GEORGES LENTZ - composer / sound artist
  Universal Edition
  Caeli enarrant III
  String Quartet(s)
  Cobar Sound Chapel
 Advice for conductors and performers of my 'Mysterium' pieces
Dear performers of my music, thank you very much for your interest and for reading the following notes!
General advice about the tempo:
The tempo indication (crotchet* = 30 / semiquaver** = 120) must be followed meticulously! It is recommended to check and interiorise the metronome marking (particularly the 120 semiquaver) just before going on stage for the performance. If anything, the tempo could perhaps be one notch faster than indicated, NEVER slower!! A slower tempo makes the music fall apart into individual notes, breaks up the flow and spells the death of the music!! A performance at the right speed must always have direction, forward motion and, in chorale-like passages, a big line and a legatissimo connection between chords (no bulges on individual notes!!). I have observed that semiquaver beats are often conducted/played too slowly; they then end up slowing down the whole piece! They must not - semiquaver beats must be exactly 120, exactly a quarter of the crotchet! The conductor mustn't 'wait' for the musicians or 'gather them up' on semiquaver beats - when they conduct at the precise tempo and stick to it, musicians will be able to rely on their pulse and will follow! Have a constant semiquaver click of 120 in your head and shape the music within this steady grid!

Specific advice for conductors:
From talking to orchestral musicians, I have gathered the following advice for conductors of my orchestral music:
Because all string players in my recent orchestral music have individual parts, the back desks must often take the initiative to play without relying on the concertmaster or the musicians in front of them (something they are often not used to). The conductor's beat must therefore be as BIG and as CLEAR as possible, at the risk of not looking very smooth or 'musical'. The music will speak for itself when the beat is extremely clear and the musicians can play with confidence! All beats must have an almost exaggerated DIRECTION in them (i.e. first beats really down, seconds to the left, thirds to the right, fourths up)! Moreover, it is definitely recommended to SUBDIVIDE crotchet beats into quavers***. However, while the main beat must be BIG, in a definite DIRECTION and from the whole ARM, the subdivision (the 'and'-beat) must be just a small, clear flick of the WRIST (i.e. not from the whole arm), so as to look clearly subordinate to the main beat. Both the main beat and the quaver subdivision must have a very definite CLICK to them! Be a beating machine!!!

Another important thing - DYNAMICS (particularly in works for orchestra)!! I often hear orchestral rehearsals where everything is played within a general p to mf. The result is a soup of sound with no transparency. A big part of the rehearsal must be spent insisting on dynamics being observed meticulously, even exaggerated!!! One group of instruments might have pp while another has ff, or else one passage might be pppp from everyone while another is fff. In other words, both vertically and horizontally, huge contrasts between a big sound and virtually nothing will bring out the architecture of the music. When dynamic contrasts are really observed, the music will take shape and speak!

In long, drawn-out crescendos, always save the biggest part of the crescendo for the very last moment - this gives the music more direction.

Advice against performances of multiple pieces:
My earlier 'Mysterium' pieces, especially smaller pieces such as Birrung, Nguurraa or Alkere, all have a somewhat similar meditative character and are really instrumentations of the early 'Mysterium' concept. They were never meant to be performed together, and in my opinion, they shouldn't be. One of these pieces in a concert is enough. Later works such as Ingwe are very different of course. Programming one of the early pieces together with Ingwe, or a part thereof, is ok.

* quarter note
** sixteenth note
*** eighth note