Miquel Bernat

Interview

Sun 1 April 2019

about "Textures & lines"
Miquel Bernat • 52 years old • Musician

Where did this idea of having Drumming Grupo de Percussão (Drumming GP) collaborating with musicians Joana Gama and Luís Fernandes come from and why?

We came up with the idea a while ago, more or less a year ago. We at Drumming GP are always trying to figure out how to expand, what are the limits of percussion and how to combine percussion with other elements. Since I knew Joana and Luís, we decided we’d like to do something together—either performances or some other kind of partnership—and we started by talking informally. We only decided to establish the basis of this collaboration over this past year, in order to create a new performance in an affectionate way.

Bearing in mind the distinct features and instruments of Drumming GP (percussion), and Joana Gama (piano) and Luís Fernandes (electronics), how do you see this meshing of styles and languages?

We look upon imagination, which we see as a requirement, more than upon the several instruments. As I see it, the creation of symbiosis is always the result of a significant creative moment, of looking for the common genes that will originate a performance. I believe that mismatch between percussion and especially electronics (for piano is after all a percussion instrument), those distant worlds that initially seem so estranged, in fact acts as a springboard to reach other musical fields and readings.

In that sense, does the name “Textures & lines” stem from the principle of exploring different styles, aiming at finding genes that are common to the several instruments and musicians that make up this concert?
As a matter of fact, we didn’t want percussion to be just a rhythmic element, but rather for it to enrich textures based on rhythm. When rhythms become polyrhythms and grow in number, more than feeling a rhythm, one feels a texture. Hence the idea of creating different lines, different pieces that are both coherent and easy to follow, thus creating consistency. In spite of the several existing textures, each of those lines will have a sequence.

How do you look at this process of musical creation and composition, given that Drumming GP, in several projects and concerts, performs pieces by other authors?

It is a challenge! Despite the fact that some of Drumming GP’s elements occasionally and in other projects engage in composing, it is fairly uncommon for us to establish a partnership such as this one, in such a short period and in a kind of short artistic residency. We have just ended a residency at Serralves with Mark Fell, which resulted in the release of a vinyl record in the United Kingdom—we are very pleased by it—and we are also very much looking forward to this rendezvous with Joana Gama and Luís Fernandes. For the time being, both parties are still completely open to see from where will ideas be coming, and where will all this material and musical creation lead. Each musician taking part in this concert has a few ideas in mind, so as not to go in empty-handed. But the goal of the composition is to have each element’s ideas interacting with everyone else’s ideas, and to easily build up something in common.

Is the decision to include artist Pedro Maia’s visual works in the “Textures & Lines” concert due to the cinematographic aspect to which the music of Joana Gama and Luís Fernandes refers in many situations?

Exactly! The idea came from Joana and Luís. They wanted the concert to have something else, and we liked it and agreed to it. We’ve also had that visual aspect in some of our previous concerts. “Textures & Lines” will have a strong visual aspect, and so Pedro Maia is the ideal person to come aboard this project.

Apart from this concert, what other plans and projects does Drumming GP anticipate for next year and what are the prospects for 2019?

There are several highly different projects and prospects! We begin in January with a performance at Reina Sofia Museum’s auditorium, in Madrid. It involves a Spanish composer and Portuguese composer Luís Tinoco in a kind of talk between the two called “Pocket Paradise”. The goal is to create a pocket paradise during a short performance, lasting little over an hour. Then we’ll take a performance about light to Teatro Nacional São João. The project’s title is yet to be defined, but it will have something to do with light, since that will be the main thread of the performance, which will have a strong visual nature. Next year, we also celebrate our 20th anniversary, and we’ll revisit Steve Reich after over five years not exploring this author, and play several of his pieces that are yet to be presented in Porto. Additionally, there’s the release of a monographic record by Luís Tinoco and the performance “Mikrophonie”, by Karlheinz Stockhausen. Then there’s the rerun of “Cribles/Porto”, the result of a collaboration with Emmanuelle Huynh’s French company, choreographed by Companhia Instável and to be presented at Serralves. We also premiere a new performance with that same company [Companhia Instável] based on new American minimalism—“Timber”, by Michael Gordon. We’ll also take part in “Made in ESMAE”, a small percussion festival taking place at Teatro Helena Sá e Costa, and we’ll once again return to Serralves Museum with a new piece by Vasco Mendonça. Teatro Campo Alegre is the place that enables us to create these performances. So next year we’ll have our 20th anniversary, and we’ll try to demonstrate the several sides to Drumming GP.


Interview with Miquel Bernat conducted on October 2, 2018, at Teatro Rivoli, by Francisco Santos, from TMP’s communication office
Image © Pedro Sardinha
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