X Iet, Ticino, Switzerland 2011

We are high above the earth – all around are massive snowy mountains.

            Iet is still. About twenty cottages, rarely occupied, all empty. Above our head fly eagles – and mornings and nights an animal rustles in the woods, carefully, staunchly. The neighbouring village is also deserted, wrapped around a leaning chapel – which is still standing thanks to prayers – and there’s a cowbell in the bell tower. The village is huddled together, it reminds me of a theatre set.

            To get to Iet one has to drive around a dead-ended valley – on the way up there is a dam with deep, calm, luring waters – and through a couple of villages full of blooming trees and an absence of people. Higher, at home, one realises – the whole valley is ours.

            Iet is perched opposite a wooded mountain, Muncrech, painting a panorama with another village, also lifeless – its houses loiter in the setting sun, the village has got eyes, lips and whiskers. Up to the left surge solitary summits, the three-thousanders of the San Bernardino; and down to the right, in the next, main valley, glitters the tiny town of Biasca, as from a grave. Its nightly lights are the only sign that people inhabit this planet.

 

It’s Easter. During the day I orchestrate act one outside, in the evening I set the computers and loudspeakers towards the mountains and listen at full volume to music: Richard Strauss, Bach, Ligeti. The ice patches opposite reflect the music, the snows has only started to melt. The plucks of the lute fall to the valley like waterdrops, the sun wheels slowly over the mountains, the brasses race through the cavities of Muncrech and return full speed. Higher hang the streams of waterfalls.

 

I am working the whole time, managing to go down to the valley only once, to look for something for the computer. The IT-specialist behind his hundreds of monitors speaks no English, only a very little bit of German.

 

At night there is no electricity – candle light, the smell of straw, the computer plays quietly in the corner. Easter food. Early mornings, before the sleep of people fades, the mountains wake like an orchestra, in one monumental endlessly held chord.

            I throw most of the written material away and return anew to the harmony queues.

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