of  keeping family and home together throughout the upheavals of  World War 2, the Russian occupation, the DDR regime, German reunification and the imminent destruction of Schlabendorf  for the mining industry. Some of these stories are tragic, others are joyful or funny, and this mixed tapestry is ( to me) what defines the village today.
I also made a musical collection:  each of us has a set of  ‘personal’ musical references attached to growing up, relationships and religion, and Schlabendorf has a rich and varied musical vocabulary. In composing the music I have matched these musical references with the relevant social/historical  themes. The different performance venues in the village supply the appropriate backdrops for the storyline.
Meetings with local musicians (players, teachers and students) have resulted in a pool of over 100 participants- a composer’s dream! And of course, there is a happy ending to the piece, since the future is what we make of it.

From an interview in the Internationale Bauausstellung Magazine,
Fürst-Pückler-Land GmbH

Following pages: programme notes, text, lyrics and Photos

2: Before the mining industry: Ballroom and Barn

3: Church and Manor

4: School and Village green

5: After the mining industry

Seite: 1 2 3 4 5

Hazel Leach
Hazel Leach - Credits