The Splitter Orchester, founded in 2010, is a Berlin-based collection of internationally respected Composer-Performers which draws inspiration from many genres, most noticibly contemporary and improvised music. Splitter Orchester originates from the “Echtzeitmusik” scene, which emerged in Berlin in the mid-1990s – a locally based and globally networked experimental music scene and long-term platform for the exchange of artistic ideas.
All members of the Splitter Orchester are simultaneously composers, interpreters and improvisers that collectively elude clear classification of an ensemble most comfortable in the creative borderland between composed and improvised music. They utilize a broad variety of extended techniques on traditional, electronic, and especially constructed/tailored instruments. The main focus in their artistic practice is the production of sound (as opposed to musical material) and on how to diffuse it in space. The collaborative nature of musical creation within a Composer-Performer context is integral – from the first sketch to the performance.
Ten different nationalities are represented in the orchestra, although all members are based Berlin. Splitter Orchester is an example of how the contemporary music scene in an international context is changing and experimenting, especially in Berlin, with newer forms of musical communication and presentation.
Splitter Orchester is not a homogenous body, but consists of a variety of autonomous and ultra-specialized musicians/composers who choose not to work in an institutionalized framework and put existing hierarchies in the music establishment in question. The whole group relies on each member equally and deliberately denies established leadership roles to create an experimental production field, which is process-oriented and, therefore, socially relevant in a broader sense.
The long-term ongoing collective work processes of the orchestra utilises a wide range of improvisational and compositional approaches – analysing and contextualising specific methods and practices of composition and improvisation. Over five years of experimentation, the ensemble has developed an extraordinary artistic profile and specific group sound.
The Splitter Orchester was founded in April 2010 by Clare Cooper, Clayton Thomas and Gregor Hotz with the goal of creating a unique orchestra in Berlin to represent the stylistically diverse "Echtzeitmusik" scene. Thanks to the initial support of the Hauptstadtkulturfonds, in the year 2010 the launch of a work process was enabled, which permitted the artistic development of the orchestra and also provided it with a new audience. At the end of November 2010, Splitter Orchester premiered with a nearly sold-out concert in "Radialsystem" and was received enthusiastically by the audience.
In November 2011 the orchestra followed this success with another notable concert at WABE, which was filled to capacity.
In July 2012, the orchestra performed at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, where, in addition to a first collaboration with the german composer Mathias Spahlinger (doppelt bejaht Etude for an orchestra without a conductor), it presented an original composition.
In September 2013 Splitter Orchester performed for the first time abroad. At the invitation of the Paris-based "Orchestre National de Creation, Experimentation et d’ Improvisation Musicale" (ONCEIM) and thanks to the support of the Franco-German Fund for Contemporary Music, Splitter Orchester played in Paris in the church of Saint -Merry (Festival CRAK).
Splitter Orchester @ studioboerne45, 2017/12/11
In 2013 the collaboration with the young Norwegian composer Øyvind Torvund began. Torvund was a guest of the Berlin Artists Programme of the DAAD in 2013/14. During his residency Torvund developed jointly with the Splitter Orchester the composition "Constructing Jungle Books", which was premiered in 2014 at the MaerzMusik Festival in the Berlin Museum of Natural History. The process of this compositional collaboration was presented in three concert presentations in 2013 that were produced by the DAAD.
Following the premiere of "Constructing Jungle Books", Splitter Orchester played the original composition "Splitters and Lumpers". The same program was also presented at the Borealis Festival 2014 in Bergen (Norway). Eyvind Torvund was nominated for the "Nordic Council Music Prize" with "Constructing Jungle Books".
In May 2015, Manos Tsangaris and Enno Poppe invited Splitter Orchester to curate an evening of Splitter Music at the Academy of Arts (Berlin) in the frame of the festival “Musik für alle”.
The program presented the orchestra in different formats including a spatial live installation, Splitter Groups as well as the world premiere of Resonator III, a composition for orchestra and video by Werner Dafeldecker and Guillaume Cailleau.
On November 5, 2015, Splitter Orchester and George Lewis (USA) opened the Berlin Jazzfest with the world premiere of Creative Construction SetTM (George Lewis, 2015).
In the end of November 2015, the orchestra played two concerts at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in England. Both the new composition from and with George Lewis and their own compositions and improvisations were presented in Huddersfield
In September 2016, Splitter Orchester played in Geneva at Théâtre du Galpon. November 2016 saw the premiere of Splitter Music Festival in Berlin, showcasing diverse formats and collaborations.
In 2017 the orchestra cam together for two extensive working phases, one in March and one in December. During the December phase, they recorded “Frozen Orchestra (Splitter)” by and with The Pitch, which was released in April 2018 as the orchestra’s third release by Mikroton Recordings.
The working phases lead to the establishment of monthly rehearsals in 2018, used for further developing of the group’s unique sound. In August 2018, Splitter Orchester was invited to play two concerts at Festival Météo in Mulhouse, France. Besides a new group improvisation, the orchestra premiered “Vollbild” (2018) by french composer-performer Jean-Luc Guionnet, which was specifically written for Splitter Orchester. Back in Berlin, Splitter Orchester played the opening concert for the second Month of Contemporary Music at Heimathafen Neukölln, presented by Kontraklang and field notes. The concert featured a spatial collective improvisation and the world premiere of “Nilreb Variations” (2017/18) by Ignaz Schick, dedicated to the orchestra. In October 2018, Splitter Orchester teamed up with Berlin-based ensemble mosaik and conductor Ilan Volkov to present a conceptualized evening of music at Radialsystem V. The piece “Public People” (2018) by British composer and vocalist Alwynne Pritchard was specifically written to bring together a large scale improvising orchestra like Splitter Orchester with a contemporary music ensemble like mosaik.
In June 2019, Splitter Orchester presented the work Vollbild by Jean-Luc Guionnet alongside a new collective improvisation at Radialsystem in Berlin. The concert took place as part of the "New Empathies" series at Radialsystem, which places its interdisciplinary focus on collaborative processes.
In November 2019, the second edition of the Splitter Music Festival took place at silent green in Berlin-Wedding. Under the title "Counterbalance!" the Splitter Orchester presented a three-day program of improvisations and compositions on a large scale, with Swedish ensemble Skogen, performance duo Skills and noise pioneers Oren Ambarchi & Will Guthrie as guests. The festival concluded with Continuum, a four-hour, continuous concert installation featuring all 38 performers represented at the festival.
In January 2020, the Splitter Orchester was invited to the Hamburg festival klub katarakt together with The Pitch, where they presented the piece Frozen Orchestra (Splitter) in a new version: Frozen Orchestra (katarakt).
During the pandemic of 2020, Splitter Orchester debuted in a livestream format from Berlin's Radialsystem. The concert series SCHRUMPF!, which is explicitly aimed at a family audience, invited the orchestra to present its music in June. In three contrasting instrumental groups, a full day of alternating dialogic formats with audience participation and concert streams were broadcast via Facebook and the project website.
With financial support from the BKM Reload grant, the Splitter Orchester realized its first ever site-specific outdoor concert on the pier of the Petersburg Art Space in Berlin-Charlottenburg in August 2020. The orchestra was set up in a row on the pier, with the audience on the opposite side of the Spree. Ambient sounds and the characteristic acoustic properties of the surroundings became part of the 80-minute concert.
For the 10th anniversary of the Splitter Orchester, the group realized Code of Silence, a three-part, process-oriented concert project beginning in September 2020 that directly addresses and questions the collective's working methods. Over the course of several months, the orchestra met for rehearsals in which nothing is spoken. The orchestra improvises and listens to a recording of the music together immediately afterwards. This process was repeated several times in each session. The results were presented in a live concert in September 2020, as well as two video recordings of the performances in February and March 2021.