Electronic ensemble

excerpt from Correspondance by Yannis Kyriakides on Vimeo.

correspondance was part of the performance Boulez vs Cage, concieved, composed and performed by KHZ kollektiv at the Holland Festival 2015.


  • Aftab Darvishi
  • Andrius Arutiunian
  • Edgars Rubenis
  • Eirik Brandal
  • Lam Lai
  • Maya Verlaak
  • Sascha Thiele
  • Yannis Kyriakides
  • Yael Levy
  • Yvonne Freckmann

Sound projection: Marko Uzunovski

KHZ kollektiv is the electronic ensemble of the composition faculty of the Royal Conservatory, a variable group of about 6-12 students run by Yannis Kyriakides meeting in the Karlheinz Stockhausen Studio every week exploring the performance and composition possibilities of historic electronic instruments and their modern counterparts.


The concept of the piece revolves around the letters exchanged by Pierre Boulez and John Cage between 1949 and 1954. The friendship of these two then young composers is surprising for the fact that they represented seemingly opposing camps of the avant-garde. In the early fifties, they shared common interests and influences, both were fascinated by the implications of non-traditional playing techniques, and in search for new forms of structuring sound. Through the letters and throughout the ensuing 5 years, there is a sense of their paths growing further apart, culminating in what was to be their irreconcilable views on chance and indeterminacy: Boulez believing that chance must be entirely controlled whereas for Cage it was a process for liberating sounds.

Fragments of these correspondences spanning their five year friendship are used as material in the work. Two projection screens on either side of the path project fragments of these letters, reinforced by sound composed and played by the ensemble, split into the two respective groups. The material of the work is largely drawn from works referred to in the letters; sampled, synthesized, convoluted or granulated. The form of the work eventually highlight the two composer's different implementation of aleatoric technique.

The eventual work Boulez vs Cage was a collective composition by members of KHZ. Ideas and material was brought in by everybody and then collectively developed in the rehearsal process. An aleatoric form was chosen for the piece to reflect the concerns of the correspondacnes; in this way the order of the sections of the fragments is chosen randomly, during the course of each performance.