Interview with Oscar Bianchi, Artistic Director of the International Young Composers Academy at “Ticino Musica” Festival.
Classical compositions combined with trans-disciplinary formats as well as Dance build the cornerstones of the third International Young Composers Academy within the scope of the “Ticino Musica” festival, while Dmitri Kourliandski and the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt provide for international appeal.
In this interview, Oscar Bianchi talks about some defining aspects of the Composers Academy.
Oscar, three years ago you took over the artistic direction of the International Young Composers Academy from its founder, Mathias Steinauer – tell us about the innovations you introduced?
Since 2018 we have been inviting an established contemporary music ensemble. In addition, each year the focus will be on a different format. This year we will host the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt.
How did the collaboration with Ensemble Modern come about and what is this year’s format?
I already know the ensemble’s energy and commitment from previous collaborations, for example the project Connect in Frankfurt 2016, that was focusing on the interaction between composer, ensemble and audience.
“Personal experience is my filter to bring aboard the right partners.”
The ensemble’s members have a clear musical vision combined with stylistic openness, but most important they are curious regarding young composers’ works and research.
Two categories have been considered for the competition: instrumental works and multidisciplinary projects. There will be two corresponding concerts and we received over 100 applications. Together with Olga Neuwirth, head of the jury, 14 composers from all over the world… Taiwan, Iran, South and North America, Europe or South Africa have been selected and thanks to our collaboration with the “TicinoInDanza“ festival they will get the opportunity to work with dancers and choreographers. These kind of experiences and encounters lead to new perspectives.
“It is important for composers to think “out of the box”.”
14 composers are quite a few. Can you tell us more about workflow and collaborations?
(laughs) Not to mention ten further passive observers…
We explicitly focus on working as a group, which benefits both the music and the exchange of ideas and experiences. Elitist, competitive thinking, in order to elect a winner is not our goal.
“The key concept is “collective project”. Group over elite.”
There will be various conferences and lectures, from which everyone can profit, i.e. with Dmitri Kourliandski and other guests like Katharina Rosenberger or Michael Wertmüller.
Nevertheless, a particularly good composition sticks in one’s mind, goes without saying.
What kind of venues did you pick for these two different concert formats?
The “classical” contemporary Concert is going to be held in the LAC’s (Lugano Arte e Cultura) “foyer”, a venue conceived for various artistic activities as well as crossroad for locals and tourists to meet, whereas the multidisciplinary concert will take place in Mendrisio’s “Chiostro dei Serviti”, an outdoor courtyard.
Couldn’t this choice of a courtyard performance in Mendrisio turn out to be risky? The contemporary music community in Ticino is rather small.
The concert is scheduled to be part of the “Musica nel Mendrisiotto” festival, a recurring event that can rely on an interested and already established public, furthermore its visual components, as well as interactions with other art forms make it suitable for a broader audience.
“The contemporary music scene on a level playing field. That would be my dream.”
Do you have other plans and visions for the Composers Academy – where do you see further development potential?
Thanks to the support of the “Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne”, we have been able to invite a top ensemble and award scholarships. My vision would be to make the Academy available free of charge, including travel and accommodation, so that participation would be open to all. Contemporary Music is part of a restrictive system that can lead to exclusion. I’m determined to stop this kind of discrimination.
Interview Gabrielle Weber