Teenage Lontano (2008)

Developed during 2007 and premiered in 2008 for the Whitney Biennial, Marina Rosenfeld's Teenage Lontano is a "cover version" of composer György Ligeti’s utopian-modernist 1967 orchestral work Lontano, reconfigured as as a choral composition for teenagers. For the first performance of the work, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, a choir of 34 teenagers sang along to a suite of 17 different vocal scores heard via earphones and mp3 players. Rosenfeld laboriously transcribed and interpreted Ligeti's orchestral score, creating a new digital score more than twice as long as the original. With shared pairs of earbud-style headphones distributed to them mostly in pairs, the teenagers were able to sing along to Rosenfeld's voice in one ear, while mainly hearing their own voices and the voices of their immediate neighbors in the other, enabling the choir as a whole to produce a series of complex dissonances that casually evoke the heyday of modernist complexity, but via dramatically contemporary means. The work also encircles both choir and audience with an added layer of freely interpolated electronics, which sweep the architecture of the performance site--for the premiere, a massive former military drill hall--with arcs of abstract sound from a single horn suspended overhead and rotating at the "phonographic" speed of 33 1/3 r.p.m.

Since 2008, Teenage Lontano has been mounted internationally, including in Slovenia, Holland, Australia and Norway, always with local teenaged participants.  An installation version of the work has also been exhibited at Tou-Scene, Stavanger, Sweden, the James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, and the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.