The Vegetable Orchestra
also known as: Gemüseorchester
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© Zoefotografie

The Vegetable Orchestra

General Information

Year of Foundation:  1998

The 1. Wiener Gemüseorchester (also: The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, Das Gemüseorchester) uses a wide variety of vegetables as musical instruments.

 

This unusually orchestrated orchestra was founded in January 1998 in Vienna. Since then, it has grown to include twelve people who have been involved in art and music in a wide variety of ways.

Various types of vegetables are used as instruments. For example, hollow cucumbers or carrots as flutes or (with a bell made of peppers) as trumpets. Occasionally, kitchen utensils such as mixers, juicers, knives or graters are used to support the sound. Cooperation with the ensemble's sound engineering is essential for vegetable music. With the help of a special microphone - a mixture of condenser, vocal and contact microphones - the amplification of the often very sensitive and quiet tones of the vegetable sounding bodies is made possible.

Gespielt wird nach Noten, aber nicht nach den Altgewohnten, sondern graphische Felder zeigen den Musikanten an, wann ihr Einsatz im Stück kommt. Ihnen wird allerdings freigestellt, wie sie diesen Zeitraum nutzen, ob für längere Töne oder kürzere, laute oder leise. Das sorgt gemeinsam mit dem Umstand, dass für jeden Auftritt des Gemüseorchesters die Instrumente neu gefertigt werden müssen und diese sowieso anders als traditionelle Instrumente klingen, auch bei bekannten Musikstücken - egal, ob klassisch oder modern - für ein neues Hörerlebnis. Zum Repertoire des Orchesters zählen Eigenkompositionen, sowie Interpretationen beispielsweise von Stücken von Igor Stravinsky, den deutschen Elektronikpionieren Kraftwerk und der Wiener Klangformation Radian.

 

The music is played according to notes, but not according to the familiar ones. Instead graphic fields indicate to the musicians when their cue in the piece comes. They are, however, free to choose how they use this period of time, whether for longer tones or shorter, loud or quiet ones. This, together with the fact that the instruments have to be newly manufactured for every performance of the vegetable orchestra and that they sound different from traditional instruments, guarantees a unique listening experience, even for well-known pieces of music - whether classical or modern . The orchestra's repertoire includes original compositions, as well as interpretations of pieces by Igor Stravinsky, the German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk and the Viennese sound formation Radian.

 

 

After each concert, the musical instruments become what they really are: vegetables. A chef belonging to the vegetable orchestra produces a vegetable soup from the instruments, which is distributed to the concertgoers so that they can take the music with them not only in their hearts but also in their stomachs.

 

Das Orchester tritt in Europa und Asien auf, unter anderem im Wiener Konzerthaus, bei den Osterfestspielen in Salzburg, dem Sonar (Festival) in Barcelona, während des RomaEuropa Festival in Rom und in der Royal Festival Hall in London. Der Fernsehsender ARTE widmete ihnen eine Dokumentation.

 

The orchestra performs in Europe and Asia, including the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Salzburg Easter Festival, the Sonar (Festival) in Barcelona, the RomaEuropa Festival in Rome and the Royal Festival Hall in London. The TV station ARTE dedicated a documentary to them.

 

The inspiration for this truly unique orchestra comes from Fluxus's musical interpretations, compositions by John Cage (Branches, 1976), as well as strong influences from sound art and experimental and electronic music. A performance by the vegetable orchestra is a thrilling mixture of performance and concert.

Lineup/Description of Style

Band/Ensemble MemberInstrument

The ensemble is made up of a heterogeneous group of artists who call themselves "GemüsikerInnen" and see their interdisciplinary approach as an integral part of their musical identity, and thus work together on the exploration and further development of vegetable music. In addition to trained musicians, the orchestra includes sculptors, architects, designers, media artists, writers and sound poets. The ensemble consists of: Christina Bauer, Jürgen Berlakovich, Nikolaus Gansterer, Susanna Gartmayer, Barbara Kaiser, Matthias Meinharter, Jörg Piringer, Richard Repey, Maria Monika Steinauer, Ingrid Schlögl, Ulrich Troyer, Tamara Wilhelm.

Discography, Performances, Projects

Discography:

  • 2010: Onionnoise (Monkey)
  • 2003: Automate (Extraplatte)
  • 1999: Gemise (Extraplatte / Institut für transakustische Forschung)

Field of Activity of (Person)