Michael Finnissy on “bas&koen&nora”
This is a piece about performers. It could be thought a concert - but it could also be viewed (heard and seen)
as a sort of cabaret (without too much singing) - and also as a sort of installation.
It has violins, strange hats, beautiful texts by Paul van Ostaijen, trombones, Spanish dances, a few scraps of nineteenth century opera, Irish protest songs, a dulcimer, a harmonium, Haydn String Quartets (re-constituted by a crazed archaeologist), pianos, and an Egyptian ballet.
Or, more seriously: I am trying to confront, in a kind of dialogue and montage, issues that arise from our current pluralistic and polyvalent culture. Trying to assemble, in some kind of satirical post-Aristotelian ‘time frame’, memories of and responses to the poignant ‘found-objects’ of Ostaijen’s texts (some written during the siege of Antwerp in WWI) and the bizarre conflicts which persist between popular, vulgar, esoteric and elite forms of entertainment.
The piece draws on a large diversity of sources, in an attempt to establish some sort of equality between them.
In fact it would be possible to classify “bas&koen&nora” as both a concert and as a performance-installation. The piece reviews the lives of performers in the context of contemporary concert practice.
"People today think that it is scientists who should instruct them, and that musicians and poets are there simply to ENTERTAIN: that the arts have something to teach humanity never occurs to them" Ludwig Wittgenstein 
This piece acknowledges UNCERTAINTY and ERASURE. As the music is played it disappears, the performance erases itself. The found objects - Haydn String Quartets, Spanish Dances by Sarasate, nineteenth century operatic fragments are also erased by 'modernistic' and cybernetic processing. They are uncertain from the word 'go'. Uncertain in there direction, inconclusive, like drawings in sand as the sea comes in, like riddles and insoluble questions.
"Like the mass media, who peddle obscenity and fear to satisfy the ratings, contemporary nihilism exposes the drama of an aesthetic of disappearances that no longer exclusively involves the domain of representation"
Paul Virilio, Art and Fear 
It might also be perceived as satirical or ironic, and certainly derived from similar notions to the 'Beseiged City' of Van Ostaijen, with its plethora of references and crazy verbal quilting, grabbing on to the commonplace, the dislocated labels, the sentimental, the erotic, the unintelligible, the discarded rubbish, all sorts of poetic shrapnel.”