Since 1987 Christian Kesten interprets New Vocal Music and New Musictheatre, as soloist or as a member of the ensemble "Die Maulwerker" ["Mouth/Muzzle Workers / Loudmouths"].
He has performed in Tokyo, Moscow, Israel, Czec Republic, Slowakia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Glasgow, New York, Rio de Janeiro.
Breath music, country, falsetto, larynx sounds, Lied, opera, overtone singing, pop, song, tongue sounds, yodeling, the sounds of maybe nine different languages, plus miscellaneous gibberish: he is known as a specialist for vocal experiments; for steps between borders, in the soundscapes between music and language, music and theatre, for experiments with music in space, with sounds listening to silence.
Kesten developed a repertoire of extended vocal techniques, which focus on noise and subtle nuances of sound colours. His vocal practice is rather abstract an "non-psychological". The sounds have space to be perceived in their specifics.
He was influenced through the work with open, conceptual scores of the experimental tradition, which want the interpreter to be a co-composer. The awareness for silence and the interpenetration of sounds lead to a physical presence of his performing and the sense of space.
In a long collaboration with Dieter Schnebel, he did most of the first performances of Schnebel's musictheatrical works. He is known as an important Cage- and Fluxus-performer (collaborations with Emmett Williams (1999-2007) and Alison Knowles (2008)). He has worked with composers such as Alessandro Bosetti, Lucio Capece, Jacques Demierre, Axel Doerner, Juerg Frey, Suguru Goto, Michael Hirsch, Aleks Kolkowski, Radu Malfatti, Chico Mello, Andrea Neumann, Makiko Nishikaze, Georg Nussbaumer, Nicola Sani, Iris ter Schiphorst, Hans Wüthrich a.m.o.; with directors Achim Freyer, Jörg Jannings, Christina Tappe, Matthias Wittekindt, Marcel Schwierin a.o.; with Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Ensemble Modern, Apartment House London, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Mosaik Berlin, Ensemble Musica Negativa, Collegium Novum Zürich; many studio and radio productions with sound artists and audioplay directors.
He was speaker in Dieter Schnebel's opera Majakowskis Tod, Opera Leipzig 1998; sang the Dottore Klein in Giovanni Damiani's opera Salve follie precise, Palermo 1998; spoke Stravinskij's Histoire du soldat in the concert version for one speaker with Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin 1997, with soloists of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra 1998, with Ensemble Modern 2003.
Makiko Nishikaze wrote Chant I, II, III (1998/99) and Monte Sancto (Psalm 15) (2005) for him. He also premiered Nishikaze's Oratorio for 5 vocalists (Maulwerker) (2000/2002) and Angel, the messenger for 3 vocalists and 4 instruments (2009).
He sang and played at Theater Bielefeld 2001 in the complete version of John Cage's Song Books, which he co-directed.
In 2004 he was solo performer and vocalist in Iris ter Schiphorst's "Erlaube, Fremdling, dass ich dich beruehre..." at Festspielhaus Dresden-Hellerau, in 2006 in Erlaube Fremdling dass ich dich berühre II at Kulturbrauerei Berlin and Schauspielhaus Chemnitz.
In 2004 he was vocalist in Alessandro Bosetti's The Mouth with Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin.
In 2005 he sang the role of Brian in Destino das Oito - Fate at Eight - Schicksal um acht, a 'telebossa' by Chico Mello (composition) and Christina Tappe (stage direction), with Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, as part of the festival MaerzMusik/Berliner Festspiele at Hebbel-Theater HAU1, Berlin. [scroll down vor videos]
In October 2007 he recorded the 22 sound poems SOS by Swiss composer Jacques Demierre, which has been released in May 2009 by Editions Héro-Limite, on the occasion of the live presentation at festival Les Amplitudes at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
In 2009 he was vocalist and performer in BLANC by Jacques Demierre, Isabelle Duthoit and Alexandre Simon, performed at Super Deluxe Tokyo and Théâtre du Grütli Geneva.
Also in 2009 he was vocalist in Axel Doerner's quintet perkfra, performer in Andrea Neumann's Variations, Lucio Capece's Thales, and vocalist in his own quintet o.T. (noch ein feld) [untitled (another field)].
Kesten presented the works of Dieter Schnebel along his North America solo tour at Gallery 345 in Toronto and Goethe Institute Montreal. In Summer 2008 the MAULWERKER ensemble showed a program with Schnebel pieces. In April 2009 the music conservatory Vienna, Austria invited him to play in a Schnebel portrait at 3raum Anatomietheater. In October 2009 Kesten presented in Berlin a version of Schnebel's Visible Music for 1 conductor (Kesten) and 2 instrumentalists (Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin) - authorized by the composer - at the gallery circuit "Galerienrundgang" of the kulturradio/RBB radio station.
In January 2010 the MAULWERKER group play the opening concert of the Berlin Ultraschall festival: the premiere of Schnebel's Kafka-Dramolettes with Kesten as soloist, and glossolalie 61, with Kesten as conductor.
In 2010, Kesten performed as vocalist in Klaus Schedl's TILT!, directed by Michael Scheidl, and Ludger Bruemmer's In Erwartung der Tauglichkeit einer rationalen Methode zur Lösung des Klimaproblems under the artistic direction of Peter Weibel (ZKM). Both operas were parts of the project AMAZONAS – Music theatre in three parts, premiered at the Munich Biennale, with performances at SESC Pompeia in Sao Paulo and at Operadagen Rotterdam. In 2013, TILT! was performed at Out Of Control Festival in Vienna.
In 2012, Maulwerker ensemble had an artistic encounter with New York ensemble Ne(x)tworks when opening the Berlin Festival MaerzMusik with John Cage's Song Books with Concert for Piano and Orchestra under the artistic direction of Joan La Barbara. (Christian performed Solos for Voice No. 29, 65, 76, and 88.)
Destino das Oito 1st part (08:00)
Destino das Oito 2nd part (09:17)
Destino das Oito 3rd part (08:48)
Destino das Oito 4th part (09:56)