Into the Future with experimental Music

SONIC MATTER Festival to start in Zurich
What does the city sound like underground? Does music sound different when it’s played for a single person? Can it help to survive in a damaged ecosystem? December 2 to 5 2021, artists and festival organisers of SONIC MATTER Festival in Zurich will be looking for answers to these and other questions of our time.

 

George Lewis Soundlines Skirball © Digitice Media Team

 

Friederike Kenneweg
This year’s festival motto is TURN. Different formats, like of course concerts, but also exhibitions and round tables, address such moments of change in music, but also in environment and society.

The Walcheturm art space, for example, will be transformed into a 48-hour listening and video lounge during the festival under the title “weichekissenheisseohren”.

 

Danceable music, anticipating the catastrophe

 

At the same venue, Andreas Eduardo Frank explores the relationship between „Musik&Katastrophen“ (“music & catastrophes”) in the “border line club culture”. Being electrified, expecting the inevitable, tense and on the verge of discharge – Frank translates this pandemic era attitude to life into electronic music with his synthesiser. The tense audience can let the steam out by dancing. At the end of the festival, the GLENN will loudly invite the Walcheturm art space audience to dance.

 

Process-oriented and sustainable

 

The festival should be process-oriented and sustainable, as artistic director Katharina Rosenberger put it in an interview with SRF 2 Kultur in May 2021. The composer has founded a collective with artist and director Julie Beauvais and cultural manager as well as music journalist Lisa Nolte to manage the festival. The three women attach great importance to long-term cooperation with artists and the continuous development of contact with the audience. That’s why they also have a SONIC MATTER website, serving as platform for artistic exchange, research and encounters. Some of the results of this collaboration will be presented during the festival.

SONIC MATTER_OPENLAB, for example will feature works by artists, scientists and activists from Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, the USA, Brazil and Switzerland in a joint performance. From very different places in the world, all these actors use their respective means to draw attention to the threats facing our planet. In a deep listening experiment, these different voices, approaches and perspectives are made accessible to the audience.

The SONIC MATTER_village explores the sound of Zurich’s city districts together with its residents. Audio pieces have been created during workshops with residents and will be presented in the festival programme.

The opening concert at the Schauspielhaus Zurich will feature the International Contemporary Ensemble from New York under the title CONNECTIVITY. The programme includes compositions by George Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Helga Arias and Murat Çolak. A work by the Swiss composer Jessie Cox from Biel, but currently studying in New York and very recently premiered at Lucerne Festival Forward, will also be performed.

 


Jessie Cox’s Black as a Hack for Cyborgification, world creation 2020 online (concert recording october 7th 2021 with International Contemporary Ensemble, Target Margin Theatre in Brooklyn) will be performed at concert CONNECTIVITY.

 

The orchestra’s sensuality

Entirely in the spirit of the festival’s motto, the orchestra concert in the Tonhalle Zurich will feature Dieter Ammann’s 2010 work TURN, which traces the transformation from one state of things to another with the means of the orchestra. “Exactly where the music becomes quite clear, easily graspable for the listener, the turn happens, a turning point at which the previous sonority completely implodes and abruptly changes into another sound image,” says Dieter Ammann about his work. “It’s comparable to a scene on a stage, where lighting and technology suddenly create a new atmosphere.”

 

Dieter Ammann, Glut for orchestra, world premiere september first 2019 Lucerne Festival Academy, conductor George Benjamin, inhouse-production SRG/SSR

 

Das Stück für großes Orchester dropped.drowned von Sarah Nemtsov aus dem Jahr 2017 spielt auf feinsinnige Art mit den Klangfarben des Orchesters und macht im Gegensatz dazu Wandlungsprozesse erfahrbar, die sich eher allmählich vollziehen.

 

Chasing the sound of the city

 

Those who want to tune their ears to this kind of sensuality by listening to the sounds of the city can do so on Friday afternoon during a listening walk with sound artist Andres Bosshard, who will set out from the viaduct at the Markthalle in search of special soundscapes or tranquillity and listen, among other things, to the water murmuring of the river Limmat.

At the sound trail “Unter der Klopstockwiese” by sound artist Kaspar König, Zurich’s sound is presented from a completely different perspective: from down below. „Begehbare Hörlandschaft unter der Erde“ (“walkable listening landscape under the earth”) opens a distorted listening world, turning familiar sounds into something alien: enraptured and ghostly.
Friederike Kenneweg

 

Kaspar König let’s us listen to the sound of Zürich over/under the earth..

 

Julie Beauvais / Lisa Nolte / Katharina Rosenberger, Andres Bosshard, George Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Helga Arias, Sarah NemtsovInternational Contemporary EnsembleKaspar König

 

FESTIVAL SONIC MATTER, 2.-5.12.21:
SONIC MATTER_OPENLAB
SONIC MATTER_village

 

concerts mentioned:
2.12.21, 20h, Schauspielhaus Zürich Schiffbau-Box: CONNECTIVITY,
3.12.21, 19:30h, Tonhalle Zürich: TURN
5.12.21, 19h, Alte Kaserne: DIĜITA

 

broadcasts SRF 2 Kultur:
Musik unserer Zeit, 8.12.21, 20h: Sonic matter – ein neues Festival in Zürich, Redaktion Moritz Weber
neoblog, 11.11.21: neue Hörsituationen für neue Musik – Lucerne Festival Forward / u.a. zur UA von Jessie Cox, Autorin Gabrielle Weber
neoblog, 17.11.20: musique de création – Geheimtipp aus Genf im GdN Basel: Gabrielle Weber: Interview mit Jeanne Larrouturou zum Projekt Diĝita

neo-profiles:
Festival Sonic Matter, Katharina Rosenberger, Jessie Cox, Dieter AmmannAndreas Eduardo Frank, Ensemble Batida, Kaspar König

New Music nomads

Portrait Collegium Novum Zurich – Season 21/22 – starting October 30, 2021

Since summer 2019, cellist and musicologist Johannes Knapp is Collegium Novum Zürich’s new artistic director, focussing on new artistic perspectives as well as on broadening the audience for the ensemble. The previous season having to be downscaled due to pandemic reasons, now the first season curated by Knapp can finally take off. Thomas Meyer spoke to him before the second concert, which took place on October 30, under the direction of Emilio Pomàrico in the newly restored main hall of Zurich’s “Tonhalle”.

 

Portrait Collegium Novum Zürich, Konzert Tonhalle Maag Zürich, zVg Collegium Novum Zürich ©François Volpe

Thomas Meyer
New music may not be so young anymore, but it always knows how to rejuvenate itself. This becomes clear when two works written half a century apart, a classic and a newcomer, meet in the 3rd concert of Johannes Knapp’s Collegium Novum Zürich’s (CNZ) season on December 18. Éclat-Multiples will be performed together with (Re)incarnation [Yerlik]: a central work by Pierre Boulez from 1970, next to that of a 34-year-old composer whose name not many are likely to know: Kazakh Sanzhar Baiterekov who based this work on the processes of an old Tengrist myth from his homeland, dealing with the underworld and rebirth.  

Such encounters have a long tradition at the CNZ. Since its founding in 1993, it has pursued on one hand the performance of important contemporary works, which set standards and are important for the musicians’ education, but also for the audience. CNZ has so established an important role in Zurich’s musical life and some of the musicians are part of the collegium since its foundation.  

On the other hand, the ensemble is in quest of the young, the unknown, the challenge and the opening. Cellist and musicologist Johannes Knapp is also on the lookout for “music announcing and embodying of what tomorrow will bring”. He took over the artistic direction and management two years ago, but his first season had to be reduced due to corona.

 

Portrait Johannes Knapp ©Alessandra Carosi

 

Only four concerts and in front of small audiences could take place. Therefore, some performances were streamed for Idagio. In addition, the ensemble tackled three CD projects to be completed this year, one with music by Boulez and one featuring Swiss composer William Blank, as well as a series of student-teacher double portraits such as Heinz Holliger/Sándor Veress or Klaus Huber/Willy Burkhard. That’s also why Huber’s “Remember Golgotha” opened the new season.

 


Klaus Huber, Psalm of Christ, Collegium Novum Zürich, Bariton: Robert Koller, conductor Heinz Holliger, Tonhalle Zürich, in house production SRG/SSR 2015

 

Myths and legends
 

This time the focus will be on myths and legends in contemporary music, which is more to be seen as a stimulating starting idea than an ongoing motto. According to Knapp, myths have a deep connection to music because they transcend logic and words and cannot be clearly fixed. They are attempts to deal with the uncertain, even the horror.  

Therefor several famous myths will appear in the programme: Orpheus in Orpheus falling by Sarah Nemtsov, the creation myth (Day 6) in Eufaunique by Stefano Gervasoni, the Egyptian sun god Ra in Sortie vers la lumière du jour by Gérard Grisey and Cathy van Eck, who teaches in Bern, will transform the Tonhalle into a “forest through which the wind blows” for Daphne’s myth in her new performance.

 


Gérard Grisey: Sortie vers la lumière du jour (1978), Ensemble Phoenix Basel, Leitung Jürg Henneberger, in house production SRG/SSR, Gare du Nord Basel 2016

 

Finally, the season will end with animal legends by Igor Stravinsky (Renard), Ruth Crawford Seeger or Frank Zappa, who was strongly influenced by Edgard Varèse and Stravinsky in his early days.  

 

Encounter with baroque instruments
 

Such programs also question the absolutist dogmas of new music. Why should new music always have to “sound” “new”? Can it not overcome historical boundaries? Questions like these led to an encounter with baroque instruments, specifically with La Scintilla, the early music ensemble of Zurich’s Opera, with French composer Philippe Schoeller presenting his new work Kátoptron which revisits the ancient myth of Echo and Narcissus.  

This is how Collegium Novum Zurich travels down the road. “Crazy nomads of Zurich” is how somebody once wittingly phrased the acronym CNZ, as the ensemble has no fix venue and is always looking for new ones, i.e. the Grossmünster’s crypt this year. As Knapp notes in his season editorial: “Travelling as an exploration of soundscapes by ear. Art means never arriving.”
Thomas Meyer

 

Pierre Boulez, Sanzhar Baiterekov, Sarah Nemtsov, Stefano Gervasoni, Gérard Grisey, Frank Zappa, Igor Strawinsky, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Edgar Varèse, La Scintilla, Philippe Schoeller, Emilio PomàricoChristoph Delz, Dahae BooKelley SheehanMichael Wendeberg

 

Portrait Collegium Novum Zürich @Tonhalle Maag Zürich, zVg Collegium Novum Zürich ©François Volpe

 

upcoming concerts CNZ:
Grosse Tonhalle Zürich, 30.10.21: And falls into the Netherworld, Dirigent: Emilio Pomàrico, Werke von Sarah Nemtsov, Aureliano Cattaneo, Rebecca Saunders, Stefano Gervasoni
Grosse Tonhalle Zürich, 4.12.21: Konzert 3, Dirigent: Johannes Schöllhorn, Stefan Wirth Klavier; Werke von Kelley Sheehan, Tobias Krebs, Dahae Boo, Christoph Delz

broadcasts SRF 2 Kultur:
Neue Musik im Konzert, 1.12.21: Konzert CNZ, Tonhalle Zürich, 30.10.21

neo-profiles:
Collegium Novum Zürich, William Blank, Heinz Holliger, Sandor Veress, Klaus Huber, Willy Burkhard, Cathy van Eck, Gare du Nord, Ensemble Phoenix Basel, Rebecca Saunders, Tobias Krebs

Hyper Hyper!

Gabrielle Weber
Hyper Hyper!? Hyper Duo masters the art of escalation to excess. Pianist Gilles Grimaitre and percussionist Julien Mégroz consistently focus on energy, rhythm and satire. There seem to be no musical styles nor performance boundaries for the duo. Moving between classical avant-garde and pop-rock, Hyper Duo transcends common perceptions in a playful and humorous way. Their new programme Hyper Grid will be premiered at the Gare du Nord – Bahnhof für Neue Musik Basel.  

 

Hyper Duo © 2020 Pablo Fernandez. Bienne, le 07 octobre 2020. HyperDuo, séance vinyl 01

The two artists define Hyper Duo as ‘experimental band’. Julien Mégroz comes from Lausanne and after studying there, he specialised in contemporary music at Basel’s FHNW. Gilles Grimaitre, from Geneva, studied at Bern’s HKB and went on winning a scholarship at Frankfurt’s international Ensemble Moderne Akademie. Both describe themselves as performers, improvisers, composers as well as project inventors.  

Overcoming stylistic and genre boundaries and expanding horizons is the central focus of their duo, always in close collaboration with other artists and musicians. Energetic and humorous, Hyper Duo moves between traditional composition from the classical avant-garde, rocking electro-energy and absurd poetry. They draw inspiration both from popular and cultivated music.  

New pieces for their chosen instrumentation as well as modern classics, supplemented with experimental electronics, video or even objects, form the musical core, with compositions provided by likeminded musicians or themselves.  

Several Hyper programmes already stand for the unconventional approach to traditional concert formats, bearing titles like Hyper Cut, Hyper Stuck, Hyper Fuzz oder Hyper Rift.

 


Hyper Rift, Trailer ©Musikfestival Bern 2020

 

Hyper Rift, for example, consisted in a light and sound installation controlled by seismographic data at the Bern 2020 Music Festival. During a live performance inside Bern’s Monbijou Bridge, the duo, together with video artist Pascal Meury, made tectonic shifts audible and tangible. With percussion and synthesizer, they also pushed the volume to a limit just tolerable.  

In Hyper Temper, a trio programme with percussionist Miguel Angel Garcia Martin, the two questioned the grand piano as instrument for its role in the music business, music history, but also as an everyday life object. In Cathy van Eck’s ‘pièce d’ameublement‘, it became an ornamental plant-bearing piece of furniture and thus symbol of bourgeois lifestyle in the 19th century.   

 

In Hyper Grid, the two now perform again on their core instruments – amplified piano, drumset and electronics – as a follow up to their previous projects Hyper Fuzz and Hyper Cut.  

Hyper Cut humorously complemented drumset, piano and electronics with video, voice and objects in new works by Simon Steen-Andersen, Sarah Nemtsov or Wolfgang Heiniger, among others.

 


Hyper Duo: Hyper Cut, Simon Steen-Andersen, difficulties putting it into practice, Video ©Hyper Duo

 

The Hyper Fuzz project, on the other hand, combined new, explicitly groovy pieces and modern classics with references to pop, rock and jazz, supplemented with electronic interludes by young Swiss sound inventor Cyrill Lim. Works by Frank Zappa, who himself combined electronic and electronic music in aesthetic projects, were heard alongside music by Stockhausen or young Lausanne composer Nicolas von Ritter. The programme was performed in classical concert halls and festivals as well as in rock and jazz clubs.

 


Hyper Duo / Hyper Fuzz @Taktlos Festival Zürich 2018, Video ©Hyper Duo

In the new project, Hyper Duo deepens its collaboration with two artists:
Serbian composer Marko Nikodijevic, who joins them himself on electronics for the world premiere of his grid/index [ I ] for the Hyper Duo. In his works, Nikodijevic likes to combine traditional instruments with digital sounds, using techno and pop techniques. Grid / index [ I ] is based on a work of the same name by artist Carsten Nicolai, a huge collection of drawings of two-dimensional grids and patterns. Nikodijevic translates the reference into simple rhythmic and melodic patterns reminiscent of the so-called ‘minimal techno’ of the 90s.  

 

Portrait Kevin Juillerat © zVg Kevin Juillerat

 

Kevin Juillerat, composer from Lausanne, refers to Nikodijevic in his work L’Être-On. His piece is based on a text by the surreal poet Antonin Artaud from a radio programme the artist produced himself in the 1940s. Juillerat explores the analogy between poetry and sound, creating a rhythmic, electronics-infused half-hour ‘mini-oratorio’.

 


Kevin Juillerat, le vent d’orages lointains, for piano and strings, UA 2018

 

 

The two experimental musicians from the French-speaking part of Switzerland never fail to offer subversively funny but also musically poetic programmes, which is plain to see in their numerous videos. Whether hyper hyper can still be intensified is best determined live in the new programme Hyper Grid, on June 2, at the Gare du Nord and from November onwards at several other venues. Especially since live concerts are now possible again, after such a long time.  
Gabrielle Weber

 

Hyper Duo © 2020 Pablo Fernandez. Bienne, le 21 novembre 2020. HyperDuo, séance vinyl 02

The Gare du Nord – Bahnhof für Neue Musik Basel invites ensembles from the French-speaking part of Switzerland during three seasons for the Focus Romandie series. Hyper Grid is the third and last programme of this first season.  

The new works “L’Être-On” for amplified piano, percussion, voice and effect pedals by Kevin Juillerat and “grid/index [ I ]” for drumset, piano and electronics by Marko Nikodijevic will be premiered.  

 

Concerts
2.6. 21 Gare du Nord Basel
4.11.21 IGNM Zürich
17.12.21 Salle Farel, Bienne

Indigne de nous, Hyper Duo’s first studio album will be released on June 5, 2021 by Everest Records

 

Marko Nikodijevic, Frank Zappa, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Carsten Nicolai, Antonin Artaud, Sarah Nemtsov, Wolfgang HeinigerMiguel Angel Garcia Martin

neo-Profiles:
HYPER DUOKevin Juillerat, Gilles Grimaitre, Julien Mégroz, Cathy van Eck, Simon Steen-Andersen, Cyrill Lim, Nicolas von Ritter, Gare du Nord