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MaerzMusik – Festival of Contemporary Music

16 to 25 March 2007

ALPENMUSIK ↔ STADTMUSIK ↔ TURMMUSIK: MaerzMusik 2007 will focus on the distinctions but also the interplay between things local and global, rural and urban, between the remoteness of the mountains and urban density, between the sounds of nature and the background noises of civilisation. Music from the alpine regions – primarily from Switzerland but also including artists from Austria, Northern Italy and Slovenia will illustrate this dialectical discourse. The selection traces the idea of how alpine landscapes and local traditional cultures are reflected in new music – be it in a direct or in a very subtle manner, or even in the form of conscious negation or parody – as a source of inspiration and material or as an analogy. On the other hand, it deals with the question of how to keep, preserve and re-interpret traditional folk music.

The festival will be opened by fichten., an orchestral space installation by Klaus Lang from Graz, placing its audience in a stylised forest and enveloping it in misty orchestral sounds that might conjure up images of foggy hillsides. “Tone”, “intonation”, image and alpine dialects will constitute the subtle common keynote of a programme compiled by Collegium Novum Zürich presenting works by Swiss, Austrian, and German composers. Similar keynotes will be struck by Ensemble Resonanz from Hamburg, among others presenting a “Gebirgsmusik” (mountain music) by HK Gruber, by a first performance of a piece for 24 “re-tuned” strings by Edu Haubensak, and a new work by Beat Furrer. The Ensemble Contrechamps from Geneva, performing in Berlin for the first time, will paint a vivid portrait of Stefano Gervasoni from Bergamo, framed by works of doyen Klaus Huber and young Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber from Western Switzerland.

For most of us, life in a big city has become a kind of second nature. Cities are places of innovation, experiment, communication, anonymity. Cities are vast mines of music, sounds and noises. Cities – like the Alps – are readable and walkable landscapes, with peaks, valleys, ravines, plains and caves. Hikers and mountaineers are replaced by city strollers. Projects emanating urban intensity can be absorbed mainly in the night sessions of SONIC ARTS LOUNGE. Hardcore Chambermusic, the label of Swiss trio Koch-Schütz-Studer will – metonymically – get to the core of a new type of ensemble music at the intersection of composition and improvisation, acoustic instruments and digital technology. Moreover, MaerzMusik will present Polwechsel, Steamboat Switzerland and the workshop project grep, as well as a lounge with Linux electronic technicians. A contrasting event will be the night time performance of an organ concert by Austrian action artist Hermann Nitsch at Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche.

Not only church towers but every kind of tower represents the fright and delight of striving for higher things, for elevation, for view and overview, but also stands for risk-taking and arrogance – quite comparable to the enthusiastic feeling of high-flying it to the summit. Towers replace mountains. The top of TURMMUSIK will quite literally be presented by Babylonische Schleife (Babylonian Loop), designed by Moritz Gagern for the revolving restaurant of the Berlin television tower. Walking in the limits by Heinz Reber will look down from the 30th floor of a hotel at Alexanderplatz onto life, love, separation, society. Several other music theatre projects will combine the main themes of the festival with (auto)biographical motives. In a first performance of Physics for the Girl in the Street Jennifer Walshe from Ireland will blend her own voice and obscure recordings of real and unreal persons into an enigmatic, mesmerising séance. Mela Meierhans will let Tante Hänsi (aunt Hänsi) talk about the handling of death and the dead in her remote home valley – the yodelling and cheering of 19 farmers and craftsmen from Inner Switzerland can surely move mountains.

Matthias Osterwold

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