Mathis Nitschke is an artist who works between disciplines. He combines his studies of classical guitar, visual arts and music composition with theatre, film, opera and games.
As a film and theatre composer, he enjoys the trust of some of the most important artists, writers and directors of our time. At the same time, he develops his very own approach to music theatre, digitality and art in public space in self-produced works that are supported by public and private institutions.
His very diverse work has been presented in opera houses such as the National Opera Montpellier or the Park Avenue Armory New York, in galleries such as the Storage by Hyundai Card Seoul or Bunker Sztuki Krakow, cinemas and festivals such as the DOK.fest Munich or the Locarno Film Festival, and theatres such as the Münchner Kammerspiele or the Schauspiel Köln. In his own productions as a composing director, he likes to look for hidden or public places, which he transforms – just as they are – into theatre stages.
In 2015, Mathis Nitschke founded Sofilab, a Munich-based sonic design studio and innovation lab working at the crossroads of art, industry and technology.
EDUCATION AND ARTISTIC RESEARCH
After he started out playing the guitar and performing the sound mixing desk, Mathis Nitschke studied visual arts before he finally made his degree in music composition at the Royal Conservatoire Den Haag with Gilius van Bergeijk, Richard Ayres and Clarence Barlow.
Lectures and seminars with, among others, Heiner Goebbels, DJ Spooky, Jean-Luc Nancy, Michel Houellebecq, Mike Figgis, Peter Greenaway and The Brothers Quay during his post-graduate study at the European Graduate School (EGS), Saas-Fee, flanked his education.
Between 2010 and 2017, the nature of opera was Nitschke’s main subject of research, initiated by the commission to compose “JETZT” for the Montpellier National Opera. Great scepticism towards classical singing and the institution of opera led to an extremely fruitful period of research and creation, which culminated in the mixed-reality opera “MAYA” in 2017.
The soundwalk opera “Vergehen” (2016) opened the door to interactive digital art, which has been another focus of his artistic research ever since. Questions about the artistically optimal human/machine communication and the balancing of the highest sonic demands with the possibilities of common smartphones led to the development of innovative interaction methods that allow a new and at the same time profound musical experience. An outstanding example of this is the interactive 3D audio soundwalk “The Planets“, a co-operation with the Munich Philharmonic.
In Mathis Nitschkes works as a theatre maker the spectator not only watches, he is also being watched and takes part in the theatrical situation. In the music theatre trilogy in public space VIOLA / KATHARINA / ISOLDE (2015/16/19) the audience sits in shop windows and looks on the happenings on the square in front of it. At the same time the audience members themselves are exposed in the shop window and pedestrians look at them.
Integrating smartphones and headphones as an integral part of todays public life, Nitschke created an interactive audio tour for promenaders at the Munich river Isar: VERGEHEN (“Passing”, 2017), an opera which one has to walk. It lets the real world interact sonically with the virtual world. In the “Deutsche Bühne” yearbook of 2017, VERGEHEN was nominated in the best stage/space/costume categorie.
In October 2017, MAYA had its premiere: a Mixed-Reality-Techno-Opera in which central questions of post-humanity have been discussed. In the ruins of the heating plant Aubing Nitschke created a virtual cosmos parallel to the real world, on the basis of sound, music, augmented reality technology and digital art, in which the audience could move freely.
It all began with the operas JETZT and HAPPY HAPPY (2012 and 2014), commissioned by the Montpellier National Opera, which resulted from his long-standing friendship and collaboration with lighting designer and director Urs Schönebaum. JETZT earned a nomination for ‘premier of the year’ in the Opernwelt yearbook 2013.
His involvement as a sound designer and composer in the team of director Claus Guth opens a new chapter, in which he tries to bring his experience from independent experimental music theatre creation into the world of established opera high culture. Following the success of the world premiere of “Doppelganger” at the Armory Hall in New York in September 2023, another collaboration will follow in July 2024 for the opening of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.
His music is often a result of combined improvisational practise. He maintains special working relationships with singers Martina Koppelstetter, Sarah Aristidou and Karen Vourc’h and musicians Santiago Cimadevilla, Anja Lechner, Goska Isphording, Mathis Mayr, Brice Soniano and Klaus-Peter Werani, among others.
FILM, DRAMA AND GAMES
In 2008, Mathis collaborated with the French author Michel Houellebecq for his movie adaptation ‘The Possibility of an Island’. In 2017, Nitschke composed and produced the music for Martin Farkas’ documentary film “Demmin”, and in 2019 for Christoph Boekel’s documentary film “The maelstrom of war – a family history”.
He regularly works in the most important german-speaking theatres like, among others, Münchner Kammerspiele, Thalia Theater Hamburg, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Burg-/Akademietheater Vienna or Schauspiel Köln with directors like Luk Perceval, Andreas Kriegenburg, Christof Loy, Thomas Jonigk, Ulrike Arnold, Karin Henkel, Christiane Pohle and others. Nitschke has a special interest in working with authors, notably Jonas Lüscher, Thomas Jonigk, Michel Houellebecq and Ulrike Draesner.
In 2015, Mathis Nitschke founded Sofilab, a Munich-based sonic design studio and innovation lab working at the crossroads of art, industry and technology. Sofilab initiates projects and starts research on the topics of digital music practice, media and sound art, interactive communication, industrial sound design and audio-guided appliances.
AND BEYOND THAT
As a live sound designer, Nitschke performs the mixing desk not only in theatres but also at contemporary music performances in concert halls, such as the Musica Viva series of the Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestra. On occasion, in Solo and Ensemble projects, he performs as an improvising sound artist. He is a permanent member of the ensemble for contemporary music der/gelbe/klang.
Drawing from early experience gained in commercial advertising production (Hastings Audio, Giesing Team) and a succesful career in film post production (Resident Evil, Luther) Nitschke also offers his services to corporations and live-communication agencies, resulting in image films (e.g. for BMW), Sound-ID’s (e.g. Airbus Group) or concert inserts and musical highlights (e.g. Linde Management conference, BMW Excellence in Sales).
He teaches and holds seminars and workshops at various German and Austrian conservatories (e.g. Musikkhochschule Trossingen, HdpK Berlin, Fachhochschule St. Pölten).
For Celemony Software GmbH he works as the product manager for Capstan, a software for sound restoration which is able to correct wow and flutter purely digitally. He also counsels the company in their new product developments.