Performing: Meitar Ensemble

String quartet (2 violins, viola, cello,) + live electronics, live performance, live video projection (back screen), software programming

World premiere: Teatro Comunale “L. Pavarotti” Modena, Italy L'Altro suono Festival as part of Modena UNESCO City of Media Arts, 24 March 2023


Similar to the artist's line of synaesthetic-aesthetic research, the stage of About birds is icono-sonic, that is, an arena with equal expression of sound (musical, digital, vocal and noise) and visual (video-art, installation, performance art).

Six 'domestic grids' - scenic rectangles created by the artist with unexpected, household objects made from theater props - are displayed on the stage, symbolizing imprisonment and at the same time creating micro performance action areas.

Joining the corridors of light portrayed on the stage, the simple design of a House emerges, which of the lockdown period has proved to be a fundamental component in our lives, a refuge and a cage at the same time; hence Avital's unusual request to observe the performance, not from the stalls but exclusively from the boxes, to suggest a revealing look 'from above'.


The video part was taken by Avital during the artistic confinement he directed taken Villa I Pianazzi in Zocca with three of the quartet's musicians. The villa in fact could be read as a fourth protagonist of the work - bringing back the centrality of the House. The immersive process included dozens of performance exercises in order to achieve a symbolic transformation of the musicians into birds. The projected scenes - some extremely elaborate in post production and distorted through generative modules - unfold over the approximately two hours of the opera, divided into 30 clips corresponding to sections of the score, bringing intimacy, solitude, nature, memory, dream and transformation.

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Avital’s ‘Job’ presents an allegorical and piercing picture that results from an extensive research carried out by the artist, whose polyhedral nature has become a distinguishing feature in his works. Very different and unexpected elements intertwine, bringing on an intense conversation between national and international excellences. The spectacular images from NASA’s Solar Observatory alternate with precious historical archive materials of RAI Teche, and with the face of Liliana Segre. A symbolical alter ego of Job but also his real embodiment, her face is shown in an intense silent interview with the great PMCE ensemble from Rome’s Auditorium, and with the remarkable vocal soloists from Dresden’s AuditivVokal. By doing so, visual and sound multimedia created by advanced technologies face three religious soloists of ancient monotheistic traditions.

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The score uses a multiplicity of musical references, part of Avital's language - tight rhythmic writing, modal melodic 'chants,' timbral and post-spectralist sections, atonal polyphony, aleatory parts and graphic sections. A complex language but not eclectic in the post-modern sense, rather a synthesis, the result of heterogeneous identity roots and an equally non-linear art journey; an articulated composition that comes into being by indulging the inner script of the work, its directionality and ensemble. Moreover, the score contains a series of directions for the quartet's interaction with the projected films and, in some sections, to the performative process carried out in Zocca by the musicians themselves. A kind of mise en abîme formed by a constellation of mirrors and mirrors of parallel narratives.
This is Avital's second collaboration with Ensemble Meitar (after Fuga Perpetua (2016), also premiered at Teatro Comunale Pavarotti-Freni). Performing, or rather "performing" About birds is a daunting challenge, both because of the virtuosic written parts, which put the soloist and the ensemble on the edge of the executable, and because of their total and autobiographical participation in the creative phase and on stage. On this occasion, too, the ensemble showed extraordinary dedication, having as their main purpose and absolute belief the search for new fronts in contemporary music.


The last key component of the work is BirdScore, a generative performance application, programmed by Avital specifically for About birds, which creates endless combinations of textual, sonic and visual cues that unfold both in the creative process and in the work itself.

Almost precisely three years after the first lockdown, we present here About birds, an extremely personal and private notebook-diary of the artist and at the same time, the symbolic parable of an episode that strongly marked an entire humanity, perhaps removed from our minds, but certainly not yet fully understood and overcome.