The Media Façade and the Musical Virtuoso


It’s shooting day on the set, all the camera crews are ready, Christoph Sietzen can give it all he’s got. Six cameras capture the young musician from different angles in front of the Ars Electronica Center’s illuminated façade; four more crews are dispersed about the cityscape to take in the interplay of music and light from afar. A big expenditure of effort for a music video! In this interview, marimba virtuoso Christoph Sietzen talks about why it was worth it and his reason for selecting the Ars Electronica Center as the shooting location for his new music video.

Credit: Christoph Sietzen

You shot a music video with the Ars Electronica Center as your backdrop, so to speak. How did you come to choose this location?

Christoph Sietzen: I’ve been considering this idea for a couple of years now, since I’m fascinated by the possibility of controlling the façade’s colors and patterns via music, and the location on the bank of the Danube makes it even better. Plus, on summer evenings, a lot of young people hang out on the steps of the Maindeck. Since my background is in classical music, I find it really fascinating to simply go up to people and show them something new. Of course, Linz has also been my hometown for about the last 10 years, and I studied at Anton Bruckner Private University, and when you have an institution like the AEC right at your doorstep, you have to take advantage of it!

Credit: Christoph Sietzen

How was the Ars Electronica Center’s façade used in the video?

Christoph Sietzen: The piece that I played—“One Study One Summary” by John Psathas, a composer from New Zealand whose works include the music played at the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Athens—is for marimba, junk percussion (meaning everyday objects like pots and pans) and recorded music feed. And we coupled this feed to the façade so the visuals would stay in tempo with the music.

Can you describe the sequence of events during the shoot?

Christoph Sietzen: We used the Maindeck as a sort of stage, so that’s where my instruments, the lighting and the sound equipment were set up. On site, we filmed with six cameras, and four more were distributed throughout the city on the opposite bank of the Danube near the Lentos, on the Nibelungen Bridge, and on Schlossberg, and there was even one on Pöstlingberg. That’s another thing I find really fascinating about the AEC—that it’s visible from all over town. And with the visuals on the façade, there’s always a connection to the music, even when you can’t see me playing.

Credit: Christoph Sietzen

What was the biggest challenge in shooting this video? And what did you like most about it?

Christoph Sietzen: The biggest challenge was definitely the weather, which was very hard to predict during the timeframe we wanted to shoot. Nevertheless, we had to set a date at some point since a really big crew was involved. Even though storm clouds suddenly moved in while we were setting up, we were lucky and it didn’t start to rain. Extraordinarily helpful in this situation was how flexible, supportive and easygoing the managers at the AEC were, and here I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them once again. The best part for me was screening the first takes and seeing that it really did turn out just the way I wanted and exactly how I had imagined it.

Recently named the Rising Star of the 2017-18 season by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO), percussionist Christoph Sietzen has been celebrated in the media for his extraordinary talent and refreshing musical naturalness, and garnered praise for both his technical mastery and his exceptional stage presence. He made his public debut at the age of 12 at the Salzburg Festival. His numerous accomplishments include winning the 2014 ARD Music Competition. His first solo CD entitled “Attraction”—same as the piece Emmanuel Séjourné composed for him—was singled out for recognition with a Pizzicato Supersonic Award.

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