Schwarz auf Weiss


... dark and playful performance

... musical theatre by German composer and theater person Heiner Goebbels where musicians become actors – they not only play their instruments but speak, sing, play badminton, throw balls onto a drum, make tea, play dice on a cymbalom cover...

Musicians were set free and can be seen or heard everywhere – in the audience, in front or behind spectators, next to you...

Texts by E. A. Poe and T. S. Eliot in their English original or French, Czech and German versions sound through the performance. They are here not only for their content and significance but for the beuty of spoken word.

The very first new staging since 1996 world premiere (by Heiner Goebbels and Ensemble modern).

BERG Orchestra
SKUTR (Martin Kukučka / Lukáš Trpišovský) - directors
Peter Vrábel - music director a conductor
Jan Polívka - sets
Kristina Záveská - costumes
Michael Bláha - lighting design
Petr Kaláb - sound design
Eva Kesslová & Jiří Sulženko - production

Eduard Bayer – violin
Anna Fliegerová – violin, koto
Martin Adamovič – viola
Helena Velická – cello
Veronika Létalová – double bass
Kateřina Vávrová – flutes
Markéta Tichá – oboe
Irvin Venyš – clarinet
Michal Kostiuk – clarinets, saxophone
Ondřej Šindelář – bassoon
Jakub Koutník – horn
Jan Pohořalý – trumpet
Jan Nosek – trombone
Jan Mikušek – cimbalom, keyboard instruments, countertenor
Jana Bezpalcová – accordion, keyboard instruments
Tomáš Reindl – percussion, didgeridoo
Šimon Veselý – percussion

Peter Vrábel – conductor, bass guitar


Designing sound for Schwarz auf Weiss was probably the most complicated thing I have ever worked on. There were 18 musicians moving around the hall and among audience who all needed amplification. I used wireless soundsystem with high quality microphones. Furthermore it was needed to dynamically change sound panoramas of all instruments at once that you cannot possible manage with less than 10 hands. I used digital mixing board and programmed all changes into a set of scenes including changes in sound effects. I worked live on the rest (volume, EQ, dynamics) to follow delicate differences and specifics of each performance.

To achieve natural sound, each instrument needed to be heard from its real place / direction. I used therefore 6-channel space amplification system (ten loudspeakers around the audience) that can produce this type of sound effect. This system is also able to simulate various acoustics – e.g. a church with long echo / reverb.

While mentioning acoustics – it was extremely difficult in that particular space. Fortunately, most of the problems with unwanted rebounds were solved by our set designer and his back wall made of cardboard boxes.

Badminton bats’ amplification added frosting to this cake. I fixed on them piezzo transmitters connected to the wireless system. With the help of the computer I changed their signal into MIDI notes that activated prerecorded sounds of percussions.

It was a great adventure.

I am wrapping up with a short list of used equipment:
loudspeakers: L'Acoustics dvDosc, dvSub, 115HiQ, 8xt
mixing board: Digidesign D-Show Profile
22 channels of Sennheiser wireless soundsystem with DPA microphones
loads of other microphones to amplify static instruments (koto, marimba, vibraphone etc.)
playback from ProTools and NI Kontakt

Petr Kaláb – sound designer



A production of such a specific and unique work as Schwarz auf Weiss by Goebbels requires maximum effort from the whole artistic and organizational team. Work on preparation of the presentation led to many interesting experiences.


Where to find a specimen of the traditional Japanese instrument called the koto in Prague? Why, in the Czech-Japanese Association, of course! But it’s not so simple. After all, this is an instrument that must not come into untrained hands. Thus a condition was to have a ‘certified’ koto player, i.e. someone who knows how to play the instrument. Naturally we had no such person among our musicians. It looked as though we were up a blind alley. But somebody up above must be on our side. Courses in playing the shakuhachi and koto were given during the summer in Prague, and so we sent our violinist Anna to participate. She turned out to be extremely talented, so on Saturday she had her first lesson and on Tuesday her first concert! And in the end she received a koto on long-term loan directly from Professor Haruko Watanabe of Japan.


A person coming to a rehearsal of the Berg Orchestra before the summer break might have felt like Alice in Wonderland. The musicians held in their hands the most varied and peculiar brass instruments – from an enormous tubaphone through trombones and trumpets to helicons – and produced on them some more-or-less articulated sounds. The result suggested noises from the elephants’ pavilion in a zoo. But each of the players also showed enormous enthusiasm and curiosity. Their task was to learn to play their instruments during the summer break at least well enough to make particular tones come out of them. If you think that’s not easy, you’re right. But on the other hand, it’s a wonderful adventure.


The zither was a very popular instrument about a century ago, but has now almost disappeared. Nevertheless it turned out there are hundreds of them in used goods stores. Without knowing this, we contacted the president of the Czech Zither Association. At the end of a long telephone conversation about zithers, the manager of the orchestra found out that the president of the association is a relative of hers!


Conductor Peter Vrábel had the feeling that he didn’t have enough to do during the course of the performance, so he decided to prolong his stay on the stage. And he pursued the idea with his characteristic inventiveness. In the score he discovered the possibility of playing some passages on bass guitar. He himself immediately procured an instrument, accessories, and a bass guitar method book, and began to practice regularly. Then he found out that the stage director Martin Kukučka had a rare five-string bass guitar in some corner at home, left over from his adolescence, and immediately commandeered it. Today Vrábel is thinking half-seriously about founding a band.


PA: Main stereo according to the space (200 people – 1xdVSub, sides: 2xdVDosc)
Frontfills needed for broad halls. Surround – 4 channels 2 speakers each (115HiQ on stands) around the audience – 4 behind + 2x2 on sides.

Monitors: 8x L'Acoustisc 8XTi (12XTi), 6 lines

FOH: Mix Digidesign D-Show profile with Fwx card, CD player

14xDPA 4061, 1xDPA 4067, 1xK6 cardioid, 2xPiezzo pick-ups – wireless system, active anthene
4xDI box (BSS, Radial, KT)

Other: MIDI keyboard (5 octaves min.) + stand, long MIDI cabel min. 15M

Input: 1. Violin (DPA wl), 2. Violin2 (DPA wl), 3. Viola (DPA wl), 4. Cello (DPA wl), 5. Double bass (K6 wl), 6. Ebass (Dibox, jack cabel), 7. Flute (DPA4067 wl), 8. Clarinet (DPA wl), 9. Sax/Bcl (DPA wl), 10. Horn (DPA wl), 11. Trumpet (DPA wl), 12. Trombone (DPA wl), 13. Accordion (DPA wl), 14. Accordion (DPA wl), 15. Bass Drum (B91), 16. OH (c414), 17. PercusOH (c414), 18. Zither/Didjeridoo (c409), 19. Marimba (c451), 20. Marimba (c451), 21. Vibraphone (c451), 22. Vibraphone (c451), 23. Harpsichord (sm81), 24. Cimbalom (DPA wl), 25. Koto (sm81), 26. Badminton bat (Piezzo wl), 27. Badminton bat (Piezzo wl), 28. ComputerL (DI, jack cabel), 30. ComputerR (DI, jack cabel), 31. ComputerB (DI, jack cabel), 32. Voc (SM58), 33. BD2 (SM57), 34. CDL (CDR), 35. CompFOH L (FWx), 36. CompFOH R (FWx)


10x PAR 36 (pinspot) 10x PAR 64 CP 62 10x FRESNELL ARRI 1KW 8x PROFIL 2KW ZOOM 6x FLOOD 1KW (vana)

Dimmers: min. 48 channels 2KW, 8x Wieland 20M, 8x Stage box (6x230V), 60x cabel 230V (5m, 10m, 15m, 20m, 25m), 20x adaptor, 1x DMX cabel 50m / or wireless DMX

Stands: 8x stand 5M, 4x T-ramp, 30x Floor stand

Board: LT Hydra (min.24 faders)

Filters: LEE 206 / 202 / 201 / 068

Direct power: 1x 64A / 380V


preferably a nontraditional hall with raked seating; concert hall or theatre are also possible (raked seating a must)