Neue Musik Rümlingen’s 30th anniversary – birthday edition despite Corona: 20.-24.8.2020
Due to the current situation all summer festivals have been cancelled. All of them? Almost! A small festival for contemporary music in the Basel region will be taking place: Neue Musik Rümlingen.
The event will take place from August 20 to 24 in the small village of Läufelfingen and the reason for this exception is the festival’s special. “The audience will be hiking outdoors, where compositions specifically written for the landscape can be enjoyed” says managing director Tumasch Clalüna. This, however, is not a special feature of this year’s edition, as the festival has been focusing on unusual formats since its foundation 30 years ago. The audience will walk in small groups of maximum 10 persons, in full respect of the current guidelines and reservation is therefore mandatory. Starting point will be Läufelfingen station and from there, the route leads up the old pass road towards Hauenstein and in a large loop, back to Läufelfingen, specifically to its SilO12 exhibition space. Along the way, the audience can linger and enjoy works by eleven young composers, created specifically for each particular location.
Tobias Krebs, rêves éveillés, 2019
The audience will walk towards the music and after a while carry on, without necessarily experiencing the entire composition. A challenge for the invited composers, as Tumasch Clalüna pointed out. Some works are rather to be defined sound situations instead of conventional compositions with a clear beginning and end, while others are more installation-like or let the performers spontaneously react to the passing audience. Instead of a conventional concert festival, Tumasch Clalüna therefore prefers the definition of “musical landscape walk”. “Park Opera 2” by Polish composer Wojtek Blecharz, for example, which will be premiered at the festival, fits this idea perfectly as Blecharz composed the opera specifically for the landscape above Läufelfingen, same goes for the performance “Waves” by Lara Stanic, also referring to the surroundings.
Lara Stanic: 4Laptops, 2019
But why does Neue Musik Rümlingen actually take place in Läufelfingen and not in Rümlingen? We’ve been invited by SiLO12 for a cooperation some time ago, explains Clalüna and this year was the right opportunity, as an anniversary exhibition had been planned in addition to the music.
A closer look at the programme reveals that the composers are remarkably young, e.g. new works by Tobias Krebs, Léo Collin or Anda Kryeziu will be heard and performed. This is surprising, because one could assume that a 30-year anniversary is the occasion to invite big names of the scene. Tumasch Clalüna answers that the festival prefers to stay focused on what is currently going on and to look ahead rather than back.
Léo Collin, Corals, 2020
The 30 years retrospective of the festival’s history won’t be completely missing though, as at the end of the walk, SiLO12 will host the «Aus dem Schuber – Archiv Rümlingen» exhibition, with the Basel ensemble “zone expérimentale” performing works related to the festival’s entire history.
Further information: The sound hiking and “Aus dem Schuber” concerts will take place on Saturday 22. and Sunday 23. of August, while the exhibition will run from Friday 21. to Monday 24. of August, with an opening vernissage on Thursday evening (August 20).
Interview with Antoine Chessex @ Swiss Music Prize 2020_1
The mystery is revealed: this year’s Swiss Grand Prix Musique goes to Erika Stucky, singer, musician and performer of the new folk genre.
There are 14 other prizewinners, several of which in the broad genre of contemporary and experimental music.
Neo-Blog will portray them in loose succession, starting with Antoine Chessex, saxophonist, composer, sound artist and sound theorist.
Antoine Chessex was born in Vevey in 1980. After residencies in New York, London and Berlin, he now lives in Zurich and is considered one of the most innovative young musicians in Switzerland. Chessex is not afraid of genre boundaries and moves fluently between composed and improvised music, noise and sound art. In addition, he is an internationally active author, lecturer and curator and raises awareness regarding socio-political issues such as inequality or precariousness in the artistic creation realm.
In this interview he talks with Gabrielle Weber about sound and hearing.
Congratulations on being awarded first of all! Were you surprised?
I am very happy thanks and I was a bit surprised I admit. Especially since my work is rather on the edge of the commercial music scene and cannot be assigned to any genre.
What does this award mean to you?
The prize is a sign of recognition that my professional practice, which has now been going on for twenty years, is being acknowledged. I was not trained in an institution, but in real life and through practice. Receiving the prize as an individual artist, however, is kind of ambivalent though, as my music mainly develops in a collective practice and there are often several people involved.
Antoine Chessex / Eklekto: écho/cide, Ausschnitt
Does the price have a special meaning in these peculiar times of corona pandemic? The topic of precariousness in music creation is central to many and you draw attention to it in your magazine “Multiple”…
The current situation shows how fragile and precarious the whole system is for many freelance artists in Switzerland. Many musicians are professionally forced to live in a state of improvisation. They only make ends meet by combining different (cultural) works. If one element is missing or gets lost, the whole situation quickly collapses. The complexity of the matter is also due to the fact that artists need a lot of time to experiment and research and to always be “productive” therefore becomes problematic. In my opinion, art is not a service, but rather a social activity, so the real question today is under what circumstances art and music creation as a profession can still exist.
“It’s like sonic fiction, letting imagination unfold”
You question the romanticised sound image of nature in music. Some of your works have been compared to ” primal elemental forces “, like earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.
My music perhaps represents nature more metaphorically, as I whish to deconstruct clichés portraying nature as just beautiful, calm and harmonious. Nature is also chaotic, violent and loud. In works like “The experience of limit” the piano sounds like a storm at sea. It’s like sonic fiction, letting imagination unfold. I’m tonally interested in phenomena like seismic activities, tornadoes, snow avalanches or heavy rainfall for instance.
Antoine Chessex / Tamriko Kordzaia, The experience of limit
You associate sound and hearing with power and plead for critical listening: What is it all about?
Music is culturally constructed and embedded in various historical traditions. Basically, however, I am mostly concerned with the relationship between sound and hearing. Hearing is never neutral, but always situated. There are complex mechanisms at play and it is about power relations: The tradition of the European avant-garde, for example, excluded many voices. It takes debate to uncover the boundaries of the audible and the term “critical listening” invites us to listen and question power relations as well as social dimensions.
Music scenes and institutions often operate homogeneously, while reality is highly heterogeneous.
Your works live between improvised and written music, noise and sound art – without any fear of contact between musical genres: how does this work in the practice of the institutions?
When it comes to sound and hearing, music genres become obsolete, although cultural institutions are usually organized according to them. In the independent scene, music functions differently than in the institutional contemporary framework and sound art requires different spaces. Music scenes and institutions often operate homogeneously, while reality is highly heterogeneous. The more artists move between the different scenes, the more structural changes can take place.
You are not “only” a composer and musician, but also active as curator, e.g. for the “Textures” festival at legendary Café OTO in London. Do your composing and curating activities influence each other?
Curating is mainly about other artists and bringing people together. Composing, curating, but also improvising and artistic research are connected in many ways and represent different aspects of my practice.
A new composition by Antoine Chessex will be premiered at Festival Label Suisse in September, interpreted by Simone Keller on church organ and Dominik Blum on Hammond organ.
Interview: Gabrielle Weber
On July 4 and 5, the closed-down chemical factory of Uetikon am See will host Al(t)chemiefestival, a small, carefully curated music festival presenting a wide musical spectrum ranging from classical to contemporary music, performance and sound art. The disused factory site is of particular importance in the festival context.
“Die Chemische” as it’s lovingly called, is a 200-year-old chemical factory and a monument of industrial culture situated in a prime location on the lake of Zurich.
A new complex will be built there by 2028, hosting a school, offices, apartments and commercial premises. Currently artists and musicians have established studios and workshops there, as the large area will be used for cultural purposes until the conversion is completed.
Marcel Babazadeh, sound engineer, and Sophie Krayer, stage designer, have been running the Klang und Raum studio in the “Chemische” for some time now, offering sound consulting for public spaces and creating artistic projects that combine music with space. During the lockdown, the Atelier caused a sensation with live streaming of digital concerts, during which an enthusiastic social media community of well over 1000 people came together each Monday.
This is how the idea of Al(t)chemiefestival came to life.
Pianist Tamriko Kordzaia has been working with the duo for a long time and contributed to the Digital Concerts with a contemporary solo recital. She is the third member of the curators-directors team.
According to Kordzaia, the idea of promoting the musical side of the area through a festival had been around for some time now. Corona had initially inhibited the plan, but as the restrictions loosened up it became an inspiration to spontaneously take up the idea again. And – especially due to numerous requests for participation from ” starving ” artists – the project took off and expanded into a two-day festival.
Furthermore, the area is perfect regarding the current corona guidelines. According to Kordzaia: “One can play in different rooms and change places, play music indoors and outdoors, but also take a walk by the lake in between or simply linger”. For example, one concert takes place in a vintage furniture hall, while others take place outdoors.
“we would like to take advantage of the artistic synergies of the entire area” (Kordzaia)
The place is not just a backdrop for the festival, according to Babazadeh “We are in dialogue with the space, with the place and also with history”.
With the Al(t)chemiefestival, the trio of directors wants to set an example. Kordzaia says: “Through Corona and the paralysis of all artistic activities, it is important to us to involve as many musicians from the area as possible and to give them the opportunity to play”.
The musical leitmotif of the festival is very personal, as musicians perform pieces of their own choice that they have been working on intensively during the lockdown, freshly created compositions or projects that were postponed during the break. Trombonist Nils Wolgram, for example, presents new pieces of a CD that will be released in autumn.
Nils Wogram: Sneak Preview, Soloprogramm 2020
The line-up includes both new and traditional works: composer Stefan Wirth for instance plays his own but also Beethoven’s piano works and Dominique Girod performs outside on the double bass.
There is also electroacoustics, for example by Nicolas Buzzi, as well as a sound installation, a “sonic sphere”, by Krayer and Babazadeh.
Nicolas Buzzi: ssssscccccaaaaallllleeeee, 2019
“Al(t)chemie” or “alchemy” – the (t) is in brackets and this ambiguity refers to musical variety but also to the magic of the place. “It’s a killer area – and when it mixes with sound and live performance, it becomes unique,” says Babazadeh. Gabrielle Weber
The Al(t)chemie festival will take place on July, 4 and 5 in the closed down chemical factory of Uetikon am See.
On both days there three concert blocks will start at 15h00 and given the current corona situation, the audience is kindly asked to register.
Due to the great demand, the Digital Concerts will continue until the end of August.
The renowned Swiss-based online magazine Norient, founded in 2002, has recently been integrated into the new online platform Norient Space – The Now In Sound. With a community of 700 journalists*, musicians* and scientists* from over 70 countries, this new platform bundles digital reflection on global contemporary and experimental music creation.
On March 5th, Norient Space’s beta version was launched at “Haus der Kulturen der Welt” in Berlin. A panel as well as a sound installation complemented the opening of this new “virtual transdisciplinary gallery and community platform between art, journalism and science”. The Swiss launch is scheduled for September 24.
Julia Vorkefeld was there at the Berlin launch and reports for neo.mx3 about Norient Space and the panel Life after Music Magazines-the Norient Way.
The independent Swiss music and media art platform Norient reinvents itself after almost 20 years. Culture’s glory days are over and in times when music analysis consist of the hearts and likes of the post-digital era, the challenge for music journalism is to keep innovative. The Now In Sound is Norient’s motto and the sound of now is a mirror of global events – which is what makes music journalism still relevant. The platform relaunched its project in a strategically smart way, starting from Berlin with an event in the prestigious “Haus der Kulturen der Welt”.
A relaunch is a rather brave undertaking these times. We had no idea that shortly after the Berlin launch, a virus would completely freeze all cultural industries and throw many of its actors into even greater precariousness. Not to mention that many renowned music magazines, such as Spex and Groove, had buried their analogue products and the Swiss magazine Dissonance had to abandon completely.
Independent music journalism has therefore eventually been declared an endangered species. The relaunch’s kick-off was accordingly complemented by a panel on the future of music journalism under the title “Life after Music Magazines-the Norient Way” which announced the fact that virtual, interdisciplinary, global, collaborative and transmedial should be some of the solutions for contemporary music journalism.
No – Orient: virtual, interdisciplinary, global, collaborative and transmedial..
Under the motto Connecting the dots – the network stands for shared knowledge production and its makers pursue ambitious ideas with it. Norient has been committed to diversity from the very beginning, long before it became a buzzword in the German-speaking cultural branch. Diversity not just as an empty phrase, but as serious policy for the name alone, a play on words from No and Orient, contains the avoidance musical exoticism and the associated power relations.
Norient Snaps Trailer 2020
The panel reflects the platform’s internationality and diversity and global players, such as Jenny Fatou Mbaye (Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries, City University of London), Faisal M. Khan (curator, Akaliko Collective, Dhaka) or Kamila Metwaly (music journalist, musician Savvy Contemporary Berlin) were involved.
The main focus was on how the platform could improve its content and formal orientation, with the aim of achieving more diversity, more internationality, new formats and events, and thus more quality overall.
Joy Frempong, The sample shapes the song, 2012
We care about content – is another motto and all speakers agreed that journalism in general and thus also music journalism should refocus on quality and that creating high-quality content has its price. However, since music platforms and editorial offices usually pay poorly, it is no wonder that music journalism is degenerating more and more into a badly paid hobby. It is a sad fact that music reviews are used as a corporate and marketing tool by global brands such as RedBull or Ballantines, as in these cases money would actually be available for cultural knowledge production. In order not to leave the shaping of culture to the brands, other solutions for financing independent music platforms, free of advertising, censorship and algorithms must be found. One solution the speakers pointed out could be more generosity in sharing content.
Financial precariousness in music journalism, however, was not discussed in depth and as I personally raised the issue, it was clear that all those involved were well aware of the problem. The input to consider as many professional areas as possible was however hardly convincing.
Norient tries to finance itself through a membership model. Connoisseurs who appreciate the platform support its content through subscriptions, and selected in-depth content such as dossiers or specials is reserved for subscribers while the rest of the platform is free of charge.
Whether Norient will be able to survive with its new model is not certain but we really hope so, because in an era of ethnic backlash, such cultural platforms are deeply needed. Julia Vorkefeld
Norient Space is currently in beta mode. The official digital launch will take place on September 24th.
“Sprechstunde neue Musik” (new music consultations) is an online offer by Musikfestival Bern based on the slogan: “Listening to and discussing music”. Tobias Reber, composer and performer, is responsible for the festival’s communication program. He initiated the format in 2019 already, when the consultation hours took place live and now offers them as video conferences.
Gabrielle Weber talked with Reber about this format, field recordings and Terry Riley’s work “In C”.
Recently you held the first online “Sprechstunde neue Musik”, under the title Schichtungen (Layering) you discussed Terry Riley’s piece “in C”, a work belonging to the minimal music genre, insistently focused on the note C. Why this particular work?
I decided to start with this piece because on the one hand it is accessible and on the other hand it relates to the festival theme of tectonics. It is a layering work in which layers of sound are shifted over and against each other.
Terry Riley, In C, Ensemble Ictus live, 2012
The title “Sprechstunde neue Musik” (new music consultations) is to be interpreted in an entertaining way – people are usually rather reluctant to consult their doctor…
On one hand, consultations are of course meant literally, as the idea is to speak together. At the same time, it has an ironic twist, as some sort of “hotline”, because contemporary music can also cause headaches. It has a problem with reaching a larger audience. My concern is: how can I stimulate the desire for the multi-faceted nature of this music. I often encounter the fear of having to understand everything and would like to get rid of it.
Let us take gourmet cuisine as an example or analogy. If I were to eat in a molecular restaurant, I don’t expect to have to understand that either. I am consciously embarking on something new. New music is also about getting involved sensually, trying, tasting.
“I would like to offer a large buffet.”
The consultations are unique, taking place in the here and now, albeit virtually – whoever is present experiences an exclusive interactive moment… how did that come across?
Actually, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the idea of being together in that particular moment.
There is a need to experiment with virtual encounters. We are all learning to build trust, for example with strangers via video conferencing, it is almost a new cultural technique.
The next dates are themed: “Klingende Welten” (Sounding Worlds) and “Brüche, Störungen, Falten” (Fractures, Disturbances, Wrinkles) – which sounds a bit general: can you provide further information?
“Klingende Welten” is about real sounds recorded in the “real” world, so-called field recordings. For example, the sound of earth movements recorded by dedicated sensors, or of ice floes moving or rubbing against each other, recorded by hydrophones or waterproof microphones in Arctic waters.
In the final talk, we will discuss works that have been created for a specific location, in the form of performances or sound sculptures for example.
Tobias Reber, Polyglot, 2013
The talks are completely open and aimed at experts as well as interested amateur audience: how does this combination work?
During the first online session we had a good combination of professional musicians and amateurs. All of them brought very different angles and knowledge. But we had to establish a common ground first, which was enriching for both sides.
I defined the initiative as an experiment and encouraged people to make suggestions, in order to find out together what works well.
How exactly did you approach Terry Riley’s “In C”?
I started by preparing a private, dedicated playlist on Soundcloud, which I shared and we compared three very different interpretations. There is a recording with musicians from Mali for example, where they improvise on the themes instead of repeating them, which – by the way – is absolutely in Terry Riley’s nature.
Terry Riley, Africa Express, In C Mali, live at Tate Modern, 2015
Is there anything in the next talk we can look forward to in particular?
Last winter we experienced the so-called “singing ice” phenomenon. I experienced it myself in the Upper Engadine by the frozen Lake St.Moritz. One of the recordings I bring along has to do with that… Gabrielle Weber
Musikfestival Bern will take place from September 2, to September 6. This year’s festival is themed “Tectonics”.
Klanglieferservice (Sound delivery) Gare du Nord Basel
The Gare du Nord – Bahnhof für Neue Musik Basel team, came up with a special programme for these lockdown times: sound delivery service (Klanglieferservice).
Their motto: imaginative travel is a good way to stay mobile and keep your soul warm, especially these days.
Like any other music hall, the Gare du Nord – Bahnhof für Neue Musik Basel is closed since mid-March. As one of the most important contemporary music venues in Switzerland, it offers a unique year-round programme. In an interview with Gabrielle Weber, the artistic director Désirée Meiser, explains how Gare du Nord is coping with the current corona situation.
Désirée Meiser, the Gare du Nord website welcomes its visitors with the message: “We are working from home”: What are your days like at the moment?
We are amazed, as days are actually very busy. We’re taking care of cancellations and postponements, of course, but the programming has to go on as well. We have different chatrooms for this. Qualitatively all works well, but quantitatively it can get tiring sometimes.
You were in the middle of two seasonal highlights, “Later Born” and “Musiktheaterformen”. What does the near future look like now that all events have been cancelled for the time being?
In the worst case, we won’t be able to offer anything during this season – but that’s not certain yet. On May 8th, for example, a major cooperation project should have taken place as part of ‘Later Born’: the silent movie “The City without Jews” (1924, Karl Breslauer) with a new composition by Olga Neuwirth (premiere WienModern, 2018), performed by the Basel Symphony Orchestra. It’s a highly political project that was very important to us. But – together with the symphony orchestra – we are now planning to postpone.
Olga Neuwirth, Die Stadt ohne Juden, UA Festival WienModern, Wiener Konzerthaus 7.11.2018
How does the current situation affect you, your team and all those involved in the various projects?
It is a great challenge. We have now requested part-time work for part of the team and at the moment, we still manage somehow, but long-term forecasts are very difficult. We are trying to deal with it as solidly as possible, also with regard to the musicians and the ensembles, who find themselves in difficult situations.
Gare du Nord called for solidarity with action such as #ichwillkeingeldzurück / #solidaritätmitfreienkünstlerinnen: a very important initiative – how did it come about?
We got the idea from existing initiatives and find it important and useful. We’re discussing with the ensembles and trying to postpone certain concerts, but many are still pending. What we are experiencing is definitely great understanding from the audience as well as great empathy for all those involved in culture.
“A great deal of flexibility – also mental flexibility – is now required of everyone”
You came up with a programme to fill this gap for your audience: the sound delivery service: how did this idea originate?
Following the high streaming services demand, the idea came about to counteract this fast pace of life and the constant need to offer something new. We wanted to open windows and possibilities to browse through selected archive recordings. There are such wonderful programmes, conversations and concert recordings, especially from SRF 2 Kultur.
Performing new pieces is important and good. But a lot of great existing music is too seldom proposed. The fact that we all have to stay at home now is a great opportunity to turn our attention to works that had been forgotten.
Football was also an inspiration: as the games can no longer take place, football fans started to watch legendary games from the past. (laughs)
What is special about the sound delivery service – and why should one listen to it?
We have asked experts to send us their personal favorites and got a great flow of beautiful finds, which are always surprising and a pleasure to listen to.
Terms like ‘physical distancing’ or ‘social distancing’ are omnipresent: Do you feel socially close to your audience and your team, despite physical distance? The sound delivery service also symbolically stands for music as a unifying element…
We don’t want to overwhelm the audience with a flood of mails during this break. The sound delivery service is intended to be kind of a virtual connection, in that we find ourselves in a virtual space and listen to something together. That may give a certain comfort, but commonly experiencing live sound in a real space is something unique that cannot be replaced.
Right now, our team is incredibly precious. Despite sometimes great geographical distances, we are all highly motivated and have a strong sense of cohesion.
The emergency state as “wake-up call”
Does this Corona period also offer opportunities or potential?
One of the phenomena of this strange state of emergency triggers, is some kind of ‘wake-up call’ – we appreciate what we had and have with new awareness… Interview: Gabrielle Weber
The sound delivery service started on March 30 and features personal highlights on the GdN homepage daily. The selections have been proposed, among others, by Mark Sattler, Author Lucerne Festival, Bernhard Günther, artistic director of WienModern and ZeitRäume Basel festivals, Anja Wernicke, managing director and main producer of ZeitRäume Basel, Uli Fussenegger, head of Neue Musik FHNW or Désirée Meiser, artistic director GdN, as well as SRF 2 Kultur music editors.
The submission deadline for Impuls neue Musik’s funding 2020 is the first of May.
The competition is looking for music projects contributing to the exchange between German- and French-speaking regions, as well as cultural areas throughout Germany, France and Switzerland.
Impuls neue Musik is a transnational funding programme for contemporary music. Since years the project fund commits to creating links between the music scenes of Germany, France and Switzerland, i.e. through ‘idea workshops’ giving a concrete expression to cultural exchange on international level. In 2020, two new jury members joined the board: German composer Brigitta Muntendorf and French journalist Anne Montaron.
Gabrielle Weber interviewed Brigitta Muntendorf regarding Impuls neue Musik, the current situation, digital networking and long-term potential of international cooperation.
Brigitta Muntendorf, you usually travel a lot and constantly work with different teams and partners in different places: tell us about the current situation?
I’m currently working from home – like any other musician or composer – as all planned events have been cancelled for the time being. Trying to change that, wanting to travel or mourning cancelled events wouldn’t make any sense. What makes sense is to trust the artists, their creativity and capability to come up with ideas.
“Music can be many different things and have different meanings”
How would you personally like to contribute to Impuls neue Musik?
I am curious about themes and questions other artists or ensembles deal with, as well as the connections they seek and their motivation to do so. That’s the approach I would like to keep, when looking at projects. Artistically, I believe that contemporary music can be very broad and I would like to encourage that.
What is special about the Impuls financing…?
The focus being on international cooperation and internationality always carries the challenge of thinking on a larger scale.
Joint adventure, Ensemble C Barré und Neue Vokalsolisten, Eclat 2020
…and the combination of the three countries – Germany, France and Switzerland?
The three countries are geographically close of course, but each of them has its distinctive characteristics: Contemporary Music in France, for example, is based on a compositional background that is completely different from the one of Germany and Switzerland. At the same time, all three countries pursue similar formats, festivals and structures in their current practice. They come from different cultural origins but find themselves in a common performance ground.
“the potential to exit one’s own comfort zone”
What are the challenges of international cooperation?
Already existing contacts are essential. Many things can only be achieved by joining forces – with partners in one’s own country, but also abroad. As for Impuls Neue Musik, the main questions are: how high is the potential to exit one’s own comfort zone and what are the specific reasons that make a project meaningful and working in the mentioned countries. But curiosity can also be a factor and produce something that no one had foreseen.
… you don’t often get to meet across borders in order to brainstorm.
With regard to climate and climate change, I think it is important to carefully think about why people should meet and when other communicational means might be insufficient. The quality of a meeting primarily depends on how much thought both sides have given it in advance, not on how often one travels from A to B.
What about sustainability – does it make sense to work together just once?
Sustainability plays an important role in cooperation. In not planning single projects, but focusing on long-term cooperation for instance. The longer the planning, the more artistic benefit the partners involved will enjoy.
What do co-production projects achieve better than others?
In co-production projects, the nature of contact has a different quality. Creation is supported as such and in the early stages of a project, the specific peculiarities and characteristics of the participants are strongly taken into account.
We find ourselves in a special situation, with national borders exceptionally closed – do you consider this a threat to the basic idea of Impuls?
I believe that ‘wanting to connect’ across borders is something that is firmly rooted in our minds since the digital revolution at the very latest, especially among younger generations. The current situation calls for a new way of approaching basic questions like: how to make art, how to show art, what is the meaning of art? But also: what new ways and forces could be found in order to connect and cooperate? We have to dwell into digital approaches and interactions – keeping in mind that the digital world also has its limits.
IScreen, YouScream!, Brigitta Muntendorf, Ensemble Garage, Eclat Festival
Which direction could Impuls take in the long run? What is your vision?
Borders between art forms are becoming increasingly blurred – like between music and performance, or music and transmedia. The concept of composer and musical material are also changing. I believe this is where Impuls neue Musik should position itself more strongly and there is an even more sustainable funding project I have in mind, built upon long-term relationships with artists.
Interview, Gabrielle Weber
New jury members 2020:
After studying in Bremen, Cologne, Paris and Kyoto, Brigitta Muntendorf has been awarded numerous prizes, including the “young talents” GEMA Music Authors’ Prize in 2017. She holds a professorship at the Cologne University of Music.
Anne Montaron, Germanist and musicologist, has been working as an author at Radio France (France Musique) for more than 25 years. Her most famous format is her weekly programme on improvisation: A l’Improviste.
Switzerland joined in 2018 with Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia as partner. Jury members for Switzerland are Xavier Dayer, composer, Thomas Meyer, freelance music journalist and Bernhard Günther, artistic director of the WienModern and ZeitRäume Basel festivals.
Shaker Kami, Nik Bärtsch und Percussions de Strasbourg, Jazzdor 2020
Funded projects are regularly shown and enthusiastically received at the most important international festivals. To name a few examples, the French-Swiss co-production between Eklekto, Geneva Percussion Center and the vocal ensemble NESEVEN for the opening of the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik 2019, the Joint Venture project with Marseille’s Ensemble C Barré and the Neue Vocalsolisten at the Eclat Festival Stuttgart 2020 or the world premiere Shaker Kami project, with Nik Bärtsch and the Percussions de Strasbourg at Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg.
Deadline for applications regarding this year’s funding is May 1, 2020 and only transnational projects with a performance date not earlier than August 1, 2020 will be considered.
La Chaux-de-Fonds’ Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain (NEC) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and invites to its anniversary weekend. “Time to Party” is the event tied to the big birthday concert of Saturday March 14, with works by Anton Webern, Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber and Daniel Zea, followed by a marathon of mini-concerts from Louis Jucker’s ‘Suitcase Suite’ on Sunday.
Jaronas Scheurer “Most people don’t immediately think of the NEC if questioned about contemporary music in Switzerland, but as soon as the ensemble is mentioned, it brings a smile to their faces.” – says Antoine Françoise, pianist and artistic director of the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain (NEC, when asked regarding the secret weapon or superpower of NEC. Putting a smile on your face sums up NEC’s philosophy pretty well. About 25 years ago, a group of musicians from La Chaux-de-Fonds gathered together to share their passion for new music.
A group of friends – a solid institution
A lot happened in the meantime: the group became a solid institution in the Swiss music scene and new musicians, including Antoine Françoise, joined. He first joined NEC as pianist, about 13 years ago and replaced founding member Pierre-Alain Monot as artistic director in 2016.
Antoine Françoise dirigiert das Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain in: Mathis Saunier, Palindrome for String Orchestra, am Antigel Festival Genève 2019,
For Françoise, ongoing change is essential. He intends to remain artistic director as long as he’ll be able to change the NEC’s aesthetic and if he can no longer do so, he hopes to hand over the reins to someone with new and fresh ideas. But what remains despite all the change is the common love for music, so NEC can still be summed up as a group of friends who want to share their passion for new music.
A full week of partying
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, NEC is presenting itself and La Chaux-de-Fonds with an entire week of concerts, beginning with a series of mini-concerts presenting solo pieces in various city locations. On Friday, the ensemble will be equipped with self-made instruments to perform the “Suitcase Suite” by punk rock guitarist Louis Jucker, on Saturday NEC will perform the big birthday concert with the fitting title “Time to Party” and for the finale, on Sunday, the NEC musicians will present the mini-concerts’ solo pieces in public.
Saturday’s concert will be particularly representative of the Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain: starting with 1940’s Variations for Orchestra, op. 30 by Anton Webern, one of 20th century music most important work, arranged for ensemble by its former director, Pierre-Alain Monot followed by “Soliloque” by French composer Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber. It is the first time that NEC will play a one of Sinnhuber’s works. The piece “Pocket enemy” from 2017 by Colombian composer Daniel Zea, who has worked with NEC on several occasions and composed “Pocket enemy” for Antoine Françoise, will complete the evening.
Daniel Zea, Pocket enemy, Ensemble Vortex, 2017
So first a classic of the 20th century with a greeting to the former conductor Pierre-Alain Monot, followed by a more recent work by a friend of the ensemble and the discovery of a new composer – a good summary of NEC’s philosophy. All three pieces are written for a large ensemble so that, as many NEC musicians as possible, can be involved. Françoise’s only rule for putting together NEC’s programmes is the following: “I don’t shape the programmes to please the audience, but to please my musicians and when musicians are happy, I know the audience can feel it.” Goes with NEC’s goal to put a smile on everyone’s face…
friday, march 13, 6:30pm, opening and vernissage, Théâtre ABC, Ausstellung: Annick Burion & Pablo Fernandez (opening hours Sa: 11-24h; So: 11h-20h), musical intervention: Matthieu Grandola
8:30pm Louis Jucker, The Suitcase Suite, Temple Allemand
10pm Marcel Chagrin, tourneur de 78 tours saturday, march 14, 8:30pm, Time to party, Temple Allemand La Chaux-de-Fonds:
Anton Webern, Variations pour orchestre op. 30, nouvel arrangement pour ensemble Pierre-Alain Monod, création
Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber, Soliloque pour ensemble
Daniel Zea, Pocket enemy pour sampler et ensemble sunday, march 15, from 2pm, Miniatures, Temple Allemand La Chaux-de-Fonds
2pm Miniatures I
2:40pm Pierre Jodlowski: Typologies du regard pour piano et électronique
3pm Apéritif SONART
4pm Miniatures II
4:40pm Matthieu Grandola, flûte: pieces from Eliott Carter, Toru Takemitsu, Kaija Saariaho, Ofer Pelz
5:15pm MIniatures III
The Percussion Threads from Zurich to Mzansi concert at Zurich’s Rietberg Museum, is a meeting of both musicians and compositions from Switzerland and South Africa and will subsequently go on tour in the two countries.
Katja Heldt How does classical music sound in the 21st century? How does musical exchange work in the decolonization era? And in what context should it take place?
The Swiss initiative guerillaclassics is engaged in a wide range of projects, searching for answers and investigating the current relevance and formats of classical music. In the spring of 2020, Zurich’s Cosmic Percussion Ensemble will tour South Africa with local musicians.
Cosmic Percussion Ensemble, Trailer
The event will be launched on March 6th with a concert at Zurich’s Rietberg Museum, in which new works by Swiss composer Nik Bärtsch and South African composer Neo Muyanga will be performed as part of the current FIKTION KONGO exhibition.
Hiromi Gut, artistic director and founder of guerillaclassics, who initiated this project, explains: “The Congo exhibition features an exciting change of perspective in which young Congolese artists are granted a voice. Our tour is structured in the same way, we work with musicians from Switzerland, Angola, Congo and South Africa and wish to explore different ways of playing”.
Radical and new approach to classical and contemporary music
Since its foundation in 2017, guerillaclassics has been committed to radically rethink both classical and contemporary music’s long-established structures, regarding both concert business as well concept and settings. Their diverse programmes pursue the clear goal of bringing what was usually relegated to concert halls into everyday life. The more unusual the setting, the better, whether on the road, construction sites or at a sport event in the mountains with a local yodelling club: guerillaclassics operates at the intersection of music with drama, dance and theatre, by changing the context of musical experiences with unusual concert formats.
“With guerillaclassics I wanted to fulfill the dream of making classical music an everyday part of society. To achieve this, the music must take place outside the confines of a shielded concert hall and brought into the various communities” says Hiromi Gut. For Gut, dealing with the history of apartheid and the strong social differences that still exist in South Africa is an important aspect of this project: “We play at sunrise for the commuters at Park Station in Johannesburg, Africa’s largest train station. Playing in a public space has a special relevance as access to classical European music is still associated with a white minority in South Africa”.
A link between cultures
For the South Africa tour as well as the concert at Rietberg Museum, the two composers Nik Bärtsch and Neo Muyanga have written pieces that deal with cultural exchange but also with their musical origins, placed in a larger context. The works of Zurich composer Nik Bärtsch explore different musical genres and traditions, searching for connections between cultures.
Nik Bärtsch, Ronin: Modul 45
For the journey, Bärtsch composed COSMIC APPROPRIATION for the four percussionists of the Cosmic Percussion Ensemble. He describes his approach as follows: “When composing, I like to use instruments as well as ritual techniques from different regions of the world and I am personally much more interested in how sound and playing techniques can be used, rather than in the origin of instruments. I don’t believe that music is a universal language, but I do think that there are certain codes, affinities as well as resonance and spaces that are used in the production and reception of music who are in fact universal”.
Neo Muyanga also uses various percussive traditions and traditional instruments like the ngoni or uHadi as well as the voice in his composition. The piece combines written elements with improvisation and is designed to incorporate playing styles from different regions such as the Xhosa tradition.
The audience is invited to search for the origins and roots of music and to discover something new in unusual contexts as well as to hear the old in a new way. Katja Heldt
Trailer guerillaclassics: Percussion Threads from Zurich to Mzansi