Joseph Kohlmaier performing with Musarc at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 2019. Photo: Yiannis Katsaris
Joseph Kohlmaier is the founding director of Musarc and acts as its artistic director. He is a Senior Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies at the School of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University. He is the founding director of publishing imprint Cours de Poétique and one of the founding directors of graphic design practice Polimekanos (2001–2020).
As a producer, curator and artistic director of Musarc, Joseph has conceived and realised many performances, collaborations, commissions and artists’ projects since the choir’s foundation in 2008. The choir has performed at Cafe OTO, Bold Tendencies, Turner Contemporary, V22 and the Royal Maritime Museum. In 2012, Musarc presented Bang! Being the Building at the Barbican’s OMA/Progess show, and its voices could be heard in Ed Atkin’s Us Dead Talk Love at the Chisenhale Gallery. In 2013, Musarc presented again again with Melanie Pappenheim at Milton Keynes Gallery in response to an exhibition of Peter Dreher’s work. The ensemble returned to MK Gallery for their show How to construct a time machine where it performed a choral version of Terry Riley’s In C and a new work by Neil Luck, and more recently on the occasion of MK Gallery’s contribution to MK CityFest and the International New Towns Institute (INTI) Conference/Academy of Urbanism (AoU) Symposium (June 2017). Musarc’s voices could be heard at the New Museum, New York, in Laure Prouvost's How to make money religiously (2014). Ed Atkins invited the ensemble back to perform at Synonyms: Five or six noise-making rifts, a Park Night at the Serpentine Gallery on the occasion of his solo-show in July 2014. In 2015, Musarc took part in a performance of Peter Liversidge’s Notes on protesting, and performed Sam Belinfante’s Corpus Sonus for voices and dictaphones, both at the Whitechapel Gallery. In 2016, Musarc performed at Wysing Poliphonic and at the Museum of London.
The choir has collaborated with experimental music label Entr’acte, with whom it produced an album of Musarc’s commissions from Neil Luck performed at Extra City, Antwerp, in October 2015. Musarc has worked many artists and composers including Anton Lukoszevieze, Sarah Kate Wilson, Ben Hadley, Benedict Drew, Esther Venrooij, Neil Luck, Marc Behrens, Claudia Molitor, TONGUE, and Sam Belinfante. In 2017, Musarc presented a series of performances at Do D!sturb, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, for which Joseph conceived a gigantic semi-circular mirror. Later that year, Joseph worked with Allora & Calzadilla, David Lang and Donald Nally on a live performance score for Mains Hum at Lisson Gallery.
Between 2018 and 2019, Joseph produced four major projects and performances with the choir – Odrathek (2018); See, We Assemble (2018) at London Contermporary Music Festival; GESTALT MINIMAL + Tape Music at STUK (2019, Leuwen) and Le Marteau Sans Maître (2019) at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, collectively commissioning and brining together new works by more than 30 artists and composers.
Currently, Joseph is working on The End of the World Service, a major commission and residency with the choir in Taranto, Italy, which will culminate in three days of performances and broadcasts 27–30 May 2022, as well as the publication of a libretto written with the ensemble. Other forthcoming projects include a recrording and broadcast project for ResonanceExtra with conductor/composer Jack Sheen (UK), featuring four recent works by Sheen, Olivia Block (US), Andy Hamilton (IRE) and Cassandra Miller (UK); the production of an oratorio in the UK’s first concrete building with artist John Lawrence; and a concert with Peter Broderick at South Bank Centre on 1 October 2022, performing the Beacon Sound Choir‘s repertoire.