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Contemporary Music in Berlin: An Artist’s View

Violinist Ekkehard Windrich, a violinist in the KNM Ensemble Berlin, answers questions about audiences and performing in Berlin.

Are people in Berlin interested in contemporary music or in cutting edge compositions?

I think finding an audience in Berlin is not very difficult, even if you do quite exciting projects. To find that audience is not the problem. Perhaps it’s a bit more difficult to keep that audience and not just to be a fashion. … I’m convinced that we are generally in a very interesting point of music history, and Berlin is one of the centers of this development. In the last 10 years, multimedia technology has become affordable for almost everybody, and of course this has a great impact on the work of composers, perhaps the new generation of composers, the first one with electronic music as an integral part of their study. This changes a lot my even my work as a violinist, because now the difficulties in our work are much beyond playing the instrument. Sometimes we have to play in darkness or with a great distance between each of the players. We have to play for a microphone rather than for the audience, because the microphone will feed a software patch. So sometimes we lose a bit the contact to the audience. And we’re still at the beginning of this development. So a composer in Berlin, or in Germany, still needs suitable rooms, he needs very experienced musicians, and he needs an open-minded audience, and of course he needs a bit of money. Luckily, Berlin still tries to support the scene and even the small groups, even if Berlin is in a quite difficult financial situation. I think that’s one of the reasons why Berlin has a very rich musical scene.

Berlin does not only attract musicians, of course, but artists from other genres as well, who live and work in the city. Does that influence your work in any way, and how does it influence your work?

First of all, the variety of artists in Berlin is simply very inspiring. In addition to that, the cooperation with artists affects quite directly our way of playing. For example, last year we had a cooperation with choreographer Xavier Le Roy. We played Lachenmann’s Mouvement vor der Erstarrung, but we had only to mime the movements of playing, so we played without instruments, and there was complete silence. I hope the audience could listen to the piece without actually hearing it, just because of our movements, which was of course very difficult for us and a completely new experience. But Le Roy was of course very helpful for us and I think this is a good example of the influence in our work.


Ekkehard Windrich describes KNM Berlin’s Hausmusik concerts. Interview by Tamara Tischendorf.

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