Finding her own universe

Cécile Marti is one of the most outstanding protagonists of contemporary music in Switzerland. In her work, the composer and sculptor tries to combine different forms of expression to make an impressive separate entity. In the near future, hopefully ballet will also be added to the dialogue between sound and sculpture. FONDATION SUISA is supporting the artistic vision of this Zurich resident with a Carte Blanche grant of 80,000 Swiss francs. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Cécile Marti: Finding her own universe

Carte Blanche for Cécile Marti. (Photo: Suzie Maeder)

Under normal circumstances, it is true to say that people should separate the work of art from its creator. In Cécile Marti’s case, this is hardly possible, because one single day in her life not only compelled her to bury her great dream, but ultimately, after a long period of heartache, took her down the path leading to artistic success today.

The uncompromisingness with which the now 45-year old from Zurich follows her artistic vision, was also quite distinct as a young girl: “From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a violinist. A violinist and nothing else.” She started playing the violin at eight years of age, closely followed by the piano. One thing became clear when she heard violinist Bettina Boller at a concert: “I wanted to have lessons from her.” Faith can move mountains, so the young Cécile became the only one receiving private tuition.“This period was like some kind of musical earthquake for me”, raves Marti. “Bettina Boller brought me closer to new music. When I was 12, I heard Alfred Schnittke, after which it definitely became clear to me: I had to go to the conservatory and the violin would become my sole focus in life.”

It’s all over

Marti lowers her eyes for a few seconds, before carrying on with her story: “At 17, I started teaching myself and at 18, the conservatory and orchestral projects from Mahler to Bruckner followed. It was splendid. Then I hit 20 and disaster struck!” Marti suffered a stroke and became paralysed down one side of her body. Overnight: it was all over. “I refused to accept it and tried every conceivable therapy over a period of three years. I fought it until I had run out of strength.”

Marti banished the violin to the loft and would not listen to music for five years. “The wound was far too great.” During this period, as she puts it herself, she felt like she was “lost in the desert”. Until one particular moment when her subconscious started talking to her. “I suddenly heard music inside me. And I then began to write it out. That was the start of my career as a composer.”

She began her studies in composition with Dieter Ammann and for the first time encountered the concept of responses to the passage of time. Meeting the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas during her studies suddenly opened up a new dimension to her when it came to developing her own work. In contrast to Amman, Haas practised a method for dealing with the passage of time that was previously unknown to Marti. “It allows an undetermined amount of time for an idea, until the point at which it is fully exhausted. And then this idea slowly attaches itself to another one. This slow way of handling things fascinated me. And from it come a completely different way of hearing things and sense of time.”

Sculptural hearing

With hindsight, it is certainly no accident that Marti felt herself captivated by the possibilities offered by the most varied of responses to the passage of time. And it is most likely not by chance that she started her work as a sculptor at the same time that she started composing music. The period of her life precipitously interrupted by the stroke, which ultimately led to something new, and the natural stone, which was transformed into a perfect sculpture thanks to lots of strength, perseverance and willpower, undeniably link the dialectics between biography and artistic debate.

It also explains the path taken by Marti, which is quite different to the notion of a traditional career. “Under normal circumstances, you are commissioned by someone to compose a piece. I predominantly followed by own ideas”, she declares affirmatively. Right from the beginning, her doctorate supervisor in London expressed concern about her composition plans (Marti obtained her PhD with a thesis on musical responses to the passage of time). “He said: ‘What you have written is like a shot in the dark’”, she explains smiling.“‘You’ll probably not find an orchestra willing to play it.’” He was referring to the orchestral cycle “Seven Towers” in 7 parts, for 120 musicians and lasting 80 minutes which SOBS (the Symphony Orchestra of Biel & Solothurn) premièred in 2016 in Biel/Bienne and since its genesis has also been played by the Bern Symphony Orchestra, Geneva Camerata and the Basel Sinfonietta.

In this breathtaking (in its truest sense) work, the orchestra as a whole reminds you of a sculpture which can be experienced in many different ways. “People say to me that when they listen to my music, they feel sculptural and in fact I think it is very gestural and formative. I am fond of the idea that people can view things from the most varied perspectives and that there actually exists an interaction between my sculpture work and my compositions.”

“The greatest gift”

Cécile Marti wants to expand this interaction with a new project, namely a ballet. The idea came to her three years ago when she saw the choreography of the Canadian, Crystal Pite, in a London theatre. “It was like a lightning strike for me”, enthuses Marti. “Up to that point in time, I had never seen a dance performance where I immediately had the feeling that I wanted to cooperate with this choreographer.” According to Marti, Pite does with dance exactly what she does with music. “She also works in a sculptural manner and with the aid of large groups. She then forms this mass in all conceivable directions.”

The fact that Pite was keen on the project, but as the shooting star of the dance scene is fully booked up until 2026, has not put Marti off following up the idea. During her music-free period, she filled dozens of diaries, which are not only the legacy of a gloomy time, but which also describe the start of a new life. This writing should form the basis for a dramatic autobiographical ballet, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

Whether or not, in the case of the ballet, the first part of which had been premièred in concert in Warsaw in September 2019, or the second string quartet, which premièred in the same month and the title of which was “Sculpted in stone”, already point to the presence of 26 stone sculptures, the manifestation of the passage of time stands centre stage of Marti’s work, which is both creative and exploratory. Consequently, she is continuing working on the “Seven Towers” concept to make this also physically experienceable in sculptural form in future.

The Carte Blanche award from FONDATION SUISA will now make it possible for her to further develop this objective without any pressure. “Quite simply, Carte Blanche funding is the best gift you can ever imagine”, she enthuses. “I pursue ideas with my heart, even though they might actually look unpopular on paper. However, my work has to be precise in terms of content and as authentic as possible. And as a result, time pressure is of no consequence where I am concerned.”

The great misfortune, which struck Marti at just 20 years of age, must have felt like a black hole into which all matter disappeared. Far more impressive is the “big bang” which took place after years of darkness, and out of which she created a completely new, unique universe which had not by a long shot been researched in every nook and cranny.

www.cecilemarti.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. “Carte Blanche” funding of 80,000 Swiss francs, which is not announced, but awarded once every two years directly by a panel of experts, is aimed at enabling music makers to concentrate on their further artistic development without any financial pressure.

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Cécile Marti is one of the most outstanding protagonists of contemporary music in Switzerland. In her work, the composer and sculptor tries to combine different forms of expression to make an impressive separate entity. In the near future, hopefully ballet will also be added to the dialogue between sound and sculpture. FONDATION SUISA is supporting the artistic vision of this Zurich resident with a Carte Blanche grant of 80,000 Swiss francs. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Cécile Marti: Finding her own universe

Carte Blanche for Cécile Marti. (Photo: Suzie Maeder)

Under normal circumstances, it is true to say that people should separate the work of art from its creator. In Cécile Marti’s case, this is hardly possible, because one single day in her life not only compelled her to bury her great dream, but ultimately, after a long...read more

“The Director’s Blog” – “We want to make our work more visible”

The FONDATION SUISA, a non-profit foundation, has been promoting the latest Swiss music creations since 1989. You can read about how this is done in detail in the newly launched “Director’s Blog”. Foundation Director Urs Schnell wishes to increase the “visibility of our activities” by doing so. Guest contribution by Rudolf Amstutz

FONDATION SUISA: “The Director’s Blog”

It is the aim of “The Director’s Blog” to make the activities of the FONDATION SUISA more comprehensible for the public.. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

What exactly does a foundation such as the FONDATION SUISA do? A general summary of its activities may well be included on its website, but what does its work actually look like on an everyday basis? What happens to roughly CHF 2.7m which is allocated to the foundation by the Cooperative Society SUISA each year – an amount which corresponds with 2.5% of the SUISA income from performing and broadcasting rights in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein? And how does the support and promotion affect various levels in the end?

“This question has been put to us repeatedly over the last few years”, Urs Schnell says. “In a world which may well be dominated by social media but presents itself with an increasing breakdown in terms of solidarity, we realised that the diversity of our activities is hardly perceived in its whole spectrum. How then”, adds Schnell, “can a foundation communicate in an open and transparent manner with a society whose perception has drastically changed, not least because of digitisation?”

A blog with insights into the foundation activities

“The Director’s Blog”, is now increasing the internet presence and at the same time personalising the activities of the foundation through the Director whose role as a blogger acts as a mouthpiece for the organisation. “We turn the inside out”, Schnell explains the decision, “and we do this in times of individualisation in a more personal manner than we have done this so far.”

It is the blog’s objective to convey the latest activities more quickly and in a more current way without adapting to the hectic superficial character of social media. The background thus turns into the foreground: “We visualise the in-depth work and the thoughts and strategies which are behind it in order to make our work more comprehensible to the public.”

The Director as internal chronicler

This happens with regular contributions on current events about the presence of the foundation at international and national level but also as food for thought for topics relevant to the foundation, or with portraits of recipients of work contributions that have a magazine character. “For the latter, I shall permit myself to publish a guest contribution from time to time”, says Schnell. And adds: “The authenticity is an elementary part of the blog, that is why it would not be very credible if I left my role as an internal chronicler.”

In any case, the Director is looking forward to coming feedback relating to the new vessel. And should “The Director’s Blog” become a cause for passionate discussions “that would be even better” according to Schnell.

blog.fondation-suisa.ch

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The FONDATION SUISA, a non-profit foundation, has been promoting the latest Swiss music creations since 1989. You can read about how this is done in detail in the newly launched “Director’s Blog”. Foundation Director Urs Schnell wishes to increase the “visibility of our activities” by doing so. Guest contribution by Rudolf Amstutz

FONDATION SUISA: “The Director’s Blog”

It is the aim of “The Director’s Blog” to make the activities of the FONDATION SUISA more comprehensible for the public.. (Photo: FONDATION SUISA)

What exactly does a foundation such as the FONDATION SUISA do? A general summary of its activities may well be included on its website, but what does its work actually look like on an everyday basis? What happens to roughly CHF 2.7m which is allocated to the foundation by the Cooperative Society SUISA each year – an...read more

The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo, made up of Zurich and Winterthur residents Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, experiments with sounds that defy established definitions and seeks out interdisciplinary exchanges with other art forms. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Eclecta: The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo. (Photo: Andrea Ebener)

The place where verbal definitions of different arts implode; where stylistic pigeon-holes exist only as relics of past times; where everything can unfold freely and continually move into more and more new arrangements: that is precisely where Eclecta feel at home. Eclecta is a duo featuring Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, both of whom are solo artists, multi-instrumentalists and singers. And both are, as they describe themselves, “quite simply curious”. Which is something of an understatement. An unadulterated passion for experimentation is their driving force. Although in their late twenties, the couple have not forgotten their youthful enthusiasm, but combine it with mature reflection and are therefore better able to integrate additional elements into their art, which means the result always remains homogeneous.

Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher got to know one another at jazz school, but it was actually the second time they had met. “We had already met as children in the (childrenʼs circus school) ʻCircolino Pipistrelloʼ”, says Bollinger. Whitcher laughs, adding: “But we only found out later that this was the case.” You cannot escape fate, so what was bound to happen inevitably did: “When Marena was asked to do a solo concert, she didnʼt have enough material to be able to fulfil the booking on her own. So she asked me. We then amalgamated our songs, which proved to be the start of everything”, recounts Bollinger.

Their first album from 2016 is called “A Symmetry”, and the play on words concealed in this title says it all, both women are in fact actually confident individuals when it comes to their manner and their art, who have been happy to tread their own path in a large number of collaborations and solo performances. “From the very start, we played two characters that are totally different. Eclecta thrives on this duality, this asymmetry, but at the same time we also have the opportunity to melt into one another”, explains Whitcher, to which Bollinger adds: “We can blend our voices, so that people can hardly distinguish one from the other. The album title describes this ongoing interplay between symmetry and asymmetry.”

The 15 songs, which, as previously mentioned, refuse to be pigeon-holed and deliberately map the stylistic spaces which contribute to the experiment, when added together become an opalescent kaleidoscope of euphoria and melancholy, of passion and thoughtfulness. And listeners still find “A Symmetry” astounding even three years after it first appeared, allowing more and more details to be unveiled: for the protagonists, today the record represents only a snapshot of their artistic process. “On our forthcoming album, which we hope to release at the beginning of 2020, we want to advance this play even further, so that the whole thing continues to become more intermeshed.”

“The Get Going! funding gives us something very precious, namely time. Apart from that, you are never paid for the immensely long period of time it takes to get to grips with specific topics, and to research and write songs.”

What this will sound like, reckon the duo with a wink, “currently remains a secret”. When they talk of their influences, they range from social issues to painting, from theatre to performance art, from literature to philosophy. Whitcher, who has American roots on her fatherʼs side, is enthusiastic about the surrealists and, during her performances, goes into such questions as “What are monsters nowadays and why do we need them?” or “Having first world problems and creating art – do they go together?”. It is also important to Bollinger to integrate political and social topicality into her creative work. Consequently, she writes about such issues as climate change, freedom of thought and digitisation, as well as searching for places where numbers and codes do not control us. She splits her time between Zurich, Berlin and her Engadine homeland, trying to capture the sounds of these different places, because, as she says, “it is crucial where you are when you are creatively active”.

One of these creative playgrounds is also the stage. With instruments and costumes she makes herself, she transforms a performance into a kind of complete artwork. Therefore, in future they want to make increased use of the medium of video in order to lend a visual aspect to their music. But this is only one of what seems like a thousand ideas with which these two musicians are busy. In the end, Eclecta should also be a statement that contradicts the zeitgeist: “In our individualised society, everyone is focused entirely on themselves, never once glancing at what is going on around them.” Whitcher believes “Yet community is a basic requirement of humans”, and Bollinger adds: “I already see it as one of our jobs to reflect the world in our art and to encourage a different way of thinking.”

In any event, they regard the Get Going! funding from FONDATION SUISA as something that offers them a great deal of freedom. “It gives us something very precious, namely time”, comments Bollinger. “Precisely”, emphasises Whitcher, “apart from that, you are never paid for the immensely long period of time it takes to get to grips with specific topics, and to research and write songs”. When you look at it this way, Eclecta is a fine example of this kind of encouragement, because both of these young ladies are venturing down paths that so far remain untrodden and now no longer risk falling between two stools with their passion for experimentation.

www.eclecta.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding.

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The Eclecta duo, made up of Zurich and Winterthur residents Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, experiments with sounds that defy established definitions and seeks out interdisciplinary exchanges with other art forms. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Eclecta: The result of an endless passion for experimentation

The Eclecta duo. (Photo: Andrea Ebener)

The place where verbal definitions of different arts implode; where stylistic pigeon-holes exist only as relics of past times; where everything can unfold freely and continually move into more and more new arrangements: that is precisely where Eclecta feel at home. Eclecta is a duo featuring Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, both of whom are solo artists, multi-instrumentalists and singers. And both are, as they describe themselves, “quite simply curious”. Which is something of an understatement. An unadulterated passion...read more

Travelling with and inside a space

Place, time and space play a pivotal role in the works of composer, Beat Gysin. In his six-part “Lightweight building series”, he designs spaces specially for the music, enabling him to confront his audience with shifting tonal and spatial experiences. The second part of his elaborate project is due to be brought to fruition from 2021. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Beat Gysin: Travelling with and inside a space

The Basel composer Beat Gysin in a photo taken in 2010. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

Chemistry and music: do they go together? What initially appears to be a contradiction in terms makes complete sense in Beat Gysin’s biography. Although he grew up in a family of musicians, Gysin took the decision to study chemistry as well as composition and music theory. The scientific approach and empirical evaluation of an experimental approach are just as important to him as the musical element. “I never wanted to be famous because of my music. I always wanted to find answers with my music and within it”, explains the 50-year-old Basel resident.

His catalogue of works is impressive. Even more impressive, however, is the way in which he brings his compositions to the performance stage. Gysin moves systematically beyond duplication and sound recording. Place, time and above all space are obligatory elements in his performance technique. In this respect, Gysin is far more than “just” a composer and musician. If you are to ultimately understand the Gysin Universe, you must firstly apply such definitions as researcher, architect, facilitator and philosopher.

“I am actually a philosopher at heart”, he adds. “It’s a matter of awareness, and I notice that the space in which music is performed has lost importance in its overall perception. Nowadays, people regard the music as being detached from its performance”, he adds and in so doing refers to a key point in his work: the systematic interplay between space and sound. “If you take one of my pieces out of the space, then this is almost as if you were creating a piano solo from an orchestral work. You know the notes, but do not hear the orchestra.”

With remarkable consistency, meticulousness and a passion for experimentation, in his many projects Gysin again and again plumbs the depths of the complex interplay between space, sound and the resulting perception of his music. The performance space becomes part of the artwork, which ultimately not only offers the audience a completely new sensory experience, but Gysin also repeatedly delivers new perceptions, in order to subsequently create yet another new approach to his next project. “I want to find things. And invent”, is how he describes what drives him artistically in an almost laconic manner. In this respect, he does not necessarily take centre-stage as the composer, but often “only” as the conceptual leader. In order to encourage an exchange of ideas, he set up the Basel studio-klangraum recording space and founded the ZeitRäume Basel festival.

“If you take one of my pieces out of the space, then this is almost as if you were creating a piano solo from an orchestral work. You know the notes, but do not hear the orchestra.”

Whether in churches with their varying acoustic properties, in empty waterworks with an echo lasting anything up to 30 seconds or in decommissioned mines where almost perfect silence prevails: Gysin keeps on discovering new spaces that can be mapped acoustically. And anywhere there is no natural space available allowing him to move forward, they are architecturally designed. The six-part “Lightweight building series” is not only one of Gysin’s key works because of the expenditure involved. It also represents the next logical step for him: creating spaces that can be transported. Here we are dealing with six abstract space designs, implemented as pieces of architecture in the form of pavilions, which provide unusual listening situations and therefore facilitate a new kind of awareness of the music. “Chronos” comprised a revolving stage like a carousel and in the case of “Gitter” the musicians were arranged “spherically” around the audience. Where “Haus” is concerned, sound space walks around existing houses were made possible and in “Rohre” (Pipes), which will take place shortly (world premiere in September 2019 in the inner courtyard of the Kunstmuseum Basel (Basel Museum of Art) as part of the ZeitRäume Basel festival), the audience and musicians meet each other in the literal sense of the word, in other words in pipes you can walk inside.

“In the concluding two parts from 2023”, Gysin comments, “I would like to investigate the question of mobile set-ups and their influence on hearing. In the case of one of the projects, the musicians and audience sit on little trolleys that never stop moving. Everything remains on the move and the space is constantly redefined. And as regards the last part, it is a question of a suspended space which implodes again and again like a balloon, but can then be re-inflated.” Such elaborate projects are not easy for an artist to finance. “We are dependent on support right from the initial conception, and that costs money”, he states in full awareness, adding: “the Get Going! grant from FONDATION SUISA is the perfect answer to this challenge. It is a kind of way of financing feasibility studies. Up to now this has not existed in this form.”

In times where culture has to be “eventised”, in that marketing experts pay more attention to form than content, the “Lightweight building series” also symbolises a kind of artistic counter-movement. “The advantage is that I, as the artist, conceive the event as a whole”, says Gysin, also commenting: “As a musician, today you are obliged in a world of sensory overload to deal with the location of the music, because it can no longer be understood if taken out of context.”

www.beatgysin.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding.

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Place, time and space play a pivotal role in the works of composer, Beat Gysin. In his six-part “Lightweight building series”, he designs spaces specially for the music, enabling him to confront his audience with shifting tonal and spatial experiences. The second part of his elaborate project is due to be brought to fruition from 2021. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Beat Gysin: Travelling with and inside a space

The Basel composer Beat Gysin in a photo taken in 2010. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

Chemistry and music: do they go together? What initially appears to be a contradiction in terms makes complete sense in Beat Gysin’s biography. Although he grew up in a family of musicians, Gysin took the decision to study chemistry as well as composition and music...read more

“Orchestral spaces” or if music becomes spatially tangible when you listen to it

In his work, composer Michael Künstle deals with the interplay between tonal dramatisation and dramatic tones. The 27-year-old Basel resident would now like to take the next step forward in his research by making the sound of an orchestra a spatial experience for the listener. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Michael Kuenstle: “Orchestral spaces” or if music becomes spatially tangible when you listen to it

The composer Michael Künstle (left) from Basel at work in the recording studio. (Photo: Oliver Hochstrasser)

Michael Künstle was completely surprised to win the International Film Music Competition in the 2012 Zurich Film Festival when he was just 21. “At that time, I had just begun my studies”, he comments today, adding, “I am only just starting to understand the significance of this prize now. It was a kind of springboard, also because it has always been an award for competence that nobody can take away from you”.

In the competition, Künstle was up against 144 fellow composers from 27 countries who were all set exactly the same task: composing the score for the short animated film “Evermore” by Philip Hofmänner. Anyone watching the film today can imagine what might have impressed the jury back then: Künstle came up with amazingly subtle sounds, which enhanced the story of the film.

“The fantastic thing about film music is that it is the result of a close exchange with others. A film represents an interplay between countless people and it is vital to take all aspects into consideration: camera work, use of colour and setting”, is the way Künstle explains his fascination with the genre. “The biggest challenge in a film is to say something with the music which has not yet been said in words or pictures, but which is essential for telling the story right up to the end.”

Whether it is in Gabriel Baur’s “Glow”, “Sohn meines Vaters” by Jeshua Dreyfus or “Cadavre Exquis” by Viola von Scarpatetti: the list of films for which Künstle is responsible for the soundtrack keeps on getting longer. The enthusiasm with which Künstle expresses his specialist know-how and thirst for knowledge in conversation is contagious. Also if he is talking about the greats in this field: Bernard Hermann’s knowledge of composition, for instance, or the unique capability of John Williams, “whose works clearly sound like orchestral pieces when listened to without the film, even though they suit the film for which they were written perfectly. This is incredibly difficult to accomplish, because symphonic music traditionally allows closer narrative structures than a film”.

“In contemporary music, the space is often just as important as other compositional elements, such as the subject matter or rhythm, but this essential aspect is often lost in the recording.”

Although he differentiates between concert music and film scores in his own work, he admits “that you can never fully give up one if you do the other”. Elements that he developed in collaboration with director Gabriel Baur for the film “Glow” found their way into the piece “Résonance”, performed by Trio Eclipse in 2016. “But in my concert music, it is mainly a question of compositional forms and structural ideas that cannot be expressed in the film.”

The idea for the project, that FONDATION SUISA is now going to jointly finance with a Get Going! grant, ultimately arose from another important aspect of Künstle’s creativity. Künstle follows, as he emphasises, a philosophy of the “real” which is as close as possible to an actual recital, thanks to the most up-to-date recording techniques. In collaboration with his working partner, Daniel Dettwiler, who owns the “Idee und Klang” (Idea and Sound) studio in Basel, and who, for years, has been researching new recording techniques, Künstle would like to create a spatial composition that can be listened to in a way that had not existed before.

“In contemporary music, the space is often just as important as other compositional elements, such as the subject matter or rhythm, but this essential aspect is often lost in the recording”, is the way he explains the starting point. “I want to reach a point where people listening on headphones hear the three-dimensional space occupied by the orchestra during recording, as if they could literally ‘feel’ the music.” For many years, this research and in a specific way also the conquest of these “orchestral spaces”, was just an idea for Künstle, because, as he stresses, “You can only make this happen in a studio with the best possible sound and the best microphones available”.

Thanks to Get Going!, the next step in this audiophile revolution can now become a reality and in no-less than London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios with an 80-piece orchestra. Therefore, Künstle will compose a piece in which the space where the recording takes place will play a central role. “I want to turn the composition process on its head”, is how he underscores the objective of his project. “Just like film music”, he adds. Again here, first and foremost you start with what you hear. Therefore completing the circle.

www.michaelkuenstle.ch

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding.

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In his work, composer Michael Künstle deals with the interplay between tonal dramatisation and dramatic tones. The 27-year-old Basel resident would now like to take the next step forward in his research by making the sound of an orchestra a spatial experience for the listener. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Michael Kuenstle: “Orchestral spaces” or if music becomes spatially tangible when you listen to it

The composer Michael Künstle (left) from Basel at work in the recording studio. (Photo: Oliver Hochstrasser)

Michael Künstle was completely surprised to win the International Film Music Competition in the 2012 Zurich Film Festival when he was just 21. “At that time, I had just begun my studies”, he comments today, adding, “I am only just starting to understand the significance of this prize now. It was a kind of springboard,...read more

“Get Going!” goes into its second round: “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age”

Last year, FONDATION SUISA awarded four innovation grants under the title “Get Going!” for the first time in order to promote groundbreaking creative concepts outside the usual boxes. The positive reactions that were received were overwhelming. At the end of June 2019, the call for contributions enters its second round. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: “Get Going!” goes into its second round: “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age”

The recipients of the “Get Going!” contributions 2018 (from top left to bottom right): Beat Gysin, the Duo Eclecta, Michael Künstle and Bertrand Denzler. (Photos: Anna Katharina Scheidegger; Andrea Ebener; Zak van Biljon; Rui Pinheiro)

Urs Schnell, Managing Director of FONDATION SUISA, explained the new promotion policy resolved by the foundation council, a year ago: “Instead of patting an artist on the shoulder by awarding them a prize after their success, we invest the money we have available with a focus on the future.” He adds: “Promotion instead of judgement is the goal, and as such, one would “want to increase the focus towards what lies ahead.”

No sooner said than done. The first invitation to bid for “Get Going!” led to more than 90 contributions. Such a significant interest for something completely new was simply overwhelming for him, Schnell adds. “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age. Even though we did not expect it in such a degree since such an openly formulated invitation for contributions was, despite all analyses, an innovative shot in the dark.”

Bertrand Denzler, Michael Künstle, Beat Gysin and the Duo Eclecta (Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher) were the first recipients in the context of “Get Going!”. The amount of CHF 25,000 each was attributed to them because they were able to convince the expert jury with their creative visions. Since this start-up funding is not linked to a result, it enables musicians to work without any financial or time pressure. “I believe that the time factor in an ever more hectic environment has become a goods which must not be underestimated in terms of its preciousness”, Schnell mentions in the context of one of the advantages of “Get Going!”.

Invitation to tender of “Get Going!” 2019 from the end of June

From the end of June, authors and musicians who can prove that they have a clear relation to current music creation in Switzerland or Liechtenstein, can apply to contribute to “Get Going!” again. In 2019, another four of such start-up fundings are awarded by the expert jury amounting to CHF 25,000 again.

It is important to mention that “Get Going!” does not compete with or affect any other support projects by FONDATION SUISA, in particular the current application system, existing partnerships, exhibitions and events abroad or the playing of music in classrooms.

Schnell elaborates: “On the contrary, the new model is, in terms of providing an important start-up support, a supplement to the existing types of promotion. We wish to explore new creative places and prevent in future that certain projects fall through the cracks.”

Urs Schnell knows that the “Get Going!” invitation to tender may be a bit confusing at the outset due to its formulation which has been kept wide open: “Musicians ere conditioned throughout the last few decades by way of the traditional promotional instruments to develop a certain application behaviour. With the new direction, we are trying to move towards the artists as a supporter and with this reversal to push the free creative thinking back into the focus of attention.” In order to point out the possibilities of “Get Going!”, recipients of last year´s “Get Going!” grants are published on the FONDATION SUISA website as well as the SUISAblog portrait.

www.fondation-suisa.ch

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Last year, FONDATION SUISA awarded four innovation grants under the title “Get Going!” for the first time in order to promote groundbreaking creative concepts outside the usual boxes. The positive reactions that were received were overwhelming. At the end of June 2019, the call for contributions enters its second round. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: “Get Going!” goes into its second round: “We definitely have our fingers on the pulse of our age”

The recipients of the “Get Going!” contributions 2018 (from top left to bottom right): Beat Gysin, the Duo Eclecta, Michael Künstle and Bertrand Denzler. (Photos: Anna Katharina Scheidegger; Andrea Ebener; Zak van Biljon; Rui Pinheiro)

Urs Schnell, Managing Director of FONDATION SUISA, explained the new promotion policy resolved by the foundation council, a year ago: “Instead of patting an artist on the shoulder by awarding them a prize after their success, we invest the money we have available with...read more

Sound space surveyor and ambient sound explorer

Saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is always working on new opportunities to express himself in the delicate balance that lies between improvisation and composition. The 55-year-old musician from Geneva, who is now resident in Paris, now intends to extend the frontiers of his artistic dialogue with others even further using “roaming residencies”. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Bertrand Denzler: Sound space surveyor and ambient sound explorer

Bertrand Denzler (Photo: Dmitry Shubin)

“Tireless”, “adaptable” and “industrious” are just three words that could be used to characterise the artistic craft of Bertrand Denzler. Anyone checking out his website for the first time could be forgiven for thinking the sheer number of projects and line-ups might be their kiss-of-death. Denzler laughs: “I’ve laid the whole thing out somewhat more clearly in the meantime.” In fact: on second glance, it all makes sense. And anyone taking the next step of dipping into the sounds available online will hardly be able to resist Denzler’s artistic vision. At first, the finely balanced sound sculptures seem to reveal a welcoming kind of simplicity. But in the background lurks a complexity with a tremendous pulling effect that is almost hypnotic.

“My compositions are not primarily about the narrative form, but the inner structure. This means my pieces might seem relatively simple, but they are not easy to play. The musician should not be distracted by far too many ideas, but should be able to concentrate fully on the sound and its precision,” is the way Denzler explains his intentions.

He classifies his process-orientated compositions as “spaces”. For the most part, they do not feature traditional notation, but are predetermined by their structure. “I want musicians to be involved and have to think for themselves”, stresses Denzler. He adds: “Often it is just the time structure that is specified, and not the rhythmic structure. The predetermined rules always open up lots of opportunities.”

Denzler practises this “space surveying” with the simultaneous exploration of the ambient sound with very different line-ups, including the Sowari Trio, Hubbub, Denzler-Gerbal-Dörner, The Seen, Onceim and Denzler-Grip-Johansson. At the same time, he is not averse to trying new things, including improvising as a guest musician in such line-ups as Jonas Kocher’s international Šalter Ensemble, in a duo with Hans Koch or quite simply solo.

Denzler actually considers his career to be somewhat typical of a European musician of his generation. He started out with classical music, but at the same time was listening to pop and rock in private. However, an outright thirst for knowledge also made him aware relatively quickly of the most varied ways in this world that music can be played. “And eventually”, comments Denzler, “jazz became my main sphere of activity, because improvisation, in other words implementing your thoughts in real time, fascinated me”.

After jazz came free-form music, even if Denzler is still to this day impressed by the philosophy and improvisational approach of such greats as Albert Ayler and John Coltrane and will probably continue to be influenced by them. As opposed to many improvisers who never return (if they have occasionally diverted from a compositional approach), Denzler has found a space where he can keep creating new things architecturally from the delicate balance between improvisation and composition. “In the last ten years, I acquired the feeling that I am always improvising in the same system. Suddenly, I once gain felt compelled to build structures within my music.”

Denzler’s artistic vision is not only a kind of journey of discovery in a metaphorical sense: he wants to transport this “space” to different geographical locations as a “roaming residency”, so as to meet other musicians there and create new music with them. Up to now, the project has failed, not only for financial reasons, but also because such an open project does not comply with the general conditions of traditional subsidies policies. Start-up funding from a FONDATION SUISA Get Going! grant is now making realisation possible, because, according to Denzler, “… it allows me to pursue my creativity instead of predefined conditions”. Beaming with delight, he adds that it’s as if this grant had been specially tailored for him. And in fact his definition almost reminds you of a Denzler composition, in which the structures defined by the creator open up unforeseen possibilities …

www.bertranddenzler.com

FONDATION SUISA started awarding new grants in 2018. Under the heading of “Get Going!”, creative and artistic processes that do not fall within established categories are given a financial jump-start. Our Portrait Series profiles recipients of Get Going! funding.

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Saxophonist Bertrand Denzler is always working on new opportunities to express himself in the delicate balance that lies between improvisation and composition. The 55-year-old musician from Geneva, who is now resident in Paris, now intends to extend the frontiers of his artistic dialogue with others even further using “roaming residencies”. FONDATION SUISA is supporting this project financially with Get Going! funding. Text by guest author Rudolf Amstutz

Bertrand Denzler: Sound space surveyor and ambient sound explorer

Bertrand Denzler (Photo: Dmitry Shubin)

“Tireless”, “adaptable” and “industrious” are just three words that could be used to characterise the artistic craft of Bertrand Denzler. Anyone checking out his website for the first time could be forgiven for thinking the sheer number of projects and line-ups might be their kiss-of-death. Denzler laughs: “I’ve laid the whole thing out somewhat more clearly in the meantime.” In fact:...read more

Attendance at IKF opens up new prospects for Swiss musicians

The FONDATION SUISA and Pro Helvetia presented their joint stand under the banner “Swiss Music” for the first time at the 31st Internationale Kulturbörse in Freiburg, Germany. The results have been positive. Text by Urs Schnell, FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: Attendance at IKF opens up new prospects for Swiss musicians

Mich Gerber appears at the 2019 Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Last year, the Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg (IKF) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a Swiss focus. The FONDATION SUISA went along to see whether the most important trade fair in the German-speaking region for stage production, music and events would be the right place for Swiss musicians to be represented. There were repeated suggestions from the music scene that this could give rise to new performance opportunities on German stages and in small venues.

For years, the FONDATION SUISA has been involved in foreign music showcase festivals and music trade fairs, with the aim of promoting networking between the domestic music scene and international promoters and agencies. Following an in-depth assessment of the IKF’s potential, it thus seemed an obvious choice to implement the successful concept of a joint Swiss stand from 20 to 23 January this year in Freiburg for the first time.

Over the three days, the “Swiss Music” stand – in collaboration with Pro Helvetia – allowed artists and their agencies to connect with the vibrant promoter scene and, in particular, to meet promoters who operate outside the usual music network. Exchange with the Swiss music scene could especially open up new prospects for small theatres relying on a varied programme of fringe events.

Our joint stand allowed musicians and agencies to present themselves to a wide audience without having to hire their own expensive stand, allowing them to take maximum advantage of the IKF as a communication platform, marketplace and a place for development. Many saw the fact that IKF is not merely a music trade fair as a positive, offering potential new ground. Having the ‘Swiss Music’ stand right next to the entrance to the adjoining performing arts and street theatre hall was a major boost to visibility.

A wide array of extraordinary figures also appeared live on stage, with performances from Mich Gerber, Gina Été, the Postharmonic Orchestra, Moes Anthill, Bruno Bieri and Park Stickney.

Initial feedback on the first Swiss presence in Freiburg has been extremely positive. As a key meeting point for small and mid-sized stage productions in the German-speaking region, the IKF will also open up new opportunities for Swiss musicians in future.

For more information, please visit:
ikf.swissmusic.ch and www.fondation-suisa.ch/ikf

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The FONDATION SUISA and Pro Helvetia presented their joint stand under the banner “Swiss Music” for the first time at the 31st Internationale Kulturbörse in Freiburg, Germany. The results have been positive. Text by Urs Schnell, FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: Attendance at IKF opens up new prospects for Swiss musicians

Mich Gerber appears at the 2019 Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg. (Photo: Marcel Kaufmann)

Last year, the Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg (IKF) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a Swiss focus. The FONDATION SUISA went along to see whether the most important trade fair in the German-speaking region for stage production, music and events would be the right place for Swiss musicians to be represented. There were repeated suggestions from the music scene that this could give rise to new performance opportunities on German stages and in small venues.

For years, the FONDATION SUISA has been involved in foreign music...read more

“Get Going” contributions and “Carte Blanche” awarded for the first time

As part of its new funding policy, FONDATION SUISA made four “Get Going!” and one “Carte Blanche” grants for the first time. A “Get Going!” start-up funding of CHF 25,000 each is allocated to Beat Gysin, Bertrand Denzler, Michael Künstle and the Duo Eclecta. The “Carte Blanche” amounting to CHF 80,000 is bestowed to Cécile Marti. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: “Get Going” contributions and “Carte Blanche” awarded for the first time

Composer Cécile Marti is awarded the «Carte Blanche» of FONDATION SUISA which is allocated every two years. (Photo: Ingo Höhn)

As part of its new funding policy, FONDATION SUISA intends to react quickly to the fast-changing music scene. In the “inbetween” area, i.e. away from common genre, age or project categories, creative and artistic processes take place which threaten to end up in no man’s land when it comes to the current application process.

As a consequence, four “Get Going!” contributions with CHF 25,000 each have been offered as awards in June, for the first time. “With this annual bidding process, we try to locate creative places and artistic visions which deserve to be funded” said Urs Schnell, FONDATION SUISA MD. “As a consequence, the competition is kept open deliberately.”

With more than 90 bids, the “Get Going!” contributions have had an enormous response among music creators. “The expert jury hasn’t made it too easy for itself to select four recipients from the many highly interesting bids”, Schnell adds. From the description of the artistic purposes that are now funded, it is easy to gauge what this type of start-up funding actually is all about. “At the end of the day, music is about discovering new worlds time and again, to render items audible and tangible and to fathom new perspectives” according to Schnell.

“Get Going!” contributions 2018

The composer Beat Gysin, for example, creates architectonic spaces in the course of his “Leichtbautenreihe” (series of light structures), where unusual audio situations enable the listener new ways to perceive music. Gysin thus investigates the dynamic possibilities resulting from the relationship between space, music and the recipient/listener.

“Space” is also a concept that Michael Künstle is interested in. The composer of film and concert music pairs orchestral tradition with modern innovation in terms of composition and recording in order to create a space composition which becomes accessible in the form of a three-dimensional listening experience.

Saxophonist and composer Bertrand Denzler, on the other hand, locates new compository possibilities via a deliberate non-allocation of his creations to spaces. With a “migrating residence”, he attempts an improvisatory and compository exchange with foreign cultures. The constant dialogue with ever-changing influences is intended to show the way which eventually flows into compository results.

Andrina Bollinger and Marena Whitcher, aka Duo Eclecta, are strolling through interdisciplinary terrain. The singers, performers, multi-instrumentalists, producers and composers collaborate continually with other art forms in order to create new audible, visible and sensible worlds of experience.

“Carte Blanche” to Cécile Marti

The “Carte Blanche amounting to CHF 80,000 which is not offered as part of a bidding process but directly awarded by an expert jury every other year, is intended to enable music creators to focus on their artistic progress without suffering from financial pressures.

Those who have followed the creative career of Cécile Marti over the last years know that the artist originating from Zurich is a worthy recipient of this “Carte Blanche”. Especially her orchestra cycle, “Seven Towers” in 7 parts and for 120 musicians, which had its première concert performed by the SOBS orchestra in Biel in 2016, and has since its inception also been performed by the Berne Symphony Orchestra, the Geneva Camerata and the Basel Sinfonietta, has caused a sensation.

Simultaneously, Marti graduated with a dissertation on musical time course. The “Carte Blanche” now enables her to transfer her initial research in this area into an artistic context. Explored courses of time shall be made visible with the aid of a ballet and by way of sculptures (Marti is also a stone sculptor).

www.fondation-suisa.ch

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As part of its new funding policy, FONDATION SUISA made four “Get Going!” and one “Carte Blanche” grants for the first time. A “Get Going!” start-up funding of CHF 25,000 each is allocated to Beat Gysin, Bertrand Denzler, Michael Künstle and the Duo Eclecta. The “Carte Blanche” amounting to CHF 80,000 is bestowed to Cécile Marti. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA: “Get Going” contributions and “Carte Blanche” awarded for the first time

Composer Cécile Marti is awarded the «Carte Blanche» of FONDATION SUISA which is allocated every two years. (Photo: Ingo Höhn)

As part of its new funding policy, FONDATION SUISA intends to react quickly to the fast-changing music scene. In the “inbetween” area, i.e. away from common genre, age or project categories, creative and artistic processes take place which threaten to end up in no man’s land when it comes to the current application...read more

New support strategy: “We want to look ahead”

FONDATION SUISA reinforces its activities regarding the support of music in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein: Each year, four music projects shall be launched under the motto “Get Going!”, and every other year, a bigger amount shall be allocated to works under the slogan “Carte Blanche”. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA - New support strategy: “We want to look ahead”

With its revised support policy, FONDATION SUISA intends to locate new creative places and push new projects forward where music creators can exercise their creative ideas in the most unrestricted way possible. (Photo: Alberto Andrei Rosu / Shutterstock.com)

The Foundation Council of the FONDATION SUISA decided to reorient one part of its support policy and to open it up to new perspectives. By way of these actions, the foundation intends to recognise modern requirements against Swiss music creation more. Instead of looking in the rear view mirror, it will look ahead much more in future. Four conceptual projects and one work project shall replace the previous policy of granting an award.

Urs Schnell, Managing Director of FONDATION SUISA, said: “Instead of patting an artist on the shoulder by awarding them a prize after their success, we invest the money we have available with a focus on the future instead.” He adds: “We wish to promote instead of judge and thus increase our focus towards what lies ahead of us.”

“Get Going!” supports new projects

The so-called “Get Going!” initiative is a type of start-up funding. Four “Get Going!” contributions @ CHF 25,000 each will be made available each year. Music creators may apply for a “Get Going!” subsidy from end of June 2018 onwards. What’s important is that “Get Going!” does not compete with or affect any other support projects by FONDATION SUISA, in particular the current application system, existing partnerships, exhibitions and events abroad or the playing of music in classrooms.

Schnell explains: “On the contrary, they are an important start-up support and serve as a supplement to the existing types of promotion. We want to explore new areas for creation. Especially those outside existing pigeon holes which have been established in the support policy in the past. Even though they have proved themselves to be useful, they still contributed to the fact that certain projects end up being neither here nor there.”

Financial independence thanks to the “Carte Blanche”

Rather than being subject to a bidding process, the “Carte Blanche” is instead granted every other year by a jury of experts, and it amounts to CHF 80,000. The “Carte Blanche” is intended to enable the benefiting party to completely focus on their musical activities and creations over a longer period in time. “The promotion as well as the artistic development are in the focus of a “Carte Blanche” and less the result of the work on a specific work” – this is how Schnell describes the framework of this substantial subsidy.

With both support projects, FONDATION SUISA wishes to react to the fast-changing music scenes where innovative creative concepts fail time and again because they don’t fit into the prevailing regulations. FONDATION SUISA therefore deliberately renounces on current genre, age or project categories. “Get Going!” and “Carte Blanche” shall be accessible to as many musical and creative people as possible. Schnell concludes: “Music creators shall face as little restriction in their creative ideas as possible. It is in the ‘in between’ where conventional genre definitions fail, because they fall through the grate, that we wish to become active in future as constructive promoters and supporters.”

The new support policy of FONDATION SUISA shall apply with immediate effect. The first four “Get Going!” projects with CHF 25,000 each shall be opened for application at the end of June 2018. Information on the application will then be uploaded to the website of the foundation.

www.fondation-suisa.ch

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FONDATION SUISA reinforces its activities regarding the support of music in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein: Each year, four music projects shall be launched under the motto “Get Going!”, and every other year, a bigger amount shall be allocated to works under the slogan “Carte Blanche”. Text by FONDATION SUISA

FONDATION SUISA - New support strategy: “We want to look ahead”

With its revised support policy, FONDATION SUISA intends to locate new creative places and push new projects forward where music creators can exercise their creative ideas in the most unrestricted way possible. (Photo: Alberto Andrei Rosu / Shutterstock.com)

The Foundation Council of the FONDATION SUISA decided to reorient one part of its support policy and to open it up to new perspectives. By way of these actions, the foundation intends to recognise modern requirements against Swiss music creation more. Instead of looking...read more