Tag Archives: Swiss composer

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

Festival Archip-elles – Women Power

The Geneva Festival for contemporary music creation has dedicated itself to music originating from the pen of women for its 2019 event. Archip-elles presents works by female composers of various generations, origin and aesthetics. On Friday, 05 April 2019, SUISA members are invited to a visit at the Festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Festival Archip-elles – Women Power

At the Festival Archip-elles 2019, the focus is on music by female contemporary composers. (Photo: Festival Archipel)

“In an article by the ‘Guardian’, ‘Female composers largely ignored by concert line-ups”, published on 13 June 2018, 1,445 classical concerts were examined which were planned around the world for the 2018-19 season, and the conclusion was drawn that only 76 events featured a work by a woman”, writes Festival director Marc Texier in the Editorial of this year’s festival guide. The Geneva Festival for Contemporary Music Creation creates a counterweight against this gender-based imbalance in the concert world and ensures that the music by female composers is heard at the 2019 event.

The concert programme of this year’s Festival Archip-elles is complemented by installations, round tables and workshops. On Friday morning, 05 April 2019, the Festival organises a workshop, in collaboration with SUISA, on the topic of copyright for students of the “Haute école de musique Genève”, the “Conservatoire populaire de musique” and the participants of the two academies “Académie Archipel” and Composer’s Next Generation (Ensemble Vortex).

Invitation for SUISA members

The Festival Archipel and SUISA cordially invite SUISA members to spend the evening of 05 April 2019 at the Festival. SUISA members who register their participation can attend free of charge. We are looking forward to your registrations until 31 March 2019 at the latest. Please send an e-mail to: kommunikation (at) suisa (dot) ch

A detailed evening programme, to which SUISA members are invited, is listed below. One programme item of particular interest on said evening is the round table discussion on the topic “to be a female composer in Switzerland”.

Round Table Discussion: To be a female composer in Switzerland

What’s it like for female composers to hold their ground in a world dominated by men? Why is it harder for a female composer to get her works to be performed? Why don’t more women choose a career as a composer?

Marc Texier, Festival director, follows up on these questions in a conversation with the two Swiss female composers Katharina Rosenberger and Annette Schmucki as well as with Dr. Irene Minder-Jeanneret, musicologist with a research focus on gender and music.

Once the discussion is over, the stage is open for the musical part of the evening: In a concert with the ensemble Vortex, the work by Swiss composer Barblina Meierhans will have its premiere, among others. Afterwards, Ella Soto will perform on a DJ set.

Detailed programme, where members are invited on Friday, 05 April 2019, at the Festival Archip-elles in Geneva:

5.00pm, Maison communale de Plainpalais
Visit to the installations of Marianthi Papalexandri and Pe Lang

6.00pm, Maison communale de Plainpalais
Drinks and discussion panel: To be a female composer in Switzerland
Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret, musicologist
Katharina Rosenberger, composer
Annette Schmucki, composer
Presentation: Marc Texier

8.00pm, Théâtre Pitoëff
Concert
The ensemble Vortex is going to play works by Barblina Meierhans, Olga Kokcharova, Eva Reiter, Ann Cleare, Clara Iannotta and Jessie Marino.

10.00pm – 1.00 am, Maison communale de Plainpalais
Ella Soto – DJ Set, Carte blanche à La VostokE
La Vostoke is the first radio sender in Switzerland which is a 100% female.

www.archipel.org, festival website

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The Geneva Festival for contemporary music creation has dedicated itself to music originating from the pen of women for its 2019 event. Archip-elles presents works by female composers of various generations, origin and aesthetics. On Friday, 05 April 2019, SUISA members are invited to a visit at the Festival. Text by Erika Weibel

Festival Archip-elles – Women Power

At the Festival Archip-elles 2019, the focus is on music by female contemporary composers. (Photo: Festival Archipel)

“In an article by the ‘Guardian’, ‘Female composers largely ignored by concert line-ups”, published on 13 June 2018, 1,445 classical concerts were examined which were planned around the world for the 2018-19 season, and the conclusion was drawn that only 76 events featured a work by a woman”, writes Festival director Marc Texier in the Editorial of this year’s festival guide. The Geneva...read more

“SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret at 10:00 am. The three-concert series, featuring works by 13 contemporary composers, attracted interest from far beyond the region’s borders. In a review published two days after the event, the “Freiburger Nachrichten” wrote: “There was hardly a spare seat inside the cultural centre.”

The festival guide had announced the SUISA-supported day of concerts in the “Offen für Neues” series as “a day of encounter”. This proved to be true in several respects on the day itself on Saturday, 25 August 2018: thanks to the wide range of works performed, the audience had a chance to discover the tonal variety of the contemporary compositions. Many of the composers whose pieces were played had travelled to Murten themselves, where they provided insights into their musical philosophy in short introductory speeches. The musicians in attendance also engaged in lively discussions during the breaks between the three concerts.

Well organised, interpreted and integrated

One of the ideas behind the day was “not to try and impress with premières, but instead to show a broad musical spectrum”, explained Roman Brotbeck, who as the moderator guided the audience through the programme. Andreas Zurbriggen praised this approach in his review in “Schweizer Musikzeitung” (September/October 2018). According to him, there are enough world premières, but the same cannot be said of second and third performances of contemporary pieces. Zurbriggen believes the organisers succeeded in their aim, with the artistic director, Kaspar Zehnder, demonstrating his talent for putting together a programme and “allowing different worlds to collide”. “And the interpretations, such as those of the Belenus Quartet, the pianist Gilles Grimaître and Ensemble mit vier, were of a very high standard”, wrote the reviewer in the same article.

The review of the concert day in the “Freiburger Nachrichten” concluded by saying: “It’s good that there is a place for these kinds of experiments in the festival programme alongside the popular concerts.” The ambitious “Offen für Neues” one-day project of the Murten Classics Festival and SUISA met with a positive response all round, as also shown by the feedback from the participants below.

In its programme “Neue Musik im Konzert” on Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 9 pm, Radio SRF 2 Kultur will play excerpts from the three concerts held on 25 August 2018.

Katrin Frauchiger

In her short introductory speech, composer Katrin Frauchiger from Berne explained her piece “Mare nostrum” for flute and string trio, which was subsequently played in concert. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Katrin Frauchiger, composer and singer, lecturer HSLU:

“As a composer, I greatly appreciate the joint commitment made by Murten Classics and SUISA in hosting an entire day of contemporary music. The organisers’ courage in sending out an important message within the context of the Murten Festival paid off in every respect: the event attracted a large audience of extremely interested people who were open to new music.
Three fresh, carefully curated concerts were presented with a speech and introduction, and each had an inspiring theme for the listener: Waves from another world / Immigration-Emigration / Roots and great places. In a conversation with Roman Brotbeck, I had the opportunity to personally introduce my piece ‘Mare Nostrum’ and thus open the door to a beautiful performance of my music. The other composers present also had the same opportunity. The interaction between the audience and the composers was equally valuable, some of whom had travelled from afar.”

Irene Minder-Jeanneret

“An architect can make a living from their compositions, but this is hardly true for a composer”, said the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret during the opening speech, going on to explain why Swiss music artists deserve more recognition. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret, musicologist, member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group:

“SUISA Day offered a valuable and rare tour of both the music industry and the cultural-political significance of music in Switzerland. It illustrated the gap between the lively and exceptional musical reality in our country and the lack of political recognition. Although a third of the population is actively involved in making music, Switzerland is still not perceived as a musical country. Creating, making, teaching, distributing and documenting music are equal facets of an important cultural sector, and they deserve to be recognised, promoted and made known at all political levels. Just as in the film industry, there are some activities in the musical field that cannot be supported by the cantons alone.
As a member of the Dictionary of Music in Switzerland steering group, SUISA Day gave me a unique opportunity to talk to participants from all areas of music. Without doubt, the event also helped to raise awareness of the individual concerns.”

Kaspar Zehnder

The artistic director of the Murten Classics Festival, Kaspar Zehnder, also played the flute at SUISA Day. (Photo: Willi Piller)

Kaspar Zehnder, artistic director of Murten Classics and curator of the first ‘SUISA Day’ on 25 August 2018:

“The heterogeneity and diversity of the programme made for an interesting and exciting day. Through combination of a wide variety of aesthetics, it provided the perfect stage for the audience, composers, presenters and performers to engage in lively discussions, or to enjoy a slice of Murten cream cake and a glass of red wine from Vully in rapt silence.
At the very least, SUISA Day should become a biennial tradition at the Murten Classics.”

www.murtenclassics.ch

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The programme of the Murten Classics Festival included a full day of contemporary music on 25 August 2018 as part of the concert series “Offen für Neues”. The concert day, supported by SUISA and recorded by Radio SRF 2 Kultur, met with a positive response all round. Text by Manu Leuenberger

Belenus Quartett: “SUISA Day” at the Murten Classics Festival proves a resounding success

In the third and final concert of the “Offen für Neues” series on 25 August 2018 at the Murten Classics Festival, the Belenus Quartet performed works by Daniel Schnyder, Cécile Marti, Iris Szeghy and Marco Antonio Perez-Ramirez. (Photo: Willi Piller)

The programme for this outstanding day of concerts at the Murten Classics Festival began early, with guests arriving in numbers at the Kultur im Beaulieu (KiB) concert hall in Murten in time for the opening speech by the musicologist Dr. Irène Minder-Jeanneret...read more

Swiss creations at Festival Archipel

By placing four Swiss composers in the limelight on Wednesday 21 March 2018, Festival Archipel demonstrated that Swiss composers are still very present in contemporary music. Text by guest author Sébastien Cayet

Swiss creations at Festival Archipel

Katharina Rosenberger, a Swiss composer who was born in Zurich and works in the US, and festival director Marc Texier at the introductory discussion for the “Swiss Concert Evening“ at the Festival Archipel on 21 March 2018 in Geneva. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

With the support of SUISA, the Cooperative Society of Music Authors and Publishers, Archipel proposed an evening in two parts. In cooperation with SUISA, Marc Texier, General Manager of the Festival, invited Swiss composers Katharina Rosenberger and Michael Pelzel for a pre-concert interview. This was a good opportunity to hear about their activities, influences, composition methods and projects.

The least one can say is that their influences are at opposite ends of the spectrum: Katharina Rosenberger draws her musical references from the Renaissance, namely Willaert and De Rore in particular, while Michael Pelzel willingly avows that, in his piece he used Indian and African techniques to create a contrast between western and non-European music, and between tradition and innovation. The range of their activities does not, however, stop at composition; one teaches in the United States, the other plays the organ.

This means that neither of them have to rely solely on composing for their livelihood; they agree that the surge in streaming, is eliminating – or strongly eroding – CDs and live shows, which are an important source of income for them. Fortunately for the composers, SUISA is committed to safeguarding their copyrights, and makes sure they are remunerated when their compositions are performed.

Swiss creations and international creations

After the interview, the concert was ready to start. Four pieces are on the programme: two Swiss creations, namely “Tempi agitati“ by Katharina Rosenberger and “Ante Litteram“ by Oscar Bianchi, and two international creations, namely “Etüdienbuch zu Diabelli“ by Michael Pelzel and “Präludien Buch 1-4“ by Mischa Käser.

The Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, a German vocal ensemble, performed a customised repertoire composed especially for them. They had already performed the piece by Oscar Bianchi in 2012 and that by Katharina Rosenberger in 2016.

In “Tempi agitati“ – performed in an abridged version that evening – Katharina Rosenberger creates contrasted settings thanks to alternating aesthetics and a staging based on the acoustics and architecture of the concert hall. The performance starts in the dark. The soloists are sitting among the audience. Suddenly, one of them starts a dialogue of onomatopoeia. With precision, the vocalists answer, wait for and interrupt one another. They then come together on stage and strike up a polyphonic song in Renaissance style, with a nod to Adrian Willaert and Cipriano de Rore.

In revisiting the music of the Renaissance, the composer is seeking the natural sound of the voice. The voices of the soloists are pure, linear and without artifice – but not without emotion. The beginning of “Tempi agitati“ is characteristic of the piece; the singers move about the room, alternate and juxtapose the aesthetics, tempi and characters, and finish like they started: in the dark, offstage and non visible to the audience.

Each musical effect has a meaning

In “Ante Litteram“, Oscar Bianchi is inspired by David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest“ and Nietzsche’s “Antechrist“ where he finds “the same empathy and lucidity in the exploration of the reasons preventing man from achieving deeper self-knowledge and self-awareness”. The piece has three underlying themes: evil, morality and salvation, and each musical effect has a meaning.

After a beginning spoken in homorhythm, the voices stagger out slowly, adopting different rhythms and renditions, like clear and coherent thought which becomes lost in the meanders of the mind. The dissonance between the sopranos, for example, evokes pain, the imitated laughter tends towards absurdity, while the variations in pace run parallel to the variation of our own internal agitation.

Diabelli, in the work of Michael Pelzel, refers neither to the composer Anton Diabelli, nor to Beethoven’s “Diabelli variations“. “Etüdenbuch zu Diabelli“ for six voices a cappella is based on a story by Hermann Burger in which a magician decides to put an end to his life as an artist. The studies, which can be sung in random order, play on the rhythms provoked by the synchronisation and desynchronisation of the voices. Moreover, the tempi are sometimes superimposed, with the female and male voices beating to different pulsations so that the voices enter into opposition.

Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart lived up to expectations

To end the evening, Mischer Käser’s “Präludien Buch 1-4“ was rich in musical elements: superposed effects – spoken voice, operatic cell, rhythmic cell – rendering the voices independent from each other, dramatisation, with sighing, breathing and perfectly synchronised surprise effects. The composer wanted “exotic song techniques to cohabit with familiar sounds and make them alien”. Surprise and originality are the characteristic features of the work, as well as the dichotomy between the western form of the prelude and the “exotic techniques” used.

Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart lived up to our expectations; the apparent ease with which they performed the virtuoso repertoire was disconcerting. There is no question about their versatility in mastering the works, effects and even the aesthetics. The performance highlighted the perfect understanding and osmosis between the members of the group which enables them to grasp every aspect of these virtuoso works and transcend them in their interpretation.

www.archipel.org

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By placing four Swiss composers in the limelight on Wednesday 21 March 2018, Festival Archipel demonstrated that Swiss composers are still very present in contemporary music. Text by guest author Sébastien Cayet

Swiss creations at Festival Archipel

Katharina Rosenberger, a Swiss composer who was born in Zurich and works in the US, and festival director Marc Texier at the introductory discussion for the “Swiss Concert Evening“ at the Festival Archipel on 21 March 2018 in Geneva. (Photo: Manu Leuenberger)

With the support of SUISA, the Cooperative Society of Music Authors and Publishers, Archipel proposed an evening in two parts. In cooperation with SUISA, Marc Texier, General Manager of the Festival, invited Swiss composers Katharina Rosenberger and Michael Pelzel for a pre-concert interview. This was a good opportunity to hear about their activities, influences, composition methods and projects.

The least...read more

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years’ old!

Julien-François Zbinden is a pianist, composer, writer and … 100 years’ old. On 11 November 2017, the honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his centennial birthday. For the occasion, the guest author Jean-Pierre Mathez has been invited to review the jubilarian’s life and work.

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years' old!

Julien-François Zbinden, former President and now honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his 100th birthday on 11 November 2017 (Photo: Yvan Ischer)

Ford Model T year 1913. (Photo: Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock.com)

Julien-François Zbinden was born on 11 November 1917, nine years after the Ford T. He was a privileged and attentive witness to the extra-ordinary technological, artistic, moral and spiritual developments which revolutionised Man’s life on this planet during his lifetime.

His musical adventure started with his beloved piano. In his own words:

“Still today, it shares my passion for jazz music, and our complicity is enshrined in the album ‘The Last Call…?’ which I recorded when I was 93. ‘It’ is my instrument, my more than one century-old piano: a Blüthner Model 190, No. 89293, built in Leipzig in 1910, to which I dedicate this Opus 111 (titled ‘Blüthner-Variationen’, published by Editions Bim PNO67, Author’s note) which completes my series of works for the piano.”

Self-portrait, engraving on linoleum, 1937.

Julien-François Zbinden first earned his living as a bar pianist, passionately initiating himself to jazz and then to composition.

When he was 30, he started his career with the music department of Radio Suisse Romande, which he marked with his administrative imprint and open-mindedness until stepping down in 1982. Glorious years with the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Fanfare Perce-Oreille, classical and popular choirs across French-speaking Switzerland, stars of “la chanson française”, jazz orchestras; he participated in and hosted on-air debates with talent and respect for the opinions of others. He brought numerous celebrities from the musical world to Lausanne: the RSR archives contain a wealth of live interviews and recordings with famous artists. He opened the RSR’s doors to all genres of quality music, irrigating a pluralist culture in the Romandie and other French-speaking countries.

When he was in his mid-fifties, he passed his aviator’s licence, reveling in the emotion of his aerial arabesques and the thrill of the miniaturised view of life on earth.

Julien-François Zbinden in front of a Piper L4, initiation to landing (Glacier des Diablerets, 11.12.1975). (Photo: ZvG)

Julien-François Zbinden at the piano, January 2017. (Photo: ZvG)

On reaching retirement age, Julien-François Zbinden left the RSR and devoted himself heart and soul to composing (he would write over one hundred works), to his friends, to travelling and writing (an impressive bibliography and two more recent books), not to forget recording two recent jazz albums on the piano (TCB Montreux).

He was President of the Association des Musiciens suisses (1973 to 1979) and of SUISA from 1987 to 1991.

Julien-François Zbinden is also a valuable living memory, a well of knowledge, a man of letters who has observed and analysed his times with great perspicacity. His musical works have been played worldwide and are published by major European publishing houses (since 1988, all his new works have been published in Switzerland by Editions Bim).

We hope that the Swiss musical world, in the Romandie in particular, will not forget this exceptional artist and will continue to pass on his works to future generations of musicians and music-lovers in our country.

Read (much) more about Julien-François Zbinden: www.jfzbinden.ch

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Julien-François Zbinden is a pianist, composer, writer and … 100 years’ old. On 11 November 2017, the honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his centennial birthday. For the occasion, the guest author Jean-Pierre Mathez has been invited to review the jubilarian’s life and work.

Julien-François Zbinden: 100 years' old!

Julien-François Zbinden, former President and now honorary member of SUISA will celebrate his 100th birthday on 11 November 2017 (Photo: Yvan Ischer)

Ford Model T year 1913. (Photo: Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock.com)

Julien-François Zbinden was born on 11 November 1917, nine years after the Ford T. He was a privileged and attentive witness to the extra-ordinary technological, artistic, moral and spiritual developments which revolutionised Man’s life on this planet during his lifetime.

His musical adventure started with his beloved piano. In his own words:

“Still today, it shares my passion for jazz music,...read more

Composition in time and space

On Saturday, 23 September 2017, during the Basel Biennale Zeiträume (‘spaces in time’), which unifies new music and architecture, one female and three male composers will discuss at an open platform how their works are created. Text by Erika Weibel

Composition in time and space

The Basel Biennale for new music and architecture hosts a composer panel under the title “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017 at 3.00pm. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

From 16 to 24 September 2017, Basel is opening its doors to an exciting listening experience: New music can be heard in the most unusual nooks and crannies of Basel’s alleys. Both young and old are invited to participate in this musical adventure. There is, for example, the indoor swimming pool performance of “Wasserspiel” (Compositions and improvisations for changing line-ups in the indoor swimming pool Spiegelfeld Binningen), but you can also enjoy the experience of an Alpine horn concert on the Basel Münsterplatz. Museums, towers, even cemeteries open their doors to the new music and provide the public with the opportunity to enjoy a completely new perception of time and space.

The festival Zeiträume stands out by commissioning composers to create works for pre-determined event spaces which will then have their première during the festival. The attentive listener does therefore not only benefit from listening to a variety of premières, but can witness which effect and impact the actual event space has had on the work of the composers.

Composer panel

A female and three male composers whose works have their premières during this year’s Biennale, will exchange their views during the public discussion “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017. How much have you been inspired by the event spaces in terms of composing your work? How do the works come into existence and for whom are they written? The composers speak of their work and provide information on their new works which they have created for the festival.

Free entrance – reservation required

Grab the opportunity to listen to the exchange of ideas among composers and to ask questions. You are also cordially invited to the ensuing aperitif where you can join in the continuation of philosophical conversations on the topic of creating compositions in time and space.

Werkraum Warteck PP / Restaurant Don Camillo, Burgweg 7, 4058 Basel
23 September, 3.00pm
Panel participants: Beat Gysin, Junghae Lee, Mario Pagliarani, Balthasar Streiff
Presentation: Bernhard Günther

Further information and a programme of the festival Zeiträume can be accessed at: www.zeitraeumebasel.com

The composers’ panel will be presented by SUISA.

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Marcel Oetiker: “I often get inspired when I am travelling” | plus videoMarcel Oetiker: “I often get inspired when I am travelling” | plus video At the Zurich station, Hardbrücke, trains rush past, screech in the bends, and groan when starting up and when braking. But Marcel Oetiker has not chosen this as a meeting point because such sounds inspire some artists to take a creative flight of fancy. Read more

 

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On Saturday, 23 September 2017, during the Basel Biennale Zeiträume (‘spaces in time’), which unifies new music and architecture, one female and three male composers will discuss at an open platform how their works are created. Text by Erika Weibel

Composition in time and space

The Basel Biennale for new music and architecture hosts a composer panel under the title “creating spaces in time” on 23 September 2017 at 3.00pm. (Photo: Anna Katharina Scheidegger)

From 16 to 24 September 2017, Basel is opening its doors to an exciting listening experience: New music can be heard in the most unusual nooks and crannies of Basel’s alleys. Both young and old are invited to participate in this musical adventure. There is, for example, the indoor swimming pool performance of “Wasserspiel” (Compositions and improvisations for changing line-ups in the indoor swimming...read more

Marcel Oetiker: “I often get inspired when I am travelling” | plus video

At the Zurich station, Hardbrücke, trains rush past, screech in the bends, and groan when starting up and when braking. But Marcel Oetiker has not chosen this as a meeting point because such sounds inspire some artists to take a creative flight of fancy. Text: guest author Markus Ganz; Video: Manu Leuenberger

“I use public transport when I am travelling for work purposes and often go through Zurich”, explains the composer and Schwyzerörgeli (diatonic button accordion used in Swiss folk music) virtuoso from Altendorf. “Travelling can be very inspiring. I make a note of my ideas, if possible, on my laptop or a piece of paper.”

Marcel Oetiker does also not believe that influences like those sounds have left their mark on the new Swiss folk music, the genre he is associated with. In his opinion, it’s more important that you study your type of music and then apply what you learned when you compose – “this makes it possible to open even this genre to a new perspective.”

From folk music to Jazz studies

Marcel Oetiker is a good example for this. The self-taught musician played traditional Landler music at a very young age and quickly rose in that scene. That way, he got to an area where you orientate yourself more on the music itself than its entertainment value.

“To extract a tangible maximum from a status quo which resists the many repetitions as long as possible – that was and is the level of folk music which fascinated me.” He has stuck to this approach until today.

He got to know new possibilities through his Jazz studies at the Berne University of Arts, which he completed with a Master in composition and theory. “Jazz offers much more differentiated harmonics and especially a theory model in order to be able to control and write down the various harmonic effects of music.” You can even hear a certain proximity to New Music at times, he would like to be able to use the entire spectrum of composition-related possibilities.

From notation to acoustic musical scores

This has also changed the way Marcel Oetiker composes his works. He hardly bases his works on a classical motif because he does not want to linger in one specific composition style. That way, he moves away from the conventional notation and tries increasingly to “remain entirely on the acoustic level.” His approach is to provide performing artists an acoustic music score, for example, which he creates with instruments or sounds.

Marcel Oetiker also develops works for several musicians. “It is not like it is for a typical band, where you tinker on a piece together. The compositions emerge from specific events and are not always continuously annotated but may also include instructions.” Marcel Oetiker stresses that the pieces are nevertheless usually rather elaborate and don’t allow for a lot of leeway.

First the music, then the money

Marcel Oetiker is a professional musician. Apart from his composer activities, he conducts several ensembles and lectures in a variety of educational institutions. “If I had wanted to become rich quickly, I shouldn’t be active in such unusual music genres. I never intended to live off music – but for music.”

He therefore appreciates it even more that he can leave the management of his copyright to SUISA. “It takes a lot of administrative activities off my shoulders. That is exactly what I need in order tofocus even more on the music.” He has been particularly impressed by the advisory services. “I have always received a helpful answer when I approached SUISA with a question. And I have never got an invoice for this service – where else do you still get that?”

www.marceloetiker.com

“Where the music is new”

The value of the ideas of music creators is the centrepiece of SUISA’s work. For the brochure “Where the music is new”, five personalities and bands from various musical genres and Swiss language regions provided insights into their artistic creation process and their musical activities. Apart from Marcel Oetiker, Camilla Sparksss, Oliver Waespi, Eriah and Carrousel will be presented via the SUISAblog.ch and in the brochure, first published in 2015.

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  1. Julien Gilliand says:

    Finde das Gespräch interessant und spannend, leider finde ich die Bilder nicht optimal, wie z.B. Bildausschnitte, Kameraführung und Farben sind zu wenig ausgearbeitet und ausgesucht… Zum Teil auch sehr sehr wackelige Bilder, dass mehr Verwirrung stiftet als was anderes…
    Bei der Mikrophonierung hätte ich Anstecker gewählt, die weniger Nebengeräusche aufnehmen. Wenn keine Vorhanden waren, dann hätte ich die Richt-Mikrophone nicht auf die Gleise gerichtet, da sobald ein Zug kommt, man ihn kaum mehr versteht, Zudem finde ich, gehören sie nicht ins Bild (es ist ja keine PK…) Vielleicht hätte es ein geeigneter Interview-Platz auch nicht schlecht getan…

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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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At the Zurich station, Hardbrücke, trains rush past, screech in the bends, and groan when starting up and when braking. But Marcel Oetiker has not chosen this as a meeting point because such sounds inspire some artists to take a creative flight of fancy. Text: guest author Markus Ganz; Video: Manu Leuenberger

“I use public transport when I am travelling for work purposes and often go through Zurich”, explains the composer and Schwyzerörgeli (diatonic button accordion used in Swiss folk music) virtuoso from Altendorf. “Travelling can be very inspiring. I make a note of my ideas, if possible, on my laptop or a piece of paper.”

Marcel Oetiker does also not believe that influences like those sounds have left their mark on the new Swiss folk music, the genre he is associated with....read more

In Gedenken an Erwin Ernst Kunz

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