Text: Laura Roling
Next to Joseph Haydn’s, a second name is on display on Missa in tempore belli’s playbill: Janiv Oron. The Swiss-Israeli Oron composes experimental electronic music, which he often performs on stage himself.
Oron is familiar with the world of opera and classical music, thanks to director Barbora Horáková, with whom he has already collaborated before. “Our first collaboration was in 2015, when she asked me for a project on the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele in Germany. I performed live with an 8-channel sound installation, in the middle of a group of dancers. Our specific way of collaborating was, thus, already very interdisciplinary from the beginning. Ever since, some joint projects followed in Moskou, Graz and Bilbao.” When Horáková contacted him in May 2021 for Missa in tempore belli, Oron agreed immediately. “I love to experiment, especially within art forms and organizations in which everything is usually fixed, such as opera.”
Responding to Haydn
Before he was asked for this project, Janiv Oron had never heard of the ‘Paukenmesse’. “I knew Joseph Haydn and his better known pieces, obviously, but I had not yet encountered this mass.” What struck him while listening to it? “To a certain degree, I see some similarities between Haydn and contemporary pop music. Haydn was meticulously good at constructing larger structures based on fairly simple musical motifs. You hear a great professional at work. I also really appreciate the contrasts in his music, which is at the same time abstract and emotional, polyphonic and anthemic and enlightened and religious.”
Oron’s additional compositions should mainly ‘go against the grain’. “I was inspired by certain developments and anchor points in Haydn’s music, but eventually, my task was mainly to create strong contrasts. Therefore, I worked closely with Barbora, in order to find the correct transitions, soundscapes and rhythms for the production and what happens on stage.”
Lorenzo Viotti granted Oron absolute freedom. “In the beginning of the process, he visited my studio in Basel, where I showed him the setup of my installation and the way it would sound. Instantly, there was a great connection between us. He gave me the greatest liberty and trust.”
Live and pre-fixed
Oron describes his music as “advanced ambient soundscapes, which focuses on timbre and texture”. He strives for “a certain fluidity, a space in which different sonic forms of life can merge, as it were”.
In Missa in tempore belli, these different ‘sonic forms of life’ merge on the stage, where Janiv Oron produces his music himself, fully in sight of the audience. Contrary to DJs who take in their place behind their turntables, load up a sound file and fake their spontaneous mixing, Oron actually creates his music live. “About thirty percent of my composition is pre-fixed, because the timing should match the visuals and dance. But I create the other seventy percent live on stage.” In order to prepare for this efficiently, Oron attended every rehearsal since the beginning. “What you hear is the result of a long and intense period of preparations in the rehearsal room with the dancers and the artistic team.”