Tag Archives: Composer

“As a composer, you’re always a beginner” | plus video

In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he dealt with the original song, “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once) in more detail. But that was also rather awkward, he thought the melody was strange for a folk song, and he was also missing the elegance of the “Guggisberglied” (Guggisberg song). “At the same time, though, it holds the incredible tension of the huge tonal range. Its straightforward, pulse-like nature is also rather interesting; there isn’t really a rhythm, just those quarter notes that ‘hang about’. The song therefore has a certain emptiness and thus also offers openness.” Christian Henking thus decided to base his composition on the melody of the folk song. Then he also wrote six variations, “just like Beethoven, but rather accidentally”.

Christian Henking explains that he first analysed the melody and then cut it into individual segments. “In my first four variations I regard individual segments of the song, so to speak. The last two relate to the entire song.” He therefore stayed altogether or not altogether with the material: “In the second variation, I avoid, especially when searching for this variation, all notes that occur in the original piece.”

The basic approach was to apply different work modes, respectively different principles for each variation. The concept crystallised while composing and developed further. “I knew that I wanted to compose miniatures, short variation movements. I first wrote the 5th variation. Then I realised that I did not want to begin in such a machine-like manner, and therefore did something rather unrestricted as a contrast. One consequently affected the other. And from such relativities, many interrelations arose.”

Christian Henking very often works at the desk, and composes in his head. In order to stimulate his imagination, he often plays piano or cello. “While improvising, I often get ideas, very simple. That is my old-fashioned vein; I am really rather far away from the computer when I compose, I actually write the notes by hand onto the score sheet.” This also includes that he plays all instruments of his scores himself one time. “I like to have the instrument in my fingers. Not in order to hear its sound – I am a pianist, not a string player – but to play the fingerings, sounds and bow positions myself. Strangely, it helps me compose when I apply the haptics in this context even if it was not necessary; it provides me with a kind of grounding.”

Christian Henking selected the combination of strings trio with flute on the one hand because he wanted a small instrumentation so that no conductor was needed. He does, on the other hand, mainly find this instrumentation fascinating. “I have a close relationship with string trios per se. And then the flute joins in, as a kind of outsider, and melts with the sound of the trio.”

You must not expect a “typical Henking composition”. He rather sees “the task of a composer to look at each piece as if it was new, since as a composer, you are always a beginner”. Christian Henking has even started from scratch for each of his variations within the piece and consciously worked with different approaches and techniques: “This is what makes up the art of composing”. To start from scratch also signified to have a heap of possibilities ahead of oneself. Facing so many freedoms, one would have to reflect. He then also sees the risk to select and use a means or a method too quickly because it has worked in one place and has already been tried and tested before. “Routine is a risk and I fight against this with each note.”

During the conversation at the end of January 2020, the composition process had already been mostly concluded. “Everything is here now”, explains Christian Henking and points to numerous score sheets. “I will rethink everything again so that it is possible I apply corrections and other alterations.” Then, however, the composition will be finished into the last detail. Compared to other works, Christian Henking does not grant the performers any freedoms here.

Christian Henking was born in Basel in 1961. He studied music theory at the Conservatory Berne under Theo Hirsbrunner; Ewald Körner trained him to be a chapel master. After that, he studied composition with Cristobal Halffter and Edison Denisov, in master courses with Wolfgang Rihm and Heinz Holliger. He received various awards, among them the Culture Award of the Bürgi-Willert-Stiftung (2000), Acknowledgment Award of the Canton Berne (2002) and the Music Award of the Canton Berne (2016). He is a lecturer at the University of the Arts, Bern, for composition, theoretical subjects and chamber music. www.christianhenking.ch
Swiss Beethoven reflections: A project by Murten Classics and SUISA on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven had not much to do with Switzerland. He did, however, write “Six variations on a Swiss song” (Sechs Variationen über ein Schweizerlied), namely the folk song “Es hätt e Bur es Töchterli” (A farmer had a daughter once). This is the starting point for the composition assignments which the summer festival Murten Classics and SUISA allocated to eight Swiss composers of different generations, aesthetics and origin.

Oscar Bianchi, Xavier Dayer, Fortunat Frölich, Aglaja Graf, Christian Henking, Alfred Schweizer, Marina Sobyanina and Katharina Weber had a choice of basing their work on the variations, the folk song used by Beethoven or Beethoven in general. The compositions were written for the ensemble Paul Klee which allows for the following maximum instrumentation: Flute (also piccolo, G- or bass flute), clarinet (in B or A), violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

The initiator of this project, launched in 2019, is Kaspar Zehnder who has been Artistic Director of Murten Classics for 22 years. Due to the corona crisis and the measures ordered by the authorities, it was not possible to hold the 32nd instalment of the festival in August 2020 or the scheduled replacement festival in the winter months that followed. The “SUISA day” with eight compositions of this project was performed and recorded nevertheless, without an audience, on 28 January 2021 in the KiB Murten. The recordings are available for listening at radio SRF 2 Kultur in the programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” (5 May 2021, 9pm) and will be released on the platform Neo.mx3. The project will also be documented online via the SUISAblog and the social media channels of SUISA.

www.murtenclassics.ch

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In his composition for the project “Swiss Beethoven reflections”, Christian Henking uses the melody of the Swiss song used by Beethoven as a basis. In his six variations, he utilises different principles. Text by guest author Markus Ganz; Video by Manu Leuenberger

Christian Henking respects Ludwig van Beethoven, “this monument, this granite rock in music history”. “He is a master teacher to me again and again, independent of the aesthetics; fantastic what he has formally achieved.” As a consequence, Beethoven’s “Variationen über ein Schweizerlied” (Variations on a Swiss song) irritated him even more, as he explains in a conversation at the end of January 2020. “I really don’t understand them, thought, it wasn’t possible that they were by Beethoven.”

Since the composer from Biel and Berne could not relate to these variations, he...read more

Archipel Festival – a well-established works smithy | plus video

The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web TV team which is going to broadcast live for ten days, from noon to midnight. A unique, experimental and artistic project which allows the audience to take part actively on air.

Baptism of fire for new composers

This year, the Archipel Festival has provided composers again with the opportunity to create new works and thus give the audience the pleasure of enjoying these new compositions. Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf, a young composer from Geneva, has, for example, created the work “50 Hertz”, whose première will take place on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm.

Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf is a designer and musician who lives and works in Geneva. She creates interactive sound installations, performances and musical instruments. Her works have already been performed to be audio- & audiovisually on numerous international stages. The creative and versatile artist recently registered as an associate member of SUISA.

Collaboration with Archipel

SUISA is a sponsor of the festival again. It is great news that the Archipel organisers have found a creative means to adapt to the circumstances and to carry out the festival under strict stipulations in a new format – and thus enable many new works to be performed.

As a sponsor, we would like to point out two of the 70 events in particular:

Première of the work “50 Hertz” by Salômé Guillemin-Poeuf
on 21 April 2021 at 7.00pm

SUISA round table talk on being a composer in Switzerland
on 24 April 2021 at 2.00pm

Broadcast from the Maison communale de Plainpalais via: www.archipel.org
between 16 and 25 April, from noon to midnight each day

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Cécile Marti: Finding her own universeFinding 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. Read more
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Label Suisse and SUISA make Swiss music possible | plus videoLabel Suisse and SUISA make Swiss music possible | plus video The ninth edition of the Label Suisse Festival will take place in Lausanne from 18 to 20 September 2020. Programming of this biennial festival is dedicated to the Swiss music scene with all its diversity. Special highlight: Artists from all genres have composed works especially for the Label Suisse. These works will be performed live at the festival for the first time. SUISA is once again involved as one of the main partners of the festival. Read more
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The Archipel Festival is going to give a large audience access to a plethora of new works between 16 and 25 April 2021 from its location in Geneva. The audience will be able to delve into the festival from the comfort of their homes and to log on in order to follow about 70 events which take place each afternoon. Text by Erika Weibel; Video by Nina Müller

The entire festival programme is going to be broadcast via streaming and will be made available via the Archipel website, free of charge. It is also possible to meet artists online, to participate in discussions, answer questions in quizzes, get an impression of the weather and throw a glance into the premises of the event venue.

Archipel provides a festival “under supervision” with a Web...read more

Label Suisse and SUISA make Swiss music possible | plus video

The ninth edition of the Label Suisse Festival will take place in Lausanne from 18 to 20 September 2020. Programming of this biennial festival is dedicated to the Swiss music scene with all its diversity. Special highlight: Artists from all genres have composed works especially for the Label Suisse. These works will be performed live at the festival for the first time. SUISA is once again involved as one of the main partners of the festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Label Suisse is unique to Switzerland: Every two years, the festival in Lausanne offers the public an insight into Swiss music creation – across geographical and genre boundaries – and thus highlights the current horizons of Swiss musicians of contemporary music from pop, rock, jazz, classical and new folk music in its most diverse forms of expression. More than 60 established as well as emerging artists will be performing as part of the varied programme in various locations in Lausanne over three days.

Exciting composition projects complete the diverse concert programme. Composers from various musical genres have created works for the festival that will be premiered there.

The festival is not only aimed at a music-loving audience but is also a get-together for the Swiss and foreign music and event scene. SUISA, as a cooperative society of composers, lyricists and publishers of music, is once again one of the main partners of the festival, making music in Switzerland possible together with the Label Suisse.

Composition projects

The following compositions were created especially for the 2020 Label Suisse:

Jazz
Nik Bärtsch, composition and piano.
Project in partnership with the Zurich University of the Arts and the Jazzcampus Basel with the participation of young musicians.
Performance: Saturday, 19 September 2020, Salle Paderewski
Further concerts in the twin cities at the Klangbasel Festival (Basel) and at Moods (Zurich)

Classical music
Antoine Chessex, commissioned composition for great organ, chest organ and Hammond
Artists: Simone Keller and Dominik Blum
Project of 35 minutes duration, entitled “Technosphère & Fragmentation”.
Performance: Sunday, 20 September 2020, Eglise St Francois

Isabel Mundry, composition
Collegium Novum Zurich (CNZ) ; Brian Archinal, percussion solo
Title of the work: Noli me tangere (2020)
Performance: Saturday, 19 September 2020, Salle Paderewski

Cod.act – André et Michel Décosterd
“Von Roll Twist 4” – Installation for 6 speakers and one performer (Francesco Biamonte)
André et Michel Décosterd combine their skills, the first being a musician, composer and sound artist and the second an architect and visual artist. Together they develop an artistic work in the form of performances and interactive installations. Their approach starts with a reflection on sound and movement and their possible interaction.
Performance: Saturday,19 September 2020, D! Club

New traditional music
Michel Godard
Works composed especially for the occasion by Michel Godard, conducted by Pascal Emonet. Played by fanfare players of the Valais Brass Band and Jazz Conservatory in a little-known sound approach: the Italian Banda. This orchestra is accompanied by Michel Godard, Pierre Favre, Isa Wiss and Matthieu Michel.

Come along and experience how the sounds of completely new works are brought to an audience for the very first time.

www.labelsuisse.ch

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The ninth edition of the Label Suisse Festival will take place in Lausanne from 18 to 20 September 2020. Programming of this biennial festival is dedicated to the Swiss music scene with all its diversity. Special highlight: Artists from all genres have composed works especially for the Label Suisse. These works will be performed live at the festival for the first time. SUISA is once again involved as one of the main partners of the festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Label Suisse is unique to Switzerland: Every two years, the festival in Lausanne offers the public an insight into Swiss music creation – across geographical and genre boundaries – and thus highlights the current horizons of Swiss musicians of contemporary music from pop, rock, jazz, classical and new folk music in its...read more

“This crisis is indicative of a sick society”

Today, in the context of our “Music for Tomorrow” project, we are introducing Swiss jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi, and his piece “We Need to Change”. In a written interview, Cyril tells us why he believes that politics and not the virus are responsible for the current crisis. Text by Nina Müller; video by Cyril Bondi, edited by Nina Müller

Cyril Bondi, age 40, describes himself as an experimentalist who loves working with others. Jazz and free jazz are the preferred domains of the Geneva-born musician. He describes improvisation as the backbone to his music. “Improvisation has allowed me to play in different contexts and to feel as much at ease in a jazz trio (Plaistow) as in experimental/traditional music (La Tène), in a pop/rock duo (cyril Cyril), or working collaboratively on a multitude of projects with “d’incise””, he tells SUISA in a written interview. Cyril’s music regularly oversteps the musical boundaries that society has erected over the years. “I have always tried to develop new things, new concepts, to play my instrument differently, to deconstruct it, reinvent it, seek new sounds, new textures”, Cyril says, explaining his musical evolution.

Bondi composed the piece “We Need to Change” exclusively for “Music for Tomorrow”. Before the lockdown, he was occupied with writing several pieces for his next solo album. He had to interrupt his projects because of the coronavirus. When he received the invitation to “Music for Tomorrow”, he realised how much he was aching for a change. Working on the piece was an intense experience. “Intense because I saw it as an opportunity to express a feeling related to what we are experiencing, this curious blend between the clear evidence of a collapsing society and the denial thereof”, Bondi explains. ”I feel this tension deeply and the creative space I plunged myself into enabled me to express it my way”. Moreover, because he normally works with a band or an orchestra, it was unusual for him to work alone.

Cyril Bondi, what are your workdays like during the corona pandemic?
Cyril Bondi: My workdays are generally organised around my family. I have three children at home, so I constantly have to look after them, help them with their homework and keep them occupied. If I want to get some work done, I have to get up early or devote the evening to work on my various projects. There’s no denying it, the pandemic has hit cultural circles with full force, and musicians even more so, underscoring the precariousness in which they have been living for years. I therefore spend much of my time handling concert cancellations and re-schedulings and checking the different aids and grants available. I am also a member of the FGMC, the Geneva federation of creation music, which brings together professional musicians of all genres, from hip hop to contemporary music, and which is trying to put forward common claims for an industry devastated by the pandemic. As a result, I don’t have much time left for my artistic work; at a certain point, I needed to get back to composing; I plunged into new pieces without knowing who I was writing for or why, apart from the need to delve back into creation. I’m also trying to get ahead with recording the Cyril Cyril (pop/rock) album and my own solo album (experimental).

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
This crisis is indicative of a sick society. We are in this situation not because of a spreading virus but because of the political choices our societies have made. Public services and hospitals are being dismantled, forests destroyed, we are exploiting, plundering, and consuming. Personally, I try to read, keep informed, have discussions with others, listen to music. These dark times make me realise just how much we need culture, the arts, and artists to inspire us, to make us dream, help us escape and make us think. We have never needed them as much as we do now.

How can the public help you at the present time?
People must be aware of the state of emergency impacting the cultural industry and stop thinking that they are contributing any aid whatsoever from behind their computers or smartphones. They must buy records, support the live artists they like, listen to the musicians living around them, and above all support the concert halls, theatres, and festivals as soon as they are allowed to re-open; because my greatest fear is yet to come. People are afraid to meet each other, touch each other, hug each other, kiss each other, dance with each other… how can we be expected to share a true moment of music?

Would it be helpful if people streamed more music from Spotify and Co.?
I think anybody would say the same: companies like Spotify, Youtube, and Facebook are looking to make as much money as possible by exploiting other people’s resources. I am one of those other people. They will never give me a penny of what you consume.

What positive effects might the current situation have in your opinion?
My hopes lie in the collective experience we are living through. Are we intelligent enough to realise that a world with fewer airplanes and cars, with more nature, a less hectic rhythm, more time spent with the family, and greater solidarity is a world where hope can be born again? This capitalist society is leading us to our downfall – we must take the opportunity to invent, create, and conceive a new world. This may be naive, but I believe that everyone today can understand this message.

Do you have a message for your fans?
Listen, sing, dance, and go out!

www.cyrilbondi.net

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
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Today, in the context of our “Music for Tomorrow” project, we are introducing Swiss jazz and improvisation musician Cyril Bondi, and his piece “We Need to Change”. In a written interview, Cyril tells us why he believes that politics and not the virus are responsible for the current crisis. Text by Nina Müller; video by Cyril Bondi, edited by Nina Müller

Cyril Bondi, age 40, describes himself as an experimentalist who loves working with others. Jazz and free jazz are the preferred domains of the Geneva-born musician. He describes improvisation as the backbone to his music. “Improvisation has allowed me to play in different contexts and to feel as much at ease in a jazz trio (Plaistow) as in experimental/traditional music (La Tène), in a pop/rock duo (cyril Cyril), or working collaboratively...read more

“In this, we are all really challenged as a community”

With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him. On his website, he describes his music as follows: “A piece can be entered like a room, inhabited. Through obsessive turning moments, overlays of different meters and micro interplay, the music moves on and changes its states. Attention is drawn to the minimal variations and phrasing. The band thus becomes an integral organism – like an animal, a biotope, an urban space. Youʼre supposed to think with your ears and hands.ˮ

He lives this philosophy with his band Ronin and has already toured in Europe, Asia and the USA. With his formations Nik Bärtschʼs Ronin and Nik Bärtschʼs Mobile as well as solo, the musician has released more than thirteen sound recordings, which are performed at weekly performances as part of his concert series at the Zurich Club Exil. Since 2006, he has his own label “Ronin Rhythm Recordsˮ.

For “Music for Tomorrowˮ Nik Bärtsch performed the piece “Modul 5ˮ. He says with regards to the piece: “The piece consists of a small complex pattern in 6/4, which spreads over the whole piano in the course of the piece. I came across this pattern quite early in my musical development and it has accompanied me constantly over the years. Thus the piece, which was composed at an early age, experiences a constant evolution, as I do myself. We work together so to speak, so that our relationship becomes ever simpler, more direct and yet deeper and more mysterious – just as my wife and I shape our lives together.”

Nik, how does your working day as a composer look like during the corona pandemic?
Nik Bärtsch: I am a completely independent composer, pianist, bandleader, producer and publisher. So, at the moment, the only difference compared to the time before the virus is that I travel much less. All international concerts, productions and workshops have obviously been cancelled. I now have the same daily routine that I have at home between trips: I compose, practice, rehearse, organise and communicate alternately. In addition, I share family life with our children together with my wife, who is also very active in her job.
As usual, it requires a lot of love for life, discipline, structure, but also creativity and the desire for surprises.
Since we want to organise and maintain all this at a high level, it was not a big change for us. Our children are often at home and not in after-school care or anywhere else. We all do martial arts and therefore we also have the possibility to train together on the meadow in front of the house.
Our Monday concert series at the EXIL Club will continue for the time being as pure streaming (www.yourstage.live). So Monday remains the ritualized local concert day and the community and the different teams stay in constant contact.

What does this crisis mean for you personally?
Like all severe crises, it shows me exactly where I stand as an artist and human being and once again unconditionally demands my creativity, integrity and resilience.
But as a freelance musician this is often the normal state of affairs anyway. But the big question is: How do groups, ensembles, bands and concert venues survive the current change in the medium term? In this we are all really challenged as a community. The questions that do arise are actually rather useful: What does music mean to me as a professional? What does it mean to all of us? How do we pay for music and the services behind it? How do we sensibly link the value-appraisal chain with the value-creation chain?

How can the audience support you at the moment?
By rewarding my performance and ours: So by watching our paid streams and by consuming and distributing our music on all other media as well. And by learning exactly how music production and presentation works: How many people and their achievements are behind it, when a wonderful song helps me through the day.

Would it help if people on Spotify and Co. streamed more of your music?
The number of streams must be very high for this kind of payment to work. It still helps, though. Everything is connected and the more independent artists are heard and shared, the better. The local, authentic and special art and initiative ultimately feeds the global commercial development. We have noticed this everywhere on our tours around the world.

What do you think the current situation could bring with it?
I always try to deduce the positive in every situation and learn something. The current situation is once again fundamentally testing our prosperity, our security and thus our working methods. This is valuable. Only when we realise how vital music, its inspiring environment and its wonderful possibilities are, can we appreciate the professional handling of it. SUISA and, for example, the Association of Swiss Musicians communicate this very well. Every musician should do this just as passionately and professionally.

What do you want to give your fans to take away from this interview?
Be honest in your approach to music: Nobody simply takes home a loaf of bread at the bakery without paying.
So enjoy the music with the awareness that people have worked on it with love and unconditional devotion.
I recently received an email from an emergency doctor in Australia. He thanked me for the music. He tackles every challenge of the last few years – the floods, the bush fire and now the virus – by listening to one of my tracks in the morning and drinking a coffee with it. Then he would know why he was doing all this and would also be able to bear death, pain and danger. The music gives him strength to rescue, save and help people. I understood then that it is better to focus unconditionally on the music than to help out a little everywhere. In this case, the chain of inspiration works with precision: We both concentrate on the essentials. His integrity, talent and professionalism help me and vice versa. So we both help others again. Societal appreciation and value creation can only work together.

www.nikbaertsch.com

“Music for Tomorrow”
The Covid-19 crisis has hit SUISA’s members particularly hard. The main source of income for many composers and publishers has completely been lost: Performances of any kind have been prohibited by the Federal Government until further notice. In the coming weeks, we will be posting portraits of some of our members on the SUISAblog. They will tell us what moves them during the Covid-19 crisis, what their challenges are and what their working day currently looks like. The musicians also performed and filmed their own composition for the SUISAblog at home or in their studio. SUISA pays the musicians a fee for this campaign.
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Penny-pinching in digital music distributionPenny-pinching in digital music distribution Business in the online sector has been subject to constant change – not only for copyright societies. In the second part of the interview, SUISA CEO Andreas Wegelin reports on the status quo and provides an outlook on the scenarios that are being discussed. Read more
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With the “Music for tomorrowˮ project, SUISA aims to support its members in these difficult times. We offer artists a platform where they can talk about their current situation while in lockdown and present one of their works. This week we present the Swiss pianist, composer and music producer Nik Bärtsch and his piece “Modul 5ˮ. In the interview, Nik talks about his everyday life in lockdown with his family and what he has in common with an Australian emergency doctor. Text by Nina Müller; video by Nik Bärtsch, complemented by Nina Müller

Nik Bärtsch (48) is a successful jazz pianist who lives with his family in Zurich. In addition to music, Zurich-born Bärtsch also studied philosophy, linguistics and musicology. It is therefore not surprising that music has a deeper meaning for him....read more

Reto Parolari: The passionate and blazing flame shines no more

On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic for him. Nobody could have even imagined that he would leave us so suddenly. I remember our intensive and cordial discussions at the Board dinner.

I would like to highlight his valuable input into the SUISA Board with a few lines: As a composer and a musician he contributed with an important view. He was always constructive and an indispensable partner.

We had known each other since 2007 when he joined our Board as Chairman of the Distribution and Works Committee. He is thus an important person in the life of the Board that left us on Sunday – irreplaceable, and we regret his passing very much.

In order to visualise his music and his artistic development, it seems best to let Urs Schnell, Director of our foundation, to say a few words. It was only recently that he held an outstanding laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award of the city of Winterthur on 3 December. The speech of Urs Schnell, which we are going to reproduce in the following will have a particularly moving dimension to it.

In the name of the SUISA Board I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Reto Parolari in this rather sorrowful time.

Xavier Dayer

Laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award to Reto Parolari in the Winterthur Theatre on 3 December 2019

Dear Reto

For me, tonight, a circle is complete: it was on the stage of this very house that I had my first encounter with you, Reto – that’s going back to 1990 or thereabouts. As a student for a teaching diploma at the then music conservatory here in Winterthur, I had to join in singing at the annual Konsi [conservatory] choir concert. A joint concert with your orchestra was scheduled. The programme read: “Sophisticated entertainment music”

This starting point was, maybe you can try to imagine this, ladies and gentlemen – well, not quite simple. For the music students which had been conditioned towards the sublime classical music, it was initially completely far-fetched having to even deal with such kind of repertoire. The project met with a lot of scepticism. “Entertainment music”…. Possibly even with a ternary swing element…. Excerpts from “My Fair Lady” and such like… Well, the then choir conductor and Konsi director, Fritz Näff, whom I hold in high regard, was facing a real challenge.

But, the closer the concert was, the clearer it became: Entertainment music is not, per se, “light” or “casual” music which you could be casual about. There are some tough musical nuts that need cracking.

At the end of the day it was you, Reto, who managed to make the whole thing take off: Thanks to your enthusiasm, your zeal, your humour – and yes, a natural authority which only artists hold in themselves, when they are well above anything material, a jolt went through all of the students gathered there. Resistance melted away, and people made music together.

Something I had the privilege of taking home with me as a life wisdom from you that evening: In order to really captivate your audience you need respect vis-à-vis your co-musicians, the profound knowledge of what you actually do, a deep reverence for music, but above all your own enthusiasm, a passionate, blazing fire – the feu sacrée.

With this small step back in history, I would like to welcome you to this Culture Award ceremony for Reto Parolari.

It is a huge honour and joy that I may speak to you today. And I thank you, Reto, that you asked for me to do so….

You, the Parolari family, are probably the one family in Winterthur with the most comprehensive Culture Award collection. Your father, the oboist Egon Parolari, had already received the award exactly 30 years ago – which also is a sign of the continuity of the culture policy of Winterthur.

Since you were a kid, you were active in Winterthur. You once said: “I have literally grown up on the stage floor of the town hall. My father took me along to rehearsals and concerts that often.”

At the age of 24, you completed your studies as a qualified musician with the main subject drums, further studies followed in Hanover, Stuttgart and Vienna.

Voilà – and from now on, ladies and gentlemen, it will be difficult, because the biggest challenge, if you wish to approach Reto’s works and their impact, is simply the unbelievable diversity of his creations.

It is not an easy task for the poor person holding the laudatio, to summarise your curriculum, Reto: it is characterised by concurrent and contrary, complementing and parallel events. But and that makes the task a bit simpler for the not quite so poor person holding the laudatio: it is all held together by a fiery passion for music, the feu sacrée – and it is exactly because of the rough edges that it is a curriculum which is logical per se.

You are an artist – but also a shrewd entrepreneur. You are a composer and an arranger, you are author and editor of specialist literature, conductor and instrumentalist.

Multi-instrumentalist: Marimba, continental typewriter, drums, piano and you are even a virtuoso of car horns. Your main instrument, however, is you. Your authenticity, your belief in your mission, your warmth and humour, your stubborness and unconditionality, in other words, your feu sacrée.

It is impossible to talk about you without implying “sophisticated entertainment music”.

But, hold on a minute… what is that?? What distinguishes a Parolari from other musicians, what is, in marketing speak: Your unique selling point?

Let me quote Cédric Dumont, the founder of the Radio Orchestra of Radio Beromünster and the Director of the radio studio Zurich: “The original sin in music happened when people began to distinguish between E and U, between serious and entertainment music…. But even for U you need stamina, craftsmanship and enthusiasm.” Voilà, the feu sacrée.

You are burning for a music genre which clearly has not got an “easy life”. A genre which, if it is even perceived as such, often only attracts a smug smile…

But where does it come from, that representatives from the so-called “serious” category turn up their noses?

The demands are high, probably higher than some others, presumed serious music genres: In order to reach the full effect of entertainment music, the score must be transposed exactly, the music MUST be taken seriously, but – careful: Contradiction here – it always has to be played with a wink.

But – by implication: May I not feel “entertained” by a Beethoven symphony, a Bach concert? And if I was to feel “entertained” after all: does this mean somebody made a mistake??

I leave this for you to ponder…

Your art is closely connected with the history of Swiss radio. Until the seventies, each radio station had its own contractual orchestra, which accompanied the spoken broadcasts live with specially composed repertoire. In order to create the desired mood effects with the listener, music had to be composed in various, colourful and pictorial ways, and be implemented perfectly in terms of the skills applied. What makes me put forward this thesis is: sophisticated entertainment music is film music – a film music which needs to create its own images – and that is musical storytelling at its best.

With the massive distortions of the media landscape at the beginning of the seventies, the marriage of the radio orchestras was over – one ensemble after the other was dissolved – the repertoire was no longer requested, musicians with the highest qualifications were laid off, the music archives were under threat to end up in the waste paper collection….

That is when Reto was at the right place at the right time:

You literally saved the music scores of the radio studio Basel, the Bayerische Rundfunk and later those of the radio orchestra Beromünster from the shredder.

And that is how your biggest achievement, in material terms, is growing more or less in secret, nearly literally beneath our feet….

In a huge air raid bunker in the middle of Winterthur, you have become the guardian of a huge music score collection of more than 110,000 titles.

This biggest music archive in Europe is not just a mausoleum of creative moments, no, you mediate access for numerous international orchestras which use the music actively.

Your merit for a continuation of sound and paper of this musically historic unique legacy, the keeping alive of cultural goods cannot be commended highly enough. I would like to thank the city of Winterthur at this point that it acknowledges this unique commitment and also pays the respect it has deserved to this kind of music with its award.

And of course it is not possible to talk about you without mentioning your own orchestras.

The first orchestra you founded was during your studies at this music conservatory.

The “ORP” was created with a symphonic line-up, which has been exclusively made up of 40 professional musicians since 1990. Such an orchestra – something I have to mention as an aside – is actually an entrepreneurial nonsense. It can never break even – but still: You never had to report it to the bankruptcy office.

You conducted more than 40 orchestras from all over the world, among which there were exotic ones such as the State Hermitage Orchestra St Petersburg (Russia), the Airport Orchestra Zurich (Switzerland) or the Philharmonic Orchestra Pyongyang (North Korea).

You never applied for any of these engagements – you were always contacted by them.

The same applies – for the world of circus: at the tender age of 28, you were offered the conductor’s position at Circus Nock, shortly after the same position at the Circus Knie. For your creative engagement at the Carré Theatre in Amsterdam, the Queen of the Netherlands even awarded you the title “Royal Bandmaster”. And, you also found yourself shoulder to shoulder with aristocrats and other crown-wearing royalty as Head Conductor of Music at the International Circus Festival in Monaco.

It was only at home where there was less glamour for you: with your own international festival of sophisticated entertainment music, you may well have launched a unique music event with international reach – but the public at home did not take quite as much notice of it…

I would also need to mention your work as a composer and arranger, spanning more than 800 works, in more detail, and you also deserve to be honoured as the author of expert articles and several specialist books – but, alas, time flies…

Something is, however, important to me: You are not only standing up for yourself, Reto: as a Board member of the collective management organisation SUISA, or as an active member of the local Rotary Club Winterthur -Mörsburg, you are also committed to the service for people around you.

As mentioned at the outset: a curriculum with rough edges – because all of the facets of your activities, whether as a musician, conductor, orchestra leader, entrepreneur, event organiser, publisher, archivist, composer, they complement, require and need each other and result in the overall picture of someone who creates art and culture. – a logical curriculum, a curriculum that follows through.

It was only recently that I was allowed to perform once more under your direction: if only in one musical piece, but this time as a trained flautist. And within seconds, it was there again: that feeling that you can convey so well: the respectful “this will be good, trust me”. Easy going when it comes to your appearance, but serious when it comes to the matter at hand. And indeed: You counted the intro, the big band started to swing, my part…. Your feu sacrée was blazing and all was superb – and yes all went well!

Merci, Reto, for all of that!!

Urs Schnell

The memorial service will take place on Monday, 30 December 2019, at 3 pm in the Stadtkirche in Winterthur.

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  1. Samuel Zünd says:

    Bitte veranlassen Sie unbedingt die Sicherung Reto Parolaris einzigartiger Notenbibliothek als ein Ganzes der Nachwelt! Sie ist ein einzigartiger Schatz und gehört der Öffentlichkeit für alle Zeiten zugänglich gemacht. Auf dass die von Reto geretteten Werke nicht noch einmal vorm Schreddern bedroht werden!
    Herzlich Samuel Zünd

  2. Markus Niffenegger says:

    Lieber Reto
    Die Nachricht von deinem unerwarteten Abschied vom irdischen Leben hat mich zu tiefst schockiert, denn du warst mir stets ein guter Freund und ein grosses Vorbild. Die Zeit, in welcher ich vor über 40 Jahren als junger Amateurtrompeter in deinem Orchester mitmusizieren durfte, ist mir bis heute als meine beste musikalische Erfahrung in guter Erinnerung geblieben. Mit dir haben wir einen grossen Musiker und überaus edlen Menschen verloren.
    Vielen Dank für alles, ruhe in Frieden!
    Markus

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On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic...read more

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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Arrangement of works in the public domainArrangement of works in the public domain Before you start arranging musical works that are not protected by copyright, it is worth being aware of the legal pitfalls in order to avoid costly stumbles. Seeking inspiration from others, arranging existing works for different instrumentation, incorporating all or part of existing compositions into new works … these are age-old practices. Read more
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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

Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the dandy, emerged, and was happy because that is who he was: the dandy among Swiss composers, genuinely vain, but also sensually playful with this vanity. When Adrian Marthaler visualised his orchestral work “Breaks and Takes” for TV, Ringger himself played a Delius-like, melancholic composer by a swimming pool.

“I love flirting. It does, after all, provide my production with a light and playful moment. And it is really well received by the audience. And I enjoy it.” That’s what he said in a conversation. “The moment of narcissism, now understood without bias, is prominently perceptible with me.” I liked him for this kind of self-irony which was rather natural in his case. He brought his very own and outstanding colour into the Zurich music scene which tended to be modest. He was glamorous, eclectic, urban, even though he always spent his summers on Capri where he created a few sensual sound patterns. The composer was heavily involved in creating this image.

Sound and word artist

Ringger was also a native of Zurich. Born in Zurich on 06 April 1935, he grew up here, lived and worked here, a word and sound artist. He attended the seminar in Küsnacht, he completed a thesis on Weberns piano pieces at the musicologists’ seminar Zurich with Kurt von Fischer. As rur. (his initials used for writing as a journalist for the NZZ), he belonged to the critics’ staff of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, delivered trenchant and elegant, sometimes deliberately careless texts, but also wrote early portraits on those composers who only got attention to a great extent such as Edgard Varèse or Charles Ives, Erik Satie and Othmar Schoeck. Apart from great characters, there are also mavericks, and he happily remembered the nostalgics among whom he probably counted himself. In publications such as the essay collection “Von Debussy bis Henze”, he bundled these portraits.

Ringger had lessons in composition very early on, privately with Hermann Haller. At Darmstadt summer schools in 1956, he studied under Theodor W. Adorno and Ernst Krenek, shortly after for half a year with Hans Werner Henze in Rome. Those were aesthetic antipodes since Henze had already withdrawn from the avant-garde scene by then. Even though Ringger later on mentioned with a smug expectant smile that he got on better with Adorno than with Henze, he still followed his abandon of the strictly serial techniques to an orientation towards a sensual sound language. This can already be heard from the sound of his titles: “… Vagheggi il mar e l’arenoso lido…” for orchestra (1978), “Souvenirs de Capri” for soprano, bugle and string sextet (1976–77), “Ode ans Südlicht” for choir and orchestra (1981) or “Addio!” for strings and tubular bells. He also created three ballet music works, namely “Der Narziss” (1980), “Ikarus” (1991), and “Ippòlito” (1995). What he obviously never tried was to approach the great dramatico-musical forms.

Sensual sound language

Ringger was one of the first who used neo-tonal elements in the 70ies, as a Henze follower, trending rather early. I dedicated a caustic comment to this in a review back then. Of course, despite all of his self-irony, he reacted relatively offended. And yet, a few years later, he reverted to the issue with pleasure and proudly announced that I had called him the first neo-tonal in this country back then. The change towards postmodernism had proved him right.

Thus, his music often played with quotes (from Debussy, for example), indulged in impressionistic colours or in highly romantic gestures, but still remained transparent and light all the while. I did, however, treasure him most as an urban flâneur. Not where he put newspaper clippings together in a childish manner to create a collage (“Chari-Vari-Etudes”, “Vermischtes”) for chamber speaking choir but in his musical promenades. In the “Manhattan Song Book” (2002) for soprano, three speaking voices and five instruments, he is out and about in New York, observes, takes notes, comments in eleven songs, cheeky, carefree, again in a coquettish self-mirroring. When a lady, called as a not so friendly “crazy witch”, asks him whether he was the “famous composer”, he only answers briefly: “No, it’s my cousin.”

Now he passed away. “Lights!” is written at the top of his obituary, below the sentences: “He loved the sun of the Mediterranean, music and youth. He thanks all of those who have done well unto him in his life and supported his music.” Capri is going to miss him. His “Notiziario caprese” (2004) ends with the words “(very calm, nearly without pathos) Se non c’è Amore, tutto è sprecato. (very matter-of-fact) Where there is no love, everything is in vain. Inscription on a grave in Capri; about 2020.”

The obituary by Thomas Meyer was first published in the “Schweizer Musikzeitung” no. 9/10 of September/October 2019.

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Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the...read more

Intriguing insights and concerts at the Zeiträume Festival

Would you like to look over composers’ shoulders while they are working? Would you like to ask them what inspires and incites them to open new worlds for us with their works? The biennial ‘Zeiträume Basel’, a cooperation with SUISA, provides you with the opportunity to have a personal chat with authors of the works which are performed during the festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Intriguing insights and concerts at the Zeiträume Festival

Zeiträume Pavilion, meeting point of the festival. It was created by Zeiträume Basel with the support of SUISA and the Basel Canton Bank in co-production with the University for Music FHNW / Music Academy Basel. (Photo: Johanna Köhler)

In cooperation with SUISA, the Festival Zeiträume turns the process of how music is created today into an experience. This is due to the fact that in 2019, a particular focus of the festival’s programme is on the creative development process of compositions. During the SUISA Talks with composers whose works sound throughout the festival, visitors to the event can enter into their world, and get an impression of their motivation, their inspiration and their various work methods. Visitors can also ask the composers questions in a relaxed atmosphere.

This can make the visit to the ensuing or previously attended concert much more intriguing and thus either build up the anticipation or enhance the musical experience. The discussions are free-of charge for the audience; they are held in various locations at the festival and are professionally run.

SUISA Talks at the Zeiträume Festival 2019

Sun 15 September Katharina Rosenberger, Baldur Brönnimann | Wir sind Meer | Mitteldeck
Mon 16 September Mitglieder FIM Basel | Das grosse Rauschen| Unternehmen Mitte
Mon 16 September Marianne Schuppe | Die Summe | ZeitRäume Pavillon
Wed 18 September Elisabeth Flunger & Gäste | Das grosse Rauschen | Unternehmen Mitte
Wed 18 September Team Rohrwerk. Fabrique sonore | Kunstmuseum
Thu 19 September Team Rohrwerk. Fabrique sonore | Kunstmuseum
Sat 21 September Team Rohrwerk. Fabrique sonore | Kunstmuseum
Sat 21 September Hannes Seidel, Andreas Wenger | Überläufer* | Zollhalle St. Johann
Sat 21 September Kollektiv Mycelium | Cyber String Species | Gare du Nord
Sat 21 September Mike Svoboda | Freude | Antoniuskirche
Sun 20 September Team Ivan Wyschnegradsky: La Coupole | Markthalle Basel

In addition, there will be daily talks at the Pavilion between 4.30pm and 7.00pm. The exact timetable will only be published by the Zeiträume Festival shortly before the event on its website.

Moderators: Bernhard Günther, Dorothea Lübbe, Johannes Joseph, Anja Wernicke

Festival Pavilion

Commissioned by Zeiträume Basel 2019, supported by SUISA, Marco Zünd, architect from Basel, (Buol & Zünd Architects) has designed a welcoming, temporary assembly point in a prominent location at the ‘Mittlere Brücke’ at the Rhine promenade. A folding cube shall act as an information centre, meeting point for various festival activities and venue of artistic interventions. There, the audience can meet composers in action throughout the entire duration of the festival.

Opening times Pavilion
Tue 10 September to Sun 22 September | daily 11am – 7pm | Wohlterasse at the ‘Mittlere Brücke’

Cube Talks with festival artists: every day from 4.30pm to 7.00pm
(except during performances)
Tue 10 September | SUISA Talk with Marco Zünd
Mon 16 September | SUISA Talk with Marianne Schuppe

Performances: Wed 11 Sep, Thu 12 Sep, Tue 17 Sep, Wed 18 Sep | 12.30am to 2.00pm & 5.00pm to 6.30pm respectively

www.zeitraeumebasel.com

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Would you like to look over composers’ shoulders while they are working? Would you like to ask them what inspires and incites them to open new worlds for us with their works? The biennial ‘Zeiträume Basel’, a cooperation with SUISA, provides you with the opportunity to have a personal chat with authors of the works which are performed during the festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Intriguing insights and concerts at the Zeiträume Festival

Zeiträume Pavilion, meeting point of the festival. It was created by Zeiträume Basel with the support of SUISA and the Basel Canton Bank in co-production with the University for Music FHNW / Music Academy Basel. (Photo: Johanna Köhler)

In cooperation with SUISA, the Festival Zeiträume turns the process of how music is created today into an experience. This is due to the fact that in 2019, a particular...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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Leave a Reply

All comments will be moderated. This may take some time and we reserve the right not to publish comments that contradict the conditions of use.

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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