My Favourite Piece is the Goldberg Variations
My Favourite Piece is the Goldberg Variations is based on interviews with Susanne Borregaard (mother of accordionist Andreas Borregaard) conducted during the summer lockdown of 2020.
Andreas approached me about writing a piece involving extended performativity beyond simply playing the accordion. I was drawn to the idea of the accordionist as storyteller, almost in the troubadour sense. We met with writer Ted Huffman in Berlin to speak about Andreas’ own life and work, which in turn led to interviews with his mother over Skype.
My work with Ted often uses verbatim text and this piece continues our exploration of queer histories. From this interview material, we formed twelve snapshots of a life over seven decades.
The piece is dedicated to Susanne Borregaard with great appreciation for her contribution.
In Philip Venables and Ted Huffman’s My Favourite Piece is the Goldberg Variations, Borregaard tells his mother’s life story, while faded home videos flicker in the background and his dramatic accordion playing at the same time counteracts and supports the narrative. It is the accordion that makes a banality like “I felt better with him around / he was always holding my hand” sound like a hard-earned life experience, and which highlights the crushing melancholy in the children’s song “The mountain in the forest”. With few, well-chosen means, Borregaard conveys in the most beautiful way a tale of love and loss, of duality and loneliness. It is an exquisite sensitization of everyday life. — Seismograf.org (translated from Danish)
My Favourite Piece is the Goldberg Variations was commissioned and first performed by Andreas Borregaard, with support from the Norwegian Academy of Music. The first ‘performance’ was at Borealis Festival 2021, and, owing to Covid-19 restrictions, took the form of a music video made by Pierre Martin using found footage, Andreas’ family footage, and footage of him performing the piece.
Duration: 23 minutes
Set-up: Solo accordion who also speaks and sings. Amplification of the accordion and the voice is usually required.