Ezequiel Menalled: “Claudio Baroni builds a strong musical language”

Ensemble Modelo62 will perform two pieces by Claudio Baroni on February 26. We spoke with Ezequiel Menalled, founder and conductor of Modelo62, about the composer, what he missed most during the pandemic and how it influenced Modelo62 as an ensemble. 

You had to make some last-minute changes to the programme you present at Festival Dag in de Branding due to the Covid restrictions. Could you tell us a little bit about that and how the pandemic has influenced your Ensemble?
Three degrees from reality is an interdisciplinary work conceived during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were working really hard to premiere the work in our city-base for our Haagse audience, with full support from Festival Dag In De Branding and Korzo Theater in the coming edition. Originally the piece was dealing with the concept of the 1,5 meter “social distance”. However, when we started the open rehearsals in last October, we realized that this distancing felt outdated and that most of the participants did not want to keep this distance. In fact, they wanted to interact in a free way! Paradoxically, because we changed the nature of the piece, it is not possible to present it now with the given measurements. But luckily, if the situation allows it, we will present it in the 65 Edition of Festival Dag In De Branding, on coming 15th of October.

In relation to the impact of the pandemic, Ensemble Modelo62 was affected in the same way as all the other people, groups and institutions from the cultural world: we had to deal with a lot of very sudden changes of plans, with short and midterm planning simultaneously, which results in a lot of extremely difficult decision making, with high risks in each decision. That is a stressful situation, and therefore the staff members underwent a rollercoaster of emotions…but luckily not all at the same time, so we could be supportive with each other.

As an alternative programme, you have chosen for works by the composer Claudio Baroni. What is it that fascinates you about Baroni?
Firstly I like to highlight the wonderful support that we received from Caroline Bakker, Isa Goldschmeding and Shane Burmania when we had to postpone Three degrees from reality. They immediately offered us to propose an alternative program and they provided all the necessary means for it to happen! This shows that Festival Dag in de Branding goes above and beyond for their musicians and for this we are extremely grateful.

We have extensively collaborated with Claudio F Baroni for many years now. We play his music regularly and he is a good friend of Modelo62. Last November we premiered the two works that we will present in the present program and we received very positive feedback after the concert. When the opportunity of performing an alternative program appeared, I immediately thought about bringing this wonderful music to Den Haag. I believe that Claudio builds a strong musical language which makes his work distinctive and unique. I am fascinated by the poetic way in which he relates to the topics he chooses for building his compositions. In that sense, I think it comes out clearly that his music consists of a well-balanced relation between a conceptual development and intuitive decision making. I particularly love the magic moments in which you cannot explain rationally why some musical element are present but they make sense anyway. The music would not flow without them!

In Confessions Baroni uses Anne Carson’s poetry which revolves around small everyday events that have suddenly disappeared from our lives during the pandemic. Which events have you personally missed the most for the last two years?
I used to take dance classes, and dancing and touching others during the class is something I definitely miss and missed. I also missed meeting with friends and family without having to think about a “protocol” a lot. I come from a cultural background in which there is more physical contact in the day by day, and I realized that I missed that a lot.

Vis insita is based on a technique that Baroni developed for double bass and a loop station. What is this work about?
Of course I think that Claudio F Baroni could say much more about it, but I will try to put it with my own words: simple sonic layers are created by each instrument and are repeated through the loop stations. Throughout the accumulation of these layers one can witness the metamorphosis of extremely simple sound textures into very complex ones. It is a wonderful perceptual experience!

Ensemble Modelo62 will perform on February 26 4:30 PM at KORZO
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