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– In the sky I am walking …

Dream Song (Chippewa); Love Song (Chippewa); War Song (Pawnee); Love Song (Nootka), Song sung over a dying person (Chippewa); Opening prayer of the Sun Dance (Teton Sioux); Peruvian Dance Song (Ayacucho); Plaint against the Fog (Nootka); A Song by Nezahualcoyotl (Aztec); Song to bring fair weather (Nootka); Love Song (Aztec); Song of a man who received a vision (Teton Sioux)

Iara ensemble
Miranda Westcott and Monica Acosta – voices
Monica Rubio – video

Enterprise 09 Festival
The Space, London E14, 21/22 April 2009



The vocal duet In the sky I am walking… ("Am Himmel wandre ich…") is one of the thirteen components of the multimedia Alphabet für Liège composed by Stockhausen and premiered there in 1972. Envisaged for two female voices, on that occasion the singers involved were a mezzo-soprano and a tenor, but the work was always conceived as adaptable to singers with any mix of vocal ranges. 


The text and the composer's precise performance instructions were supplied in the excellent programme and can also be accessed as .pdf on Iara Ensemble's website.


The two singers must sit on the floor facing each other and at eye level with their audience.  Whilst they have considerable freedom in shaping the dynamics, their movements are precisely notated. 


The first song, which gives the cycle its name, is confined to one pitch and appears deceptively simple.  The palette expands, like the weaving of silks of different colours, leading to all twelve pitches blending in the final song. 


The composer’s notes include details of the tone row, which, in its unfolding, results in all melodies of the work.



Because of the freedoms allowed the work demands complete focus of attention from each singer.  The line is passed from one voice to another, sometimes blending, sometimes counterpointing. One senses that in creating a unique and often exciting experience for the listener each singer is pushed to the edge of their “comfort zone”. 















There is an hypnotic element to Stockhausen’s cycle, with the insidious melodies and rhythms of the ancient Native American songs combining and contrasting with one another in a kaleidoscope of sound.   This effect was enhanced by the video created for the occasion by Monica Rubio, mixing abstract and specific images in harmony with the musical images. Rustling forest leaves accompanying a passage where the singers vocalised (and whistled) the sounds of birds and animals were particularly effective, as was the dance sequence.


The two singers, Monica Acosta and Miranda Westcott, have worked together for a number of years, and had performed this work before – at The Handel House – surely a ‘first’ for that venue.

Monica Acosta, the founder of the iara ensemble comes from Columbia and her repertoire encompasses both opera, contemporary music and popular music projects.  She is dedicated to the promotion and performance of music related to or inspired by the culture of the Americas. Miranda Westcott made her debut at the Royal Opera House in 2006 and recently sang Jenny Diver in The Beggar's Opera in the Linbury.

The Space on the Isle of Dogs, a chapel converted into an arts venue, made the perfect venue with its small stage and auditorium, and the audience became as fully engaged as the performers. 


Finally a word of praise for the excellent programme including both Stockhausen’s personal notes and the texts of the twelve songs. 


Serena Fenwick

There is a VoxNova/Mode recording (currently out of stock but try Amazon) [editor]space

Sitting Bull and Cree teepees adorn the CD book, but purists beware: there are only eight minutes of folk songs here... Stockhausen's "In The Sky I Am Walking..." sets Indian texts but uses no Native American musical material... Nicholas Isherwood and Isabelle Soccoja's interpretation of Stockhausen's 1972 vocal duet is impressive, even if it takes certain liberties: they transpose the whole piece down a minor third, substantially changing its tone color. - - This curious but touching work may look back to "Stimmung" and "Telemusik" in its intoning of magic names, but more importantly it prefigures the melodic simplicity of the later "Licht" operas - - the ending with the singers receding into the distance is magical.
--- Paris Transatlantic Review, November 2000


P.S. A promo-video of this production is available on request from Iara ensemble