Month of modern music in Basel

Conductor and composer Pierre Boulez is a leading advocate of contemporary music Keystone Archive

Basel is hosting a "Month of European Music" throughout November in the biggest project of its kind to take place in Switzerland.

This content was published on November 8, 2001 - 08:08

During the month, 50 young composers will be introduced to a wide public through premières of their work. The programme includes appearances by such well-known leading ensembles as the Ensemble Modern Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez, the Ensemble Intercontemporain from Paris, the London Sinfonietta, the Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt and the Klangforum Wien.

The organisers say new music speaks to people directly - in the language of today. But while reflecting the impressions and feelings of our time it does not enjoy the popularity of other contemporary art forms.

A major aim is to sensitise ears used to more popular - and "catchy" - music to the beauty and expressiveness of new, unfamiliar sounds. "We have set ourselves the task of removing the fear of the new that is felt by large sections of the public where contemporary music is concerned", says commercial director Toni Klein.

New theatre

The focus of the event will be the new musical theatre which has been especially adapted by award-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. But other venues are equally important.

Klein says some of the commissioned works will be performed in surroundings better known in a different context. These range from the new St Jakob's soccer stadium to clinics and prisons, taking in all manner of public places including restaurants and art galleries on the way.

In addition a series of workshops are to be held in schools and companies throughout the Basel region, enabling people of all ages to experiment with sounds, regardless of their musical experience, and thus develop their individual listening habits.

"This is what makes the event so unique," says festival director Matthias Bamert. "It's not just about the new music of a new generation of composers, but rather about finding new, exciting and fascinating ways of communicating this music".

by Richard Dawson

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