Ronan Whittern + Nathan Watts
1 February to 2 March 2020, Schlemmer House
Invited in cooperation with the Kurt Weill Fest
Concert at the Moholy-Nagy House: March 1
Ronan Whittern is a bassoon player based in Scotland, specialising in the performance of new music. He is a recent graduate of the International Ensemble Modern Academy Masters Course, Frankfurt, where he studied with Johannes Schwarz, bassoonist of the Ensemble Modern. In 2018, Ronan earned a Masters in Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Ronan has a keen interest in the interaction of sound in specific spaces, and the architectural implications of sound.
Nathan Watts was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and lives in Frankfurt am Main. He studied at Cleveland Institute of Music under Stephen Geber and subsequently earned his Master of Music at Rice University as a student of Desmond Hoeb.
As a participant of the International Ensemble Modern Academy he spent a year in 2018/19 intensively studying the literature and performance practice of contemporary music. This gave him the opportunity to perform at New Music festivals throughout Europe and to collaborate with contemporary composers.
Nathan Watts is a member of the Madblaster String Quartet, OfEnsemble and Trio Namiro, and a regular guest musician with Ensemble Modern and Ensemble Reflektor.
Nathan Watts and Ronan Whittern, are nominated by the Ensemble Modern Akademie for the Bauhaus Residency Programme and lived and worked in the Dessau Master Houses in February 2020.
Whittern and Watts on their working process during the Bauhaus Residency:
“Our process was guided mainly by our intuition. We began with commissioning miniature pieces from 6 composers based on a text from Moholy-Nagy. From the beginning of our working process, we explored different aspects of the Bauhaus, eventually settling on the work of László Moholy-Nagy. Our working process was very fluid, starting in a more experimental and developmental stage, slowly moving into a more structured and formalised process as the project came to a close. Always central to this experimental stage was the core concept of the project, which was the work of Moholy-Nagy, particularly his ideas of light, shadow, and depth.”
Watts and Whittern on how their relation to the Bauhaus changed during their stay:
“Before coming to the Bauhaus Residency, we had come into contact with its philosophy, but were not heavily influenced by it. This changed throughout the residency. We were exposed to the ideas of the Bauhaus through our research into the school, and we were especially surprised to learn of some of the musicians who were involved with the institution. We became more aware of the way things are made, the design of buildings, and other societal structures, in particular education. It also gave us guidance in how to structure future projects, by showing us the importance of working with form and direction, but also with the flexibility to experiment and try out many different ideas.”