It’s the second week of May — a week particularly significant to me and seven faithful members of a committee, as well as sponsors, donors, friends, musicians, artists, arts administrators, and photographers. It’s the week that GAIA Music Festival should have taken place.
Since its inception in 2006, the GAIA experience has become an effervescent melting pot of ideas and impulses, designed as a heightened experience for both musicians and their audiences. More than one hundred fifty musicians and artists have stepped into the microcosmos of intensive music-making and music-sharing that we create annually. The festival offers a nine-day framework for musicians from all over the globe to gather and rehearse established, rarely-played, contemporary and specially-commissioned repertoire – and traditionally, the festival takes place in the first week of May.
The festival, and the venues where it plays, wind through Thun to mark spring’s first light breeze. An occasion to connect through a celebration of music. After postponing the festival three times since the beginning of COVID-19 in Western Europe, we are quietly hopeful that we can finally play again. Tickets go on sale soon. Please sign up for the GAIA newsletter in order to (re-)connect and to listen to us live between 25-29 August 2021!
In March 2021, one year after my family and I went into lockdown, pianist Vera Kooper and I were in a position to begin rehearsing again. We made our way to an atelier. In it, an untuned piano, audience chairs stacked and dusty. I decided to document the occasion, surprisingly, because I oftentimes prefer to record a polished performance to a rough one. The words of David Lynch went through my head as I looked around and found nothing but my smart phone. I sighed. Never mind. This time was different. This moment of music, a year to the day after concert halls fell silent, felt intimate and privately important. I have often asked myself in lockdown, "What will we sound like when we return to the stage? What music will we choose to play? Which first notes will resonate as we merge our voices?” You can listen to this moment by clicking here.
I have uploaded it, not because I think it’s our best performance, but because it marks the space where GAIA usually sounds…
I recall, distinctly, the day in March 2020 that I realised that life was about to change as I stood with my friend and collaborator Lukas Bärfuss on the side of a street in Zurich, watching swarms of people move like a murmuration, whispered in to their homes by the virus. You can read my blog post about that by clicking here.
The Exhale continues to provide music lovers from all over the world with a safe space to learn with some of the brightest minds of our profession. We have offered music, movement and holistic education since the start of the pandemic and continue to do so at rates that reflect how musicians have been affected by the crisis. If you feel able to donate to the crowdfunding campaign that we have begun, please do. Any donation will make an impact. Please visit our campaign by clicking here for more information as to why we really need support.
Don’t be fooled by the abundance we deliver and correlate it to financial success. The Exhale’s wealth is the dedication given by more than ninety international faculty members who share their vast experience and expertise with conviction and civil courage. It comes at great personal cost to all those who prepare their classes for hours on end in order to supply excellence in teaching every time a new, interactive zoom session at The Exhale begins. It takes great personal strength to understand how vulnerable one is in the spotlight of webcam scrutiny, demonstrating tricks from a seemingly endless well of wisdom to classes filled with students whose only lifeline to education this past year, in many cases, has been through The Exhale. The faculty and team of volunteers who bring us this fantastical world, just a click away, deserve recognition for being there for our community during a time of crisis. Please consider a helping hand.
I am so glad we are connected. This year, in and out of various different stages of lockdown, I’v been inspired to write again. Expression of our innermost being takes many forms. Let me know your stories about this past year, how you feel, what you have and are still experiencing. I’m listening.