Getting a new music festival off the ground in Switzerland takes courage: we have a more densely packed festival calendar than almost anywhere else in the world. And, above all, you need to stand out from the crowd if you want to attract an audience.
This is exactly what the Floating Notes Festival does. Established in 2021 by composer and harpist Kety Fusco, it took place for the second time on the weekend of 22/23 July 2022. The festival seeks to push musical boundaries and showcase artists whose music is far outside the mainstream. It revolves around experimental music – and at Floating Notes, ‘experimental’ refers to instruments, as well as sounds. For example, the first iteration of the festival in 2021 saw Swiss sound artist Simon Berz play his instrument ‘Tectonic’, which he built out of resonant volcanic stones from Iceland. At this year’s festival, Bern-based composer, accordionist and sound artist Mario Batkovic followed a set on a traditional accordion with one on a ‘digital accordion’ that he made himself.
The other artists at the Floating Notes Festival also performed experimental and avant-garde music. On the first evening, Zurich-based composer and sound artist Noémi Büchi took to the stage, as did composer, artist, percussionist and winner of the Swiss Music Prize Béatrice Graf, from Western Switzerland, and the Ticino-based artists’ collective Niton (Zeno Gabaglio, El Toxyque and Luca Xelius Martegani). On the second evening, the programme included Mario Batkovic alongside Italian songwriter and musician Marta del Grandi and her co-musicians, as well as Víz, the solo project by Zurich-based composer, artist, musician and performer Réka Csiszér.
Music at the source
The location of the festival is just as non-mainstream as the music and artists it presents: it is held in the factory building at the source of San Bernardino mineral water, located 1600 metres above sea level, around 40 minutes’ drive from Bellinzona and an hour away from Chur. The Italian-speaking village in the canton of Grisons is primarily known as a tourist destination – and now the Floating Notes Festival has added a cultural attraction to its line-up.
SUISA has sponsored the festival from its inception.