1517 and 2017
The Reformation thoughts, taking up the old heretical voices of the mystics and developing them further, led to a political and inner-church upheaval of unimagined dimensions and later influenced the Enlightenment and secularization.
Today, global economic interests are confronted with tendencies of national isolation and radicalizing religious fundamentalism. In between are people. They are lynched, tortured, incapacitated, expelled or, misled by false hopes for a better life, seduced and forced to flee.
Imagine: an overcrowded boat on the stormy Mediterranean Sea at night. Hundreds of people cry out desperately and perhaps silently for help.
Or listen in on the flames of the burning Grenfell Tower in London.
Woe betide if the voices were to become loud and reach our ears unhindered!
Statements of the reformers Oekolampad Basel | Zwingli Zurich | Haller Bern | Farel Lausanne and Luther | the threat of banishment from Rome | Mallarmé “Le Coup de Dès” | Freud “Why War” | victims of genocide from Myanmar, 2016 | the holy figures of the “Heavenly Court” in the choir vault of the Bern Cathedral | names of Jewish, Christian and Islamic mystics and the first names of a Swiss school were brought together in the composition process and mixed to form the libretto of the space symphony “STEINHIMMEL”.
The church space as an instrument becomes a resonating space, an echoing space, which all those listening, singing, playing make resound through their presence and their devotion and steer, as it were, like Noah’s Ark through the times of the present.
Trabant 2018/19 followed in its outer, organizational form the pattern of the 2016 modified, second Satellite edition, as it had proven itself in every respect. In addition to the 8 candidates, this time we awarded a “wild card” to the (very) young and talented composer Joey Tan, who had come to our attention during our trip to Singapore last fall. Joey participated as a full member of the group, but externally funded and thus not a burden on the adjacent budget.
In an initial module in November 2018, there was room for instrument-specific issues ranging from small instrumentation to balance issues in full instrumentation. Our core members involved were able to pass on their experience and know-how and information about relevant literature directly to the composers present together as a “class”, which fell on very fertile ground.
In a second module – scheduled for January 2019 – the composers arrived partly with sketches, partly with fully developed compositions in their luggage, which were tried out and tested by larger registers and subsequently by the full ensemble. Feedback from Detlev Müller-Siemens, who was present from this point on, from Jürg Henneberger and from members of the ensemble led to a deeper, more intensive examination of the compositional sketches. Erik Oña had to withdraw completely from the project due to his serious illness, and we were able to replace him with Detlev Müller-Siemens, with whom we had already successfully collaborated in the same capacity in the 2016/17 edition.
For the third module (June 2019), all composers provided a finished piece in score and part material (digital and on paper), which 8 of the 9 composers also complied with (Korean’s Ji Hyon Yoon stayed away from the last module for family reasons). In an almost too dense rehearsal phase, the full ensemble rehearsed the eight partly extensive compositions, again with the constant presence of all composers and Detlev Müller-Siemens. On Saturday, June 8, 2019, all compositions were premiered in a deliberately internal concert and recorded simultaneously.
From the candidates, two will be selected as prize-winners for the concert planned for January 2020 in connection with Witlod Lutosławski’s “Chain I”.
In 2020/21, the EPhB conducted its three-part Satellite Workshop for the fourth time, which was successfully held for the first time in 2014/15.
In an international call for compositions, 8 young composers were sought. The collaboration was divided into three modules with workshop character. For a fourth module, two of the participants were selected, who received a regular commission from Ensemble Phoenix Basel within the following season for a work that refers to or comments on a programmed central work of a “modern classic”. In 2021, the work in question is Gérard Grisey’s “Vortex Temporum”.
Swiss composer and improviser Norbert Möslang, who comes from St. Gallen, composed a new work for the inauguration of the “Binary Clock” commissioned by the St. Gallen Building Authority.