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Open Haus: Maya Shenfeld Under the Sun





Sunday, July 07, 2024


Listening Experience

Harnessing the rhythmic noises of the machine age, oboes, analog voices and a chorus of synthesizers, Maya Shenfeld invites industrial hypnosis with her new sonic artwork.

Under the Sun is composed largely from field recordings made in the sweltering heat of the Vila Viçosa marble quarry in Portugal, an open scar digging 150 meters into the Earth. The title of the work is a wry reference to the famous declaration in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is nothing truly new under our star. Shenfeld draws our attention to how extraction is sculpting the planet, asking whether our moment in history may be an exception to the rabbinical observation, attuning us to the latent possibilities that lie within every scratch and hum.

In Shenfeld’s hands, the accidental noises of physical labor become percussive. The experience of sound draws us unequivocally towards the material, with long reverberations off the marble walls of the pit. Hammer, drill and diamond cutter enter the symphony. Gusts of wind from the organ at St. Matthew’s Church and the Ritter Youth Choir, conducted by Ann-Kristin Mayr, evoke spirit returning to the rattling machine.

Reethaus presents this wordless meditation on the environment — both the environments we build and the environments we take apart in order to make our own, along with all the varied dissonance and harmony we create in that process — in a unique adaptation that calibrates Under the Sun to its 360-degree sound system.


Maya Shenfeld

Maya Shenfeld is a composer, sound artist whose symphonic ambient works have established her as a vital force in new music. Trained at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the Berlin University of the Arts, Shenfeld brings compositional rigor to a highly experimental range of sounds. Her debut album In Free Fall (2022) was hailed by the Guardian as one of the year’s best contemporary albums. Her musical installations have been presented at KW Institute for Contemporary Arts in Berlin and Kings Place in London. Under the Sun (2024), her latest issue, is a meditation both transcendent and yet ambivalent on Ecclesiastes and the built environment, composed from field recordings made at a marble quarry in Portugal and featuring the organ at St. Matthew’s Church.