“A mensch, in Yiddish, is a person of integrity, morality, dignity, with a sense of what is right and responsible. But mensch is more than just an old Yiddish adage. It is relevant now, across the world, more than ever… To be a mensch is to be supportive. To be a friend, to be calm in troubled times. To support others.” – The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, Arbitrator, Mediator, UN Official
Sergei Redkin, Gwendolyn, Leonard Elschenbroich. Photo: Sára Timár
On occasion when I’m asked what I think the ideal system of government is, I answer: chamber music. Though that answer might seem baffling to some, in my experience there are few interpersonal forms of expression that demand, by their very nature, the kind of mutual respect, honesty, and ability to listen that chamber music demands. When embarked upon with aspiration to create significant art, chamber music also requires consensus amongst the players: that compromise is the far friendlier and more constructive alternative to dissension.
For an artist to “give in” and be empathetic to a different opinion than their own, indeed, to incorporate that different opinion into their collectively-made art piece is a very big deal. Why? Because sacrificing one’s (artistic) opinion, to be open to another person’s opinion requires so many elements:
- the willingness to consider alternatives after having already spent a lifetime building a unique artistic identity
- the strength to try something new, different or even something one does not like
- the ability to let go
- the faculty to practice self-criticism
- the capacity to relinquish the craving for getting one’s way, and along that path to discover that someone else’s thoughts may be more meaningful, or beautiful, or simply exist and deserve space too.
Compromise is not the reason I began the GAIA Music Festival. Community, creativity, connection, singular experiences, to be freed from the battleground of artifice and illusiveness, the possibility to walk in truth, to be a catalyst for change, to promote peaceful communication, and ultimately, to render stellar performances, is why I began GAIA.
Sandro Meszaros, Jiska Lambrecht, Gwendolyn, Markus Fleck, Patrick Moriarty, Lars Schaper, Abigel Kralik, Martin Moriarty, Fabio di Casola, Selen Schaper. Photo: Sára Timár
This past May during the festival we reached an almost tangible connective tissue of friendship, one lasting far beyond the festival’s ten-day scope: both amongst the artists as well as the audience. Our concerts and fringe events were transformative.
I would like to thank all those who shared the festival with me, who are building this festival with me, who support, encourage, and protect its existence, who walk this path, and who, like me, cannot wait for the next festival.
Erika Stucky, Garth Knox, Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Gwendolyn
My dear friend, Peter Sheppard Skærved, who performed at this year’s festival, recently wrote about his experience of it. You can read it here alongside his photos and sketches.
In 2024, the festival takes place between 26 April and 5 May. In our 15th edition we look at “Mensch.” Be a mensch is a reminder of the impact that kindness, humility, integrity and personal responsibility can have on the world. “Mensch” is a call for the lessons of history to inspire humanity and empathy. Artists joining us include Lukas Bärfuss, Söndörgő, Miklós Lukács, Amandine Beyer, Danae Dörken, Minna Pensola, Antti Tikkanen, Nicolas Dautricourt, Jonian Ilias Kadesha, Jiska Lambrecht, Gareth Lubbe, Martin Moriarty, Benedict Klöckner, Amy Norrington, Vashti Hunter, Sandro Meszaros, Lars Schaper, and Alpinis, the folk music ensemble of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Commissioned composers include Antoine Auberson, Ákos Hoffmann, and Daniel Schnyder. More news about musicians, composers and partners follow after summer.
07 June 2023 | 15:00
Clara Schumann | Romanzen, op.22
Robert Schumann | Aus Fantastiestücke für Klavier, op. 12
Johannes Brahms | Violinsonate Nr.3 in d-Moll, op. 108
Marguerite Roesgen-Champion | Hymne
César Franck | Sonate für Klavier und Violine in A-Dur
Burgerspittel |Berne, CH
23 June 2023 | 17:30
Johan Halvorsen | Passacaglia, op. 20 no. 2.
Peter Tchaikovsky | Souvenir de Florence, op. 70
With Matthew Chambers (violin), Martin Moriarty and Sam Matzner (violas), Tommaso Verlinghieri and Sandro Meszaros (cellos).
Sandrain | Berne, CH
Friday – Friday
30 – 07 June 2023
Concerts and Masterclasses with Nina Schumann (piano), Andrey Baranov (violin), Nicholas Dautricout (violin),Frederike Saeijs (violin), Jennifer Stumm (viola), David Cohen (cello), Peter Martens (cello), Knut Erik Sundquist (bass), YaoGuang Zhai (clarinet), Demarre McGill (flute).
Stellenbosch | SA
Meatpacking District, NYC
In an effort to outsmart the annual post-festival blues, my family and I went to NYC immediately after the GAIA Music Festival. I have glamourised the city all my life. As a child I couch-traveled through a mountain of movies, books, fashion magazines and coffee table books, and architecture tomes, and devoured the music that America produced: from the kitsch of Dolly Parton, to the unspeakable cool of Jeff Buckley, from the politically-pointed Ani di Franco to the bubble pop of Madonna. Quincy Jones, the Jackson siblings, the mononyms Prince, Miles, Ella, Ellington, Bernstein, the style directions of rap, hip hop, R‘n’B and rock ‘n roll… on and on the list goes.
In my mind, I have breakfasted at Tiffany’s, sat on park benches in Central Park anxiously awaiting a future love interest (que countless films from “Manhattan” to “When Harry Met Sally”), Bee-Gee’d feverishly through Saturday Nights, seen ghosts at Hook and Ladder’s TriBeCa firehouse, laughed with stand-up comedians (and ridden in their cars whilst getting coffee), sifted through vintage at “What Goes Around Comes Around” with SJP while sipping on The Odeon’s Cosmo, toted a New Yorker tote, flipped the page of the New York Times with my Americano, and stared at the New York skyline like Tony Soprano.
What struck me on my return to Europe was the sense of calm the Big Apple lends me. I’ve heard from friends that at the end of a day in NYC they feel exhausted by the impressions they’ve collected throughout the day, by the insatiable pace of life, the abundance of smells, tastes, conversations, sounds, and so on.
For some, a trip to the desert is a way to unwind and untangle from the noise of daily life. The silence of the sand is a welcoming blanket under which they crawl, where only the flickering stars in the night sky create a sense of sound.
However, for a person with tinnitus, a trip to the desert is a reminder of the eternal noise in their head.
In New York, I found peace – a quieting of my mind. Like a blank page, I collected images, ideas, objects, and felt happily satiated, never feeling the need to make sense of it all. I just took it all in with the happy smile of a Cheshire cat, feeling weightless.
Listen to the playlist here.