VENICE BIENNALE PREVIEW
The opening ofthe 59th Venice Art Biennale wil be preceded by a preview including press conference, official opening and VIP previews. Latifa Echakhch’s exhibition “The Concert” at the Swiss Pavillion, co-curated by Francesco Stocchi and Alexandre Babel, in close collaboration with finish lightning designer Anne Weckström will be part of it with a live streamed press conference on the 20th at 2pm, to be seen online here
“THE CONCERT” – RECORDING IN PROCESS
The recording sessions have started at Jazzanova Studio in Berlin for an upcoming release on shelter-press. The Concert is a digital and vinyl release composed by Alexandre Babel in close collaboration with artist Latifa Echakhch. It features significant contributions from the berlin based musicians Rebecca Lenton, Theo Nabicht, Jon Heilbron and Nikki Schlierf. The record is meant to accompany the exhibition at the swiss pavilion of the 59th Venice Art Biennale.
Digital release available through the exhibition catalog on sternberg press, and Vinyl release will be available from november 2022!
JAN PUSTJENS FOCUS DAY
I had the honor to be invited as the master of the Jan Pustjens Focus Day 2022. The Focus Day is a unique opportunity for percussion students from all the conservatories in the Netherlands to meet and present their work. An semi-online version adapted to the pandemic realities was beautifully organized by the Jan Pustjens Foundation, and I had the pleasure to listen and work with the percussion groups from Rotterdam, Tilburg, Den Haag, Maastricht, Groningen, Zwolle, with a great finale by the students from Amsterdam who printed Gerhard Stäbler’s graphical score on t-shirts!
SWISS MUSIC PRIZE LAUREATE 2021
The annual Swiss Music Prize have been revealed! Alexandre Babel is a laureate of this years edition! The swiss music prize “show snapshots of Switzerland’s current musical creativity. But the winners create timeless music, set impulses in the diverse, globally networked music scenes and, as cultural ambassadors, present an open-minded Switzerland at home and abroad. of a swiss music prize 2021”
ONLINE DAMAGE CONTROL
Alexandre Babel’s new piece, “Damage Control”, will be performed for the very first time on two upcoming occasions: on April 23rd, 2021 at Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zürich and on a date that will soon be revealed at BNU (Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire), Strasbourg, as part of the collective lovemusic’s online programme “Fractales”.
The idea for this Franco-Swiss programme came from lovemusic’s wish to collaborate with Alexandre Babel on a new piece, specially written for the collective. Within these online events, lovemusic aims to explore different techniques of stage performance and to encourage the audience to have another perspective on live music…
NEW WORK FOR QUINTET
WORK IN PROGRESS – Working on a new work commissioned by the Strasbourg-based collective lovemusic. The piece will be presented as part of their Franco-Swiss programme entitled “Fractales”. Under the title “Damage Control” this collaborative composition for 5tet is using string and wind instruments as percussive objects, and is constructed around the structures of communication flows.
RECORDING TRISTAN PERICH
The recording of Tristan’s Perich’s 50 minutes piece for 3 vibraphones and 1-bit electronics entitled « Open Symmetry » took place at the OARA (Office Artistique de la Région Nouvelle Aquitaine) in Bordeaux, France. The team was complete! Stéphane Garin, Julien Garin, Alexandre Babel as the vibraphone trio, Lucas Pizzini, as the sound engineer. A production by ensemble 0 and Eklekto Percussion, kindly supported by Bergerault.
LES AMPLITUDES #5 – DÉBORDEMENTS
To close the festival, Alexandre Babel performed his piece « Asphalte », a new drum solo in collaboration with artist and lighting designer Florian Bach. The drum set found itself propelled into the role of soloist to create an eventful discourse between rhythms, impacts, sound textures and resonances.
Alexandre Babel at L’Heure Bleue, La Chaux de Fonds
LES AMPLITUDES #4 – OBSTINATIONS
Four ensemble pieces, three composers and a shared taste for rhythm and repetitive music. At La Chaux de Fonds’ Temple Allemand, the musicians of the NEC ensemble, together with the percussionists of Eklekto, unveiled works that evoke electronic music, urban palpitations or even the murmur of a passing train.
Pieces by Thomas Meadowcroft, Annette Schmucki and Alexandre Babel
LES AMPLITUDES #3 – CARTOGRAPHIES
On the third day of the festival, the minimal and scenographical universe of the collective Radial met the acoustic works of the Japanese master of digital art Ryoji Ikeda for the first time. An evening at the Temple Allemand, which was placed under the sign of musical essence.
Performers: Radial, Eklekto Percussion
LES AMPLITUDES #2 – DÉFERLEMENTS
During the second day of the festival, 50 percussionists took possession of the impressive Usine Électrique of La Chaux-de-Fonds to perform simultaneously the same piece for snare drum: “Field Drum Monument”, by Mio Chareteau. The audience was invited to follow the resonating sound of the drum sticks.
The second half of the opening concert of les Amplitudes festival featured the world premiere of a duo collaboration with australien pianist and composer Anthony Pateras. Pateras and Babel had crossed paths in a number of occasions in the past, but had never shared the stage as a duo unit.
LES AMPLITUDES #1 ÉCLATS
Entitled ÉCLATS, the first day of the festival was devoted to acoustic works for percussion, cello and piano that explore rhythm and sound colours. The composition « Chœur Mixte », written by Alexandre Babel for 15 snare drums, was one of the opening concerts, which took place at the Théâtre L’Heure Bleue.
Performers: Eklekto Percussion, Till Lingenberg, Duo Orion
LES AMPLITUDES October 21-25, 2020
Amplify the music, make it audible, perceptible and tangible. It is now, and perhaps more than ever, time to awaken, to reveal oneself and to resonate. This is the whole intention of this new edition of the Amplitudes Festival in La Chaux-de-Fonds, CH.
Alexandre Babel has elaborated a program including the creations of musicians and composers Caspar Brötzmann, Ryoji Ikeda, Wojtek Blecharz, Mio Chareteau, Thomas Meadowcroft, Radial, Sudden Infant, Annette Schmuki and Anthony Pateras; the screening of animated films by director Delia Hess; the installations by artist and lighting designer Florian Bach; and the interventions of composer and theorist François J. Bonnet aka Kassel Jaeger and visual artist Latifa Echakhch.
Check out the detailed programme here.
SNARE DRUM 4tet
The Amplitudes Festival in la Chaux-de-Fonds will focus this year on Alexandre Babel’s works and compositions. Two brand new works will be presented, one of which is a snare drum quartet to be performed by the Swiss based percussion group Eklekto. It will be part of a concert with Eklekto and le NEC, featuring exclusive works by Thomas Meadowcroft and Annette Schmucki. The composition process has started, in the inspiring Wiesenburg Studio in Berlin.
RYOJI IKEDA / NEW COLLABORATION
The internationally acclaimed electronic composer and artist Ryoji Ikeda is creating 8 new works for acoustic percussion instruments, in collaboration with the percussionists and performers Stéphane Garin, Amélie Grould and Alexandre Babel. The rehearsals have just started this week in Strasbourg and the premiere is due for September 2020 at the Festival Musica Strasbourg. After “Music for percussion 1” (photo) commissioned by Eklekto Percussion and premiered in 2016 at the Bâtie-Festival de Genève, Ikeda is bringing “Music for percussion 2”, an unexpected journey into the sonic possibilities of small percussion instruments, which draw a contrast with his usual large scale video and electronic installations. Stay tuned!
Covid-19 strikes again, La Biennale di Venezia has revealed new dates for the Architecture Biennale as well as for the Art Biennale. While the architectural event will be taking place from May 22nd to November 21st 2021, the Biennale Arte will be held from April 23rd to November 27th 2022. These are major changes but we won’t be discouraged! Swiss artist Latifa Echakhch and her two collaborators, curator Francesco Stocchi and percussionist Alexandre Babel, will hence be more than ready to take you on an acoustic & spatial journey at the Swiss Pavilion of the 59th International Art Exhibition in 2022.
The coronavirus containment measures still allow creation processes for future projects to happen! The working residency #1 for a new solo work with light design by swiss artist Florian Bach has begun in Berlin. This new work, to be premiered on october 25th at the Amplitudes festival, draws a line between acoustic and light articulations.
The difficult times we are all experiencing is highly touching the performing arts. Many events have been canceled or postponed, it might only be the beginning. These times are a good opportunity to question our practices, and the possible future of adventurous music.
Stay healthy, and listen to music at home!
The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has chosen to entrust the Swiss Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia to the artist Latifa Echakhch. The artist herself has asked curator Francesco Stocchi and percussionist Alexandre Babel to join her for the realisation of the exhibition. Together they intend to offer visitors of the Biennale a rhythm-based experience with visual, acoustic and spatial effects.
News from les Amplitudes Festival!
Alexandre Babel will be the invited artist of the 2020 edition of the monographic contemporary music festival held in the city of La Chaux de Fonds in Switzerland focusses on the work of one musician. Babel will present 5 days of concerts, art exhibitions, lectures and performances from October 21st to 25th. Stay tuned!
More infos here:
NEWS FROM HAT HUT
The trio consisting of pianist Hildegard Kleeb, trombone player Roland Dahinden and Alexandre Babel has released a new opus on the newly created label ezz-tetcis! The legendary experimental jazz and contemporary music label Hat Hut is back, in the form of this new series, created by label owner Werner X. Uehlinger. 10 original tracks beautifully recorded by Rainer Robben in Berlin and mixed by Micha de kanter. Liner Notes by Andy Hamilton!