The Wilderness Of Mirrors - Eva Reiter for Nico Couck
Described by The New York Times as agile, compelling and irresistible, Antwerp-based guitarist Nico Couck (b. 1988) started playing the instrument at age 15. In 2013 he obtained his Master’s degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, under the guidance of Professor Roland Broux. Since 2010 he won several awards at e.g. Radio Klara Festival, Laboratorium III (ChampdAction), and the International Lions Music Competition. In 2014 he was awarded a Kranichsteiner Stipendienpreise for interpretation by the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt. His repertoire varies from Baroque to contemporary music with a dedicated focus on present-day developments in music. In addition to concerts in Europe, Asia, South America, and the U.S., past events and venues include Acht Brücken Köln, Barbican Centre, Cité de la Musique Paris, Festival Internacional Cervantino, Huddersfield Music Festival, Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt, MaerzMusik Berlin, Nationaltheater Mannheim, NUNC! Chicago, Transit Festival, Vlaamse Opera, Warschau Autumn, Wien Modern, Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik, and others. Past performances have been broadcasted on WDR3, Radio Klara, SWR, and others. He has collaborated with and premiered works by Oscar Bianchi, Chaya Czernowin, Jason Eckardt, Clemens Gadenstätter, Johannes Kreidler, Stefan Prins, Eva Reiter, Simon Steen-Andersen, Steven Takasugi, Serge Verstockt, amongst several others. Besides his activities as soloist, Nico Couck is a freelance musician in several ensembles such as Nadar, Hermes, SWR Experimentalstudio, and is artist-in-residence at ChampdAction. In addition to performing, Nico Couck currently is assistant professor of guitar and chamber music at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp.
We increasingly lose ourselves in a world of facades in which we can no longer trust our senses. As if through a murky mirror, Bach's musical vocabulary is thrown into the electric guitar sound world and manifests itself in a sound aesthetic reminiscent of the work of David Lynch. At the same time, this sometimes surreal atmosphere is embedded in complex, diffuse and partially overloaded electronics, consisting exclusively of "guitar monsters". We see contours or shadows of the well-known chaconne whose appearance is becoming increasingly strange. "The Wilderness of Mirrors" pursues the principle of the differentiated variation form. Everything comes back but always appears in a new light and a new context. Motives are examined in detail, rotated, stacked on top of each other, disassembled and fragmented beyond recognition. Several times the symbol of the mirror plays an elementary role: as if himself sitting in a mirror cabinet, we look at the guitarist from different angles - and ultimately at ourselves. The mirror forms the intersection and projection plane of different soundscapes and their historical relationships: old versus new, analog versus digital, live versus electronic. The interaction between 'old music' and the new sound language is a kind of transition zone in which we cast our contemporary view on music history. Sonic events are simultaneously projected, scattered, distorted, compressed, multiplied, diminished and magnified, all at the electronic level. Finally, a window in a train not only reflects proximity and distance, but also our own reflection. ‘The Wilderness of Mirrors’ feels connected to all these possibilities of refraction.
commission Eva Reiter of ChampdAction & Festival van Vlaanderen Leuven