Group Improvisation 

Languages

Fascinated by the potential synergy of creative social alchemy, Nathan has been exploring and developing group improvisation languages since his teens.

 

 

Berlin Cobra #07 at Sophiensaele

Berlin Cobra #07 at Sophiensaele

He created the award winning Cobra Ensemble Cincinnati in 1998— concurrent to his bachelor studies in orchestral conducting— specializing in renderings of MacArthur “genius” Grant composer John Zorn’s notorious game-piece Cobra. In 1999 he was invited to direct Cobra in Santa Cruz, California, curated by the band Estradasphere. Upon moving to New York City in 2000, Zorn invited Nathan to play in Cobra under his direction.

In Holland in 2002, Nathan created the ensemble Collision Palace, which enjoyed collaborations with composers such as Pauline Oliveros, premiered a graphic score by Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, performed with Fred Frith in the Holland Festival, and won the praise of Frederic Rzewski for “best capturing the spirit” of his iconic protest score Coming Together. With this ensemble, Nathan also began translating the Cobra system into dance. During this time he was invited to workshop and direct his style of Cobra at festivals in Darmstadt, Barcelona, Ostrava, and Lisbon.

Upon moving to Berlin in 2005, Nathan initiated the Berlin Cobra series, with each edition featuring a different curator: A single performer who selects the other 11 performers of their temporary utopian band, which is then initiated in the form of a 3-day workshop by Nathan. Berlin Cobra is a limbic social laboratory, which is not bound to any particular scene or style, having been presented at diverse venues such as Kule, Ausland, HAU Theater, Ballhaus Naunyn, Sophiensaele, Mica Moca, and Werkstatt der Kulturen.


In 2010, Nathan led the first weeklong Organizing Desire workshop for dancers and musicians— a full translation of Cobra into dance— at the world’s largest international dance festival, ImPulsTanz in Vienna.


The first performance of Cobra on the African continent was directed by Nathan in Dakar, Senegal at the Institut Francais in June of 2013.


Nathan has also invented his own group improvisation system, Circle Opera.

 

DaKemistry Orchestra at Institut Français, Senegal

DaKemistry Orchestra at Institut Français, Senegal

“… Some amazing talents there. John Zorn should be so proud of his idea for allowing this to all happen…. I don’t think he could have even known what direction it took off on. And you… you’ve done some wonderful things for these people…the members of the band / the audience / anyone involved really. You gave them a way to actually touch madness…total insanity for the musician.

 

 

The communication between the players is like an intricate game of chess…but a game only you all know where the pieces are at… “we” think you are all moving the pawn…and then… BOOM… checkmate. We didn’t even know… but this game isn’t between two… and it’s not between nine… it varies its players…some team up and attack another… and then later become allies again. And then… all of you become pawns and just live in the moment… it’s an amazing display.

 

And the power exchange too… love how one moment you are the virtuoso firey maestro… then the next just mirroring a player's own commands, or even letting them go for the driver’s seat altogether… I wonder if Zorn’s way with the language is so commanding, yet as well balanced by trusting and facilitating others' energies.

 

 

Us as the audience can only sit and marvel at the game that you all continue upon… and that, my friend… is intriguing… to anyone… marketing-wise (which I know isn’t a concern of yours of mine, just a point) you have something that can develop into great things for everyone… opening your souls up on stage… musicians as a whole do it always… but there is something different about it being used as a means of literal communication.

 

 

Spiritually you are all filling yourselves with a true passion…a passion that drives you mad with desire when you feel the energies around you. Such an eclectic group you have… so many views represented… and everyone… PASSION and madness for it.”

 

an open letter to Nathan Fuhr

from (behavioral psychology PhD candidate) Karen Chen

February 1999

Cincinnati, Ohio

 

A review from Vlucht Magazine is excerpted on the NATHAN page.

Berlin Cobra #05

Ballhaus Naunyn, 6 January 2007

curated my Margareth Kammerer

(Set 1, piece 1)

 

Berlin Cobra #05

(Set 1, piece 2)

 

Berlin Cobra #05

(Set 2, piece 2)

 

Collsion Palace plays John Zorn’s Cobra

Bimhuis Amsterdam, 27 February 2004

 

Mini demo of Nathan's Circle Opera concept, by the South African artists collective Tayaka! October 2012