Institution Imaginaire (2017)

for string quartet
Written for Momenta Quartet
Premiere: Momenta Quartet, Dimenna Center in New York, March 29, 2017
Duration: 43' min



Institution Imaginaire for string quartet draws its materials from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.12 in A major. It is not a work of quotation, collage, or a historical commentary on Mozart’s music but, rather, a deconstruction of its materials and structures in such a way that its remnants can be re-contextualized within a contemporary and, therefore, relevant to us framework. The point of departure for this project was the question “What does Mozart mean to us today?”

Mozart’s work, therefore, is not merely an abstract conception or a historical document separated from the works written today. Instead, there is a relation of cultural dependency, which, in both social and artistic terms, puts the two worlds in a constant and direct dialogue. However, it is not the old work but, rather, the new one that is historical on the grounds that its conditions of intelligibility depend on the structured genealogies of the work of the past.

The question which was initially posed, “What does Mozart mean to us today?” seems, after all, inadequate. The new work appears to address another, reformulated question: “What is history?” or “What does history mean for us today?” This work, after all, is not a work about Mozart; it is a work about history; the way we create the meaning and the validity of Mozart today; the way we write our history. Mozart is an institution, and it appears that we did not invent it; instead, it was given to us by the previous generations as any other institution. However, it is we who, each time, endorse and confirm these cultural inheritances and recreate them according to our own needs, beliefs, and aesthetics.

Institution Imaginaire is not a confirmative action of accepting uncritically Mozart’s validity today nor a nostalgic reflection of the past. Its ultimate goal is to project a faith to the future; to our duty to re-write our history; the history of our future. “No more Mozart” does not mean abstractly negating him and setting his music out of play; it means “let’s create our own institutions”; “let’s create our own future”; “let’s create our own history.” The emergence of a new history is, in fact, the rewriting of history by means of a motivated repression that connects all the different sounds and reveals the beauty of what in the traditional structured genealogy remained unnameable.

In the last part of the work the performers speak or sing deconstructed words and phonemes from the following poem:

Αγία Αναρχία
Δαγκώνει τά χείλη της καθώς ἡ ἀστροβροχή συνεχίζει νά πέφτει
Ἀγκαλιάζει τά παιδιά της
Τούς μιλᾶ γιά τήν Ἁγία Ἀναρχία
Τό ὁπλισμένο χέρι της
Τή νεανική της φλόγα
Τήν περπατησιά της
Τό θάρρος της ὃταν πυροβολεῖ τόν καθρέπτη καί τίς μισές λέξεις
Τήν ἱερή ὀργή της γιά τούς ἀνθρώπους ποὐ σιωποῦν στό φῶς τῆς ψυχῆς


Divine Anarchy
She bites her lips while the shooting stars continue to fall
Hugs her children
Speaks to them about the Divine Anarchy
Her armed hand
Her youthful flame
Her gait
Her courage when she shoots at the mirror and the half-spoken words
Her sacred rage at people who go silent before the light of the soul
Translated by Ioannis Angelakis

© 2020 Ioannis Angelakis