GAACH - quasi eine Volksoper (GAACH - a folk opera as it were)

a participative project

A production of the Munich Biennale and the Munich School of Adult Education

artistic direction: Catherine Milliken, Robyn Schulkowksy, Dietmar Wiesner;

The word ›gaach‹, according to Bavarian dictionaries, means ›steep‹; ›Gaach‹ provided the original name for the Gasteig Cultural Center in the Haidhausen quarter of Munich. »GAACH – quasi eine Volksoper« (a kind of folk opera) is also the title of a participative musical theater performance. The authors, dramaturges, actors and musicians, whether amateur or professional, have been in constant dialogue with each other, and with the »GAACH«-creative team, researching, inventing, an rehearsing together over the past 10 months. Content and focus of the opera is Haidhausen; its geography, its literature, and the historical and ethnological dimensions of the actual quarter, including personal perspectives of the participants.

»GAACH« participants are from diverse backgrounds and generations, such as the Volkshochschule, Munich school of adult education, REFUGIO Munich, a counseling center for refugees and victims of torture, the Odeon Youth Orchestra, and members of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

The final performance at the Gasteig Cultural Center will present mosaic pieces of a city quarter in all its uniqueness, translating and transforming Haidhausen into a musical  score, at the same time reconstructing it spatially, as an interpretive installation: »Original with subtitles«.

Artistic directors

The musicians Catherine Milliken, Robyn Schulkowsky and Dietmar Wiesner worked closely together artistically for more than three decades performing together. For ten years now they have been working with professional artists and amateurs, developing new ways of presenting performances, sharing their experiences as soloists, composers, and lecturers as well as sharing their passion for new contemporary forms of music. Together they conceive participative formats and carry them out successfully at international festivals and in concert halls, and they were and are especially concerned with the exploration of artistic and high-quality development processes with people of different cultural and social origins.

Catherine Milliken artistic direction

Catherine Milliken completed her music degree in Australia, majoring in performance (piano and oboe). She then continued her oboe studies in Europe under Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue. As a founding member of the renowned group for contemporary music, Ensemble Modern Germany until 2006, she worked with leading composers and conductors of this century including Heiner Goebbels, Peter Eötvös, Elena Kats, Frank Zappa, György Ligeti and Karlheinz Stockhausen (who produced her performance of »Spiral« on CD -Stockhausen Verlag 45).

Her compositional career began in 1990. She has since then, composed for theatre, opera, radio, film and created installations and has been commissioned by the South Bank Centre London , the Berliner Saatsoper, Staatstheatre in Darmstadt, the ZKM (Centre for New Media) Karlsruhe, the CCMIX(enakis) Centre in Paris, as well as Concerto Köln, Ensemble Resonanz, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and other international contemporary music festivals such as Tectonics Festival.

In 1994 she formed the HCD-Productions with composer colleagues Dietmar Wiesner and Hermann Kretzschmar. Together they conceived installations, performances, produced CD’s and composed radio plays for which they received such prizes as the »Prix Italia«.

She has also received the Prix Marulic, and in 2015 the prestigious Prix Italia for a second time together with Dietmar Wiesner for the radio play »Bunyah«. As well, the collaborative opera »Comfort Ye« received  the european YAMA award last year for »Best opera for young audiences«. Her recent orchestral work »Earth Plays« for the Musica Viva series of the Bayrischer Rundfunk Orchestra and mezzo Soprano premiered in December 2015, receiving critical acclaim.

She still regularly performs and improvises with voice, oboe and electronics in various chamber- formations including with peformers such as Angie Milliken, Kate Strong and David Moss, as well as with members of Ensemble Modern and Ensemble Extrakte. Her next upcoming appearance will be in New York at the armory in Louise Andriessens' opera »De Materie«.

She was director of the Education Program of the Berliner Philharmoniker from 2005-2012 and is internationally recognised as a leading creative director and composer. Most recent creative projects have led her to artistic collaborations in South Africa, Japan and Israel.  Positions held now include being part of creative team for the Munich Biennale for Music Theatre 2016. She lives in Berlin as a free lance composer, performer and creative director and is presently doing a doctorate on composition and collaboration.

Robyn Schulkowsky artistic direction

Born and raised in South Dakota, Robyn Schulkowsky has been an innovator and collaborator throughout her life. Already during her studies in Iowa and Germany, and later on international solo tours, Schulkowsky has dedicated herself to revealing the wonders of percussion to people around the world. Her continuous exploration of new sound dimensions has led to the development of new and unusual musical instruments.

An active musician on five continents, Robyn moved to Germany during a heyday of experimental and adventurous classical composition. She has premiered and recorded some of the most important percussion works of the 20th and 21st centuries, working with composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen. John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Morton Feldman, presenting their works during tours to West Africa, India, Asia, South America and Mexico, the USA, as well as at major European Music Festivals.

Robyn Schulkowsky's adventurous nature connects her with exceptional project partners, and, also with alternative performance spaces. She has collaborated with legendary African drummer Kofi Ghanaba, visual artist Guenther Uecker, actress Edith Clever, social scientist Nilam Ram, and choreographers Merce Cunningham and Sasha Waltz.

Since 1998, as founder of RhythmLab, she has taken drumming workshops to countless cities, involving students, professionals and aficionados alike in rhythm workshops and concerts of original percussion music. Originally conceived for children and teenagers, often conducted specifically for adults, the experience focuses on the immediacy of sonic discovery and the tactile intensity in music. in rhythm, sound and movement. Last year, based on sketches by the American composer Charles Ives.  she directed an interpretation of "Life Pulse Prelude" with over 80 percussionists in Bonn and Berlin, Germany.

Schulkowsky's virtuosity has been captured on over 20 recordings, including cds with violist Kim Kashkashian and trumpet players Nils Petter Molvaer and Reinhold Friedrich, and seminal recordings of compositions by Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, with whom she has collaborated for over 20 years.

In 2005 she collaborated with the sound aritist Lukas Kuehne and the drummet Joey Baron for Space and Frequency-RhythmLab, a Live Sonic Sculpture in New York's Grand Central Station. Her opera, »Child of the Sea Otter« was Premiered in Oldenburg, Germany in 2008 and repeated in Berlin and Mannheim. Her percussion trio composition, »Armadillo«,  was released last year on New World Records.

Dietmar Wiesner artistic direction

As a co-founder of and flutist in Ensemble Modern he has been actively involved since the beginning in all of the artistic and organizational processes of the ensemble, and he works with the most important composers of his time. He performs regularly in Germany and abroad, and also as a soloist with orchestras such as, among others, the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg. He has worked as a composer for installations and music theater productions at, among other institutions, Comédie Française Paris; Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg; and Schauspiel Frankfurt. In 1994 he founded with Hermann Kretzschmar and Catherine Milliken the composer formation HCD Productions. He has been a lecturer at the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) and the Frankfurter Musikhochschule (HfMDK) since 2005. He has been the director of the educational projects »lautstark« of the music festival Klangspuren Schwaz and ›Zukunft@Bphil‹ of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2007.

Cast & credits

artistic direction: Catherine Milliken, Robyn Schulkowksy, Dietmar Wiesner


course participants of the Munich School of Adult Education (MVHS): Lecturers: Andreas Agler (chorus); Sacha Anema (theater); Emine Capartas (creative design and sewing); Petra Dahlemann (German, advanced penmanship); Angela Flesch (Bavarian folk dance); Sabine Klem (photography as an experiment, "GAACH – the photographic documentation"); Eva Kölln (Tribal Fusion Belly Dance); Veronika von Lauer-Münchhofen (tap dance); Shoshana Liessmann (NeueMusikSalon); Barbara Löffler (chorus); Manuela Malakooti (German); Patricia Petapermal (French); Gérard Pleynet (platform for photography, "GAACH – the photographic documentation"); Ulrich Pöppl (the MVHS intercultural get-together for pupils); Gabi Probst-Eisenreich (string ensemble); Anatol Regnier (guitar ensemble); Thomas Rödl (samba percussion); Christian Roßmeißl (saxophone ensemble); Gisela Rüger (painting and drawing); Astrid Schleusener (Greek folk dance); Anastasia Simopoulos (literature circles); Alexander Strauch (orchestra)

Project director MVHS: Marianne Müller-Brandeck

Blasmusik der Münchner Philharmoniker, musical director: Albert Osterhammer
Members of the Odeon–Jugendsinfonieorchester München
Refugio, directors: Doris Kohlenberger, Pascal Momboisse, and Sam Ritzinger
lecturer: Babou Bojang
Erzbischöfliches Maria-Ward-Gymnasium Nymphenburg, director of the choir class: Reinhold-Michael Kutscher
Samba Sole Luna

A production of the Munich Biennale and the Munich School of Adult Education
With the friendly support of the Department of Arts and Culture of the City of Munich, the Association of Friends and Sponsors of the Munich School of Adult Education and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Language: German

MVHS Münchner Philharmoniker LHM

duration: approx. 60 minutes