INTERVIEW WITH NORA GOMRINGER
Finding a shared harmony, the poet Nora Gomringer and photographic artist Andreas Herzau have collaborated with the Bamberg Symphony to create a fascinating anniversary publication. The result: over 150 packed pages giving visual form to sound.
We talked to Nora Gomringer about the project.
Dear Ms. Gomringer, how did the Bamberg Symphony project come about?
First there was an invitation, out of which materialized a task: please, dear poet, figure out just a tad more about our orchestra. At least, that’s the way it seemed at first. I was very glad to accept the invitation.
When and why did Mr. Herzau join the project?
Because it quickly became obvious to me that words on paper can’t hold a candle to sound, so I was pleased to be able to suggest that the star photographer and artist Andreas Herzau come on board. We had already worked together for the Goethe Institute in Novosibirsk in 2008, and were looking for another opportunity to do so.
What was your relationship to the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra before the collaboration?
I’m a secret admirer, but not a subscriber. In my case, I would miss too many performances, because I have to travel a great deal for appearances and readings. So I always went to performances whenever the stars were favorable, and that was and still is a festive occasion for me!
… and afterward?
I understand a little more; you observe the conductors, the musicians, a bit differently. But I keep a respectful distance. I don’t want to know where the magic comes from. I want to experience the magic.
You did travel for two years with the orchestra when they were on tour, after all. What impressed you the most?
The logistics, the organization, the way the orchestra sounds in the halls of this world, and the crowds of people. And then there are always the individuals who tell you how special the Bamberger is to them, because they were always the best when it came to Mahler. An orchestra is also a kind of storehouse of memories for people. I’ve also talked to fans who follow their orchestra on its tours. I found that deeply touching, and it showed me my hometown of Bamberg in a completely different light. After all, we have a world-renowned orchestra. That’s very cool.
Were there things that got on your nerves during the tours?
As a artist who carries out her own work, I see many things here and there that I would like to improve—appearances, backstage, etc. I found the orchestra astonishingly relaxed on these tours, even when things were pretty close, hot, and non-magical. The Bamberg musicians are travelers. Traveling is second nature to this orchestra.
Druckfrisch says about you: “It would be too easy to call Nora Gomringer a writer. Her texts should not only be read, they should be experienced.” How did you manage to make it possible to experience music without sound?
Whether I succeeded in that or not is up to the reader to decide. I was quite shy about following these giants—the task and this body of sound called an orchestra; I listened and smiled and, from time to time, asked direct questions. There are many forms of texts and oral communications about an orchestra. You’re always learning something new when you’re observing the essence of this kind of hive. There is no such thing as music without sound, and text also always has sound. Even when you’re striking the keys of your computer you’re hearing something. So text is also always supplying voices and atmospheres – vibrations.
Who would be interested in the book bamberg symphony? Who’s the target group?
Fans of the Bamberger and people from all countries and orientations who enjoy a show, because through the rich, narrative, poetic, quiet, courageous, curious, searching pictures by Andreas Herzau, this book brings you something very unique: time indoors. It demands attention—like a symphony—and talks to you. And this dialogue will lure you to Bamberg or into the world in front of the orchestral stage. After all, that’s what happened to me, too.
You and Mr. Herzau will present bamberg symphony at the Leipzig book fair. What can a visitor expect during this half-hour?
We’re showing the congenial book clip by Michael Wende, a sequence of pictures, maybe even a couple of animated pages. We’ll talk about the language of the images. And about how the both of us, Herzau and I, are essentially dependent upon an audience with its seven senses—just as the work of the orchestra also depends upon them. So much happens to you when you’re experiencing a concert. That’s what we wanted to describe.