Watch the premiere of Mara Schwerdtfeger’s string quartet ‘Movements’ performed by Ensemble Apex


This video comes from the premiere of Mara Schwerdtfeger’s string quartet Movements, which was performed by Ensemble Apex as part of the exhibition Gathering Geographies hosted at Darren Knight Gallery in February 2022. What’s so fascinating about this piece is that for the first two sections they are using their breathing to guide the rhythms before coming together in the last section. This makes each performance unique to the players and the time it occurs.

Mara is a composer and curator creating multidisciplinary performances, installations, events and recordings. Her practice explores the crossover between physical and digital environments through the use of field recording and digital manipulation.

This is what she has to say about Movements:

“Using the French philosopher and sociologist Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis theory, Movements imitates the “interminable rhythm[s]” of slowness and growth within a string quartet structure. Through parts that carry a sense of disarray and separation from each other, awareness and “disturbed coordination” is formed in both the performer and listener. The players keep time with their individual breaths, causing repeated sequences to interplay as different patterns within each iteration. The group may not necessarily play together in the traditional sense but interaction and body rhythms synchronise them. Therefore, the composition is constantly shifting with the sequences becoming both cyclical and linear as frequency and measure are manipulated.”

You can find Mara’s work here. And you can find out more about Ensemble Apex here.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.