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Man Music Machine
2023 Oktober / November 2021 17. -21. May


realtime – international festival for new music bremen

Eyes & ears captured in many ways
Classical music in our time is perhaps a bit “crazy”, but it’s certainly interesting and exciting. And in a little under four days, realtime – international festival for new music bremen, reached 800 people of all ages with its highly diverse program: stage performances, pop-up concerts out of doors, rounds of talks, film screenings, instrument workshops and a fairy tale in music for children. ‘It’s great to see how many people we have been able to interest in new music in very different ways with realtime – our “concept of diversity” has worked out,’ says Claudia Janet Birkholz, artistic director and co-initiator of the festival. The inspiration and emotional power of new music was also evident in the music films entered in the international music video competition and in the insightful lectures by film greats such as Jan Harlan and Henning Lohner, who traveled to Bremen for the festival.

The next festival is already planned for May 17-21, 2023, in cooperation with the guest country, France. The new music on that occasion will focus on the theme of ‘man – music – machine’. In 2022 as part of the run-up to the festival, an international competition for innovative performance concepts will be held. Once again the Köster Prize, at €30,000 the most highly-endowed prize in the new music genre, will be awarded for the best interdisciplinary performance idea for contemporary music. So, all who are interested can already start looking forward to new and unforgettable moments at the Realtime Festival 2023…
You can find out more about the call for entries here.

Using exciting and special concert formats, multimedia presentations and lectures paired with excellent entertainment, the festival aims to present the diversity of contemporary classical music to a wide audience.

Opening up horizons, breaking out of old shackles, stimulating, arousing, and taking your breath away – our artists will celebrate all this with you, our audience at the Realtime Festival. The Hanseatic city will glitter and resound to thrilling light shows, performances, concerts & poetry, pop-up concerts in the city center and beguiling music videos.

Be transported by sounds never heard before and by images in worlds!

Dagna Sadkowska, Mayor Dr. Andreas Bovenschulter,
Dr. Gerhard Köster, Claudia Janet Birkholz


Friday, 22.10.2021 – Metropol Theater Bremen

Opening I: Luzifers (T)Raum

Work by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007): Piano Piece XII ‘Lucifer’s Dream’ (1981). Claudia Janet Birkholz (piano) and Katrin Bethge (lighting & projection art)

Claudia Janet Birkholz, born in Bremen, is an interpreter of 20th and 21st-century piano music, highly in demand in Germany and abroad. She studied piano at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen with Kurt Seibert and has lectured there in piano and contemporary music since 1993. Delight in experimentation, a high intellectual demand and the aim of sensitizing the audience to unusual acoustic events make her concerts a special experience. She has performed at the Bregenz Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Gaudeamus Musiekweek, Wien modern, the Berliner Festwochen, the Ultraschall Festival and the Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik, among others, and has recently devoted herself particularly to the development of new concert formats in collaboration with neuroscientists, psychologists, AI researchers and mathematicians.

She is a producer of multiple award-winning music videos together with renowned filmmaker Christine Jezior and the initiator of the ‘Realtime-Forum Neue Musik’ association, as well as artistic director of the Realtime Festival for New Music, Bremen.

Katrin Bethge is a freelance illustrator and projection artist. After training as a theatre painter at the Hamburg State Opera and studying illustration at HAW Hamburg, in 1999 she began staging virtual spaces in light and projection. Since then her overhead projections have accompanied projects in the fields of dance, theatre, music, photography, exhibitions and events in urban space. She has performed at numerous festivals and in productions and theaters including the Kampnagel Hamburg, the Theaterhaus Zurich, the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Mikro Makro Festival in Poland and the Gare du Nord Basel.

Since 2001 Katrin Bethge has lectured in drawing, color and form at the JAK Akademie Hamburg.

Claudia Janet Birkholz

Friday, 22.10.2021 – Metropol Theater Bremen

Opening II: Inside Poland

Works by Piotr Peszat, Piotr Jędrzejczyk, Wojciech Błażejczyk performed by the Kwartludium ensemble.


Dagna Sadkowska, violin
Michał Górczyński, clarinet/bass clarinet
Paweł Nowicki, percussion
Piotr Nowicki, piano
Ralf Besser, moderator


Piotr Peszat (*1990): Real Life Proof (2018)
for violin, clarinet, bass clarinet, vibraphone, piano, electronics
and video projection

Piotr Jędrzejczyk (*1993): Quartiude (2020)
for violin, clarinet, percussion and piano

Wojciech Błażejczyk (*1981): General Theory of Relativity (2018)
for violin, clarinet, piano, percussion and electronics

The Kwartludium ensemble from Poland is known there for experimental and unusual concerts. This evening it will perform contemporary works by Polish composers with video projections and electronics.

Ralf Besser, a facilitator and moderator, will host the event, with surprising “aha” experiences for the audience.

The Polish four-member ensemble was set up in 2002 and is formed of graduates of the music academies of Warsaw, Bydgoszcz and Gdansk. Since then the four musicians have played works by young composers from Poland and abroad, including may premieres and concerts at renowned festivals around the world, including Warsaw Autumn, Unsound in New York, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Daegu International Contemporary Music Festival, Ensemble Europa in Cologne, Loop Festival in Brussels, Musica Viva in Lisbon, Contrasts International Contemporary Music Festival, L’viv, Arena Festival, Riga and many more. In addition to contemporary music, improvisation also plays an important role. Kwartludium’s artistic work includes recordings for record labels such as Dux, Requiem Records and Touch an also for Polish radio, TVP Kultura, Polmic, WDR 3 and Deutschlandfunk.

Ensemble Kwartludium

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Mercedes Customer Center – Concert Hall

“Symphony & Voice” by Carola Bauckholt, Agata Zubel and Cezary Duchnowski performed by

Agata Zubel and Cezary Duchnowski directed by Marc Niemann.

A special highlight of this festival is the internationally acclaimed voice acrobat and star composer Agata Zubel. Together with the Realtime ensemble under the direction of GMD Marc Niemann.

Agata Zubel

Agata Zubel

Agata Zubel, Marc Niemann

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Mercedes Customer Center – Concert Hall

Night concert with Andi Otto and his Fello

Hamburg musician Andi Otto gives an extraordinary sound performance with his ‘Fello’, a cello with a multi-sensory bow. Through the movement of his arms and the pressure of his fingers, he combines the classic way of playing with electroacoustic sounds.


Carola Bauckholt (*1959): Treibstoff [Propellant] (1995) for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano and percussion

Agata Zubel (*1978): Chapter 13 (2015) for soprano and instrumental ensemble

Cezary Duchnowski (*1971): Monada 3 (2018) for female voice, piano and computer

Agata Zubel: Not I (2014) for voice, instrumental ensemble and electronics


Agata Zubel (soprano)

Cezary Duchnowski (electronics)

As a Polish composer and singer, Agata Zubel is known for her unique vocal range and techniques that challenge stereotypes. She studied composition with Jan Wichrowski and singing with Danuta Paziuk-Zipser at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music and received her doctorate in music in 2004. Since then she has worked at the Academy as a lecturer.

New music in particular occupies an important place in her repertoire. She has worked with well-known ensembles such as Klangforum Wien, Ensemble intercontemporain, Ensemble musikfabrik, the London Sinfonietta, Ictus Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Seattle Chamber Players, Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Neue Vocalsolisten, Remix Ensemble and many more. She has performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Musikgebouw in Amsterdam, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the philharmonic societies of Berlin and Cologne, Luxembourg, Moscow, Essen, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Casa da Musica in Porto and the Seattle Symphony.

Cezary Duchnowski is a composer, pianist, performer and lecturer. He was born in 1971 in Elbląg and studied composition in the class of Leszek Wisłocki at the Academy of Music in Wrocław, where he also teaches today.

Marc Niemann studied piano and conducting in Hanover, Lübeck and Berlin and then followed the traditional Kapellmeister path with periods in Lübeck, Eutin, Braunschweig, Pforzheim and elsewhere. He was awarded scholarships by the Oscar and Vera Ritter Foundation, the Richard Wagner Foundation and the Max Grünebaum Foundation. As a guest conductor he has been on the podium of numerous orchestras and has conducted at festivals, including the Staatskapelle Halle, the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Bielefeld Philharmonic, the Rheinische Philharmonie Koblenz, the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, the Staatskapelle Schwerin, the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg and the Beethovenfest Bonn.

Since the 2014/2015 season he has been general music director of the Stadttheater Bremerhaven and chief conductor of the Bremerhaven Philharmonic Orchestra. In the critics’ survey held by ‘Opernwelt’ magazine, Marc Niemann was nominated Conductor of the Year in 2018.

The Realtime ensemble was founded on the occasion of the ‘realtime international festival for new music bremen 2021’ and is composed of musicians – for the first time – from the Bremen and Bremerhaven Philharmonics who are committed to the interpretation of new music and work on it with passion.

Andi Otto studied musicology and linguistics and graduated in 2008 with a Master’s degree in applied cultural studies at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the STEIM SensorLab, an experimental music interface? from the 80s. Today Otto is a composer and performer of electronic music. At the center of his work is the ‘Fello’, an electronic extension of the cello bow with motion sensors that he developed himself. Concerts take him all over the world. He is a member of the Flinn Works theatre collective in Berlin, runs the vinyl label Pingipung and composes for theatre, film and dance productions.

Since 2004 he has released seven solo albums, including on the Multi Culti, Shika Shika and Pingipung labels. Before 2015 he used the pseudonym ‘Springintgut’ for his publications.

In addition to his concert activities, he teaches media theory and gives workshops at the HKB in Bern and the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Andi Otto

 Andi Otto, Dr. Gerhard Köster, Claudia Janet Birkholz

Gala award ceremony

Friday, October 23, 2021 – Metropol Theater Bremen

Grand Gala & ‘Köster Prize’ for the international music video competition winner

The highlight of the festival will be the awarding ceremony of the €30,000 Köster Prize, plus live music and film art from over 250 music and video submissions from all over the world. Film-makers and musicians give insights into their work…

Bremer Schlagzeugensemble

Dr. Gerhard Köster, Masteuz Pastwesla

Claudia Janet Birkholz, Dr. Gerhard Köster, Christine Jezior


Lecture II ‘Film art’ with Jan Harlan, film producer

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – City46 – Kommunalkino Bremen

Lecture II ‘Film art’ with Jan Harlan, film producer

Jan Harlan has worked with Stanley Kubrick since 1969 and created famous films with him including ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘Barry Lyndon’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’. As a guest lecturer he is in demand at film schools and competitions worldwide. In his Bremen lecture for the realtime festival, he will talk about the challenges that a composer for film music faces. Harlan focuses here on the aspect of composing and arranging and on fruitful collaboration between composer and director. The lecture includes numerous examples. It will take place in English.

Jan Harlan

Claudia Janet Birkholz, Jan Harlan

Lecture III ‘Film Art’ with Henning Lohner

Henning Lohner is one of Germany’s most renowned film composers. He studied with Iannis Xenakis and has worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and Hans Zimmer, as well as writing the music for numerous international films including ‘Gladiator’, ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Devil and Ms. D’ (‘Der große Bagarozy’).
In 2012, Lohner also received the honor of recomposing the theme tune of the popular German TV news program ‘Tagesschau’. Since 2004 he has been a visiting professor at Zurich University of the Arts. In his Bremen lecture he discusses the work of a film composer.

Henning Lohner, born in Bremen in 1961, grew up in California. He studied at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, then in 1987 graduated with a master’s degree in musicology, art history and Romance studies at the University of Frankfurt am Main. From 1985 he took composition lessons with Iannis Xenakis. From 1984 to 1989 Lohner was an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and supervised the stage production of his opera ‘Montag aus Licht’ (‘Monday from Light’) at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan in 1988.
He has worked with international musicians such as Frank Zappa, Steve Reich and Hans Zimmer, written music for many German and international films, including ‘Laura’s Star’, ‘Incident at Loch Ness’ and ‘The Ring 2’, and has received multiple awards for his work. In 2012 he was commissioned to compose a new sound image for the TV news program ‘Tagesschau’.
Lohner’s work also includes internationally exhibited media art projects as well as his activities as a director, screenwriter, and producer of various documentary films.
He gives guest lectures in Germany and abroad and has taught as a visiting professor at Zurich University of the Arts since 2004.

Dr. Gerhard Köster, Claudia Janet Brikholz, Henning Lohner

Henning Lohner

Andi Otto

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Hochschule für Künste

Lecture I – ‘How does it Fello’ with Andi Otto
Musician Andi Otto has developed an instrument that creates an extraordinary sound performance.

OpenSpace events/TalkTimes

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Pop-up concerts in public spaces around Bremen

‘I’m Always Chasing Rainbows (Chopin can love whoever he wants)’
with the Bremen choral workshop Da Capo al Dente and the Ensemble New Babylon.

Concept, direction and reading: Levin Handschuh
Music: Frédéric Chopin, Harry Carroll
Text: Frédéric Chopin, Joseph McCarthy
Musical production: Max Börner, Washington de Oliveira and Sonja Gebert

Levin Handschuh, Bremer Chorwerkstatt

Da Capo al Dente sowie dem Ensemble New Babylon

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Markthalle 8

TalkTime on the theme ‘Contemporary music – what’s the point?’, with a music video and guests Christoph Louven of the University of Osnabrück and Claudia J. Birkholz, pianist and artistic director of the realtime festival, Michal Talma-Sutt, composition, and Berthold Gantner, video

New music is diverse. New music is exciting. New music is difficult. There are many opinions and views about new music. Over the last 100 years a completely new kind of music has emerged.Instruments are played in new and unusual ways. Rhythm, tonality, sound spectra: there is much that sounds new and unfamiliar. Musicologist and professor Christoph Louven of the University of Osnabrück, composer Michal Talma–Sutt, video artist Berthold Gantner and the director of the realtime festival, Claudia Janet Birkholz, talked about why the new music is so exciting for the musicians and how listeners feel.

Realtime music game« A new music game, developed and moderated by Ralf Besser

Children’s and young people’s events

Saturday, November 06, 2021 – Markthalle 8

‘Splash’: something sparkling from Bremen youth ensemble Smusic 21

Smusic21, the Jugendensemble Neue Musik, was founded in 2014 under the umbrella of the ‘Realtime – Forum Neue Musik’ association. Its aim is to make contemporary classical music better known to the younger generation. Under the direction of musician David Gutfleisch, the young people meet in regular rehearsals and additional workshops and thereby get to know the new music in a playful and immediate way.
The rehearsal rooms and instruments are provided by the Musikschule Bremen. Free lessons are made possible by the realtime association and the sponsors.

Sunday, November 7, 2021 – Überseemuseum

Children’s Concert: The Frog Princess with Christian Bergmann (speaker), Johannes Haase (violin),
Riccardo Castagnola (live electronics), Katrin Bethge (overhead projections) and Salome Althammer (direction)

In this children’s concert, actor Christian Bergmann tells the Polish fairy tale ‘The Frog Princess’. Violinist Johannes Haase creates worlds of sound with electronic accompaniment by Riccardo Castagnola. Overhead projections by Katrin Bethge give the story a unique visualization.

‘The Frog Princess’ is one of Poland’s traditional fairy tales. Oskar Kohlberg collected Polish fairy tales in the 18th century, similarly to the Grimm brothers in Germany, and published them together with folk songs, legends and customs in over thirty volumes.

This tale is now retold by Bremen author Anke Fischer. It tells of the youngest son of a king, who shoots an arrow from his bow in search of a bride, but the arrow leads him to a frog. Ridiculed by his brothers, he nevertheless proves himself in various adventures, often with the help of different animals, and in the end he becomes the happiest of all the brothers.

Salome Althammer was born in Heidelberg in 1988. From 2008 to 2013 she studied for a BA at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart with Emily Körner (Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra), Frank Reinecke (Vogler Quartet) and Anke Dill. Between 2012 and 2014 she was an academician with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, where she played under conductors including Jonathan Nott, Herbert Blomstedt and Christoph Eschenbach and undertook concert tours to Holland, Belgium, Japan and China. From 2014 she studied a master’s program in artistic education with Thomas Klug at the University of the Arts Bremen, graduating in summer 2016. She continues to play on an occasional basis with the Bamberg Symphony, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Staatstheater Oldenburg and the Camerata Hamburg and others. She is a co-founder and permanent member of the ‘ensemble reflektor’ chamber orchestra, which won the Max Brauer Prize of the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. foundation in 2019, and a member of the Radial Quartet.

Christian Bergmann was born in Aschaffenburg in 1970. He completed his acting training at the Theaterakademie der Spielstatt Ulm in 1996. From 2002 to 2010 he was an ensemble member of the bremen shakespeare company, taking part in performances such as William in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, Philip the Bastard in ‘King John’ and more. He is also active in film and radio and has received numerous prizes, including in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival for ‘Tore tanzt’, the short film award for ‘Who is Hu’ at the SHORTS 2013 in Offenburg, and in 2017 was winner of the 53rd Grimme Award in the fiction category for‘The White Rabbit’.

Katrin Bethge is a freelance illustrator and projection artist. After training as a theatre painter at the Hamburg State Opera and studying illustration at HAW Hamburg, in 1999 she began staging virtual spaces in light and projection. Since then her overhead projections have accompanied projects in the fields of dance, theatre, music, photography, exhibitions and events in urban space. She has performed at numerous festivals and in productions and theaters including the Kampnagel Hamburg, the Theaterhaus Zurich, the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Mikro Makro Festival in Poland and the Gare du Nord Basel. Since 2001 Katrin Bethge has lectured in drawing, color and form at the JAK Akademie Hamburg.

Riccardo Castagnola studied electronic music and composition at the Conservatorio G.B. Martini (Bologna, Italy) with Francesco Giomi and Lelio Camilleri and at the University of the Arts Bremen with Kilian Schwoon, Jörg Birkenkötter and Joachim Heinz. In 2015-16 he was a masters student in temporal media with Jean-François Guiton (HFK Bremen). Since 2018 he has taught sound design at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, Multimedia Performance at Bremen University of the Arts, and in cooperation with the Schlachthof Bremen gives workshops on electroacoustic techniques for live sound. In 2017 he was a finalist in the FRANZ LISZT Scholarship (acoustic composition), Weimar. He works with various institutions in the field of free improvisation and multimedia performance, such as the Ensemble New Babylon (Bremen), the Theater Bremen, the Weserburg Museum, Bremen and Tempo Reale (Florence).

Johannes Haase studied violin and free improvisation in Bremen and Basel with Fred Frith, Thomas Klug and Alfred Zimmerlin. Further studies led him to the Ensemble Modern, to Kala Ramnath in Mumbai and to Ellery Eskelin and Zack Brock in New York. He is a winner of the John Cage Prize of the John Cage Organ Foundation Halberstadt and has received the Klaus Huber Special Prize of the University of the Arts Bremen. He has initiated interdisciplinary projects with the audiovisual Haase Rössler Duo and with poets of the Corporation Cultural Amereida in Chile. In 2018 and 2019 he collaborated with the Goethe Institute in India and Chile. He also gave masterclasses and workshops on improvisation and advanced playing techniques at universities in South America, Europe and Asia. In 2018 he was a lecturer with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, and since 2019 he has taught improvisation at the Academy of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen.

Sunday, November 7, 2021 – Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst

Workshop for children and families with Gero Koenig and his electroacoustic chordeograph

Discoveries are the focus of these workshops. Anyone who has always dreamed of playing an instrument, but never had the opportunity to do so, will learn here to play one of the most innovative instruments within a very short time.

For several years, composer and performer Gero Koenig worked on developing an electroacoustic instrument, eventually coming up with the ‘chordeograph’. As well as its remarkable appearance, the chordeograph is fascinating for the way that it electronically responds to the body movements of the players and converts them into sounds. The players thus navigate the score by the movements of their arms and hands.

Gero Koenig lives and works as a composer, performer, instrument inventor and media artist in Cologne. He studied piano and composition at the Robert-Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf and with Clarence Barlow and Nic. A. Huber. Study trips beyond Europe broadened his understanding of the resonance between musicians, the surroundings, and the audience. Since 2002 he has produced compositions and staged concert performances with site-specific visual dramaturgy and spatial design, such as at the Klangraum Basilika St. Gereon, Cologne, SAFE AND SOUND, Belgrade, Audio Art, Krakow, ZKM, Karlsruhe, the S.T.R.E.A.M. Festival and SMC Hamburg.
From a deconstruction of the piano he developed the ‘chordeograph’ as an instrument and as a method for sound generation, as well as software for interactive, real-time control. In 2018 the chordeograph was exhibited as an interactive installation at the Open Codes exhibition at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM), Karlsruhe.

Gero König

Köster Prize 2021

The Köster Prize was awarded in 2021 for the first time for the best music film or the best music video to a piece of new music.

The jurors:

• Christine Jezior, film producer and director
• Andreas Hotz, General Music Director, Theater Osnabrück
• Piotr Sobicinsky, cameraman
• Hendrik Vestmann, General Music Director, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater

The Köster Prize 2021 of €30,000, donated by Dr. Gerd Köster, went to Masteuz Pastweska and Bart White for ‘The Struggle for Life’, made for the piece ‘Intrada e Danza’ by Stefan Lindemann and Ensemble New Babylon.

Carmen Büchner received an honorable mention for the music video ‘Corona’, made for the piece ‘Shapes & Sizes 2011’ by Regin Petersen.

The Young Talent Prize of €500, donated by Jacek Kapturek, went to Fabian Friese and Tim Redlich for ‘Breathing Trees’, made for the piece ‘Luft und Holz II’ by Ezzat Nashashibi.

The Audience Award of €1,000, donated by Küche & Feuer Bremen, went to Lena Grewenig for ‘Traumsequenz’, made for the piece ‘Imjae II’ Part 1 by Sunjoo Cho and the Bremer Schlagzeugensemble.

We also congratulate all who reached the final round:

Jingling Yu for ‘Digital nature’, made for the piece ‘Shapes & Sizes’ by Regin Petersen

Raoul Wilken for ‘Human Grime’, made for the piece ‘Shapes & Sizes’ by Regin Peterse

Pawel Kleszczewski and Kasia Zimnoch for ‘KönigGero Chordeograph_AR_workshop_excerpt’, made for the piece ‘Chordeograph_AR_workshop_excerpt’ by Gero Koenig

Nanja Heid for ‘Lindemann, Stefan – Intrade e Danza’, made for the piece ‘Intrada e Danza’ by Stefan Lindemann

Natalia Spychala for ‘Nashashibi, Ezzat: Air and Wood II’, made for the piece ‘Air and Wood II’ by Ezzat Nashashibi

Piotr Gromek and Wojciech Biały for ‘Prelude to hatred’, made for the piece ‘Something yellow- and a little bit green’ by Claudia Janet Birkholz

Klaudia Pawlikowska and Paweł Marek for ‘Shapes & Sizes’, made for the piece ‘Shapes & Sizes’ by Regin Petersen

Imke Meyer and Indra Zilm for ‘Imjae II’ Part 1, made for the piece ‘Imjae II’ Part 1 by Sunjoo Cho