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50e Concours International d'Execution Musicale Genève (CIEM) 1994 - 50th International Competition For Musical Performers Geneva (CIEM) 1994

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As a hommage to Ernest Ansermet, the 1994 CIEM was exclusively laid out as competition for conductors. First-prize winner was American conductor Alan Gilbert. He is featured on this recording, along with other noteworthy contestants, in performances of contemporary works by Swiss composers.

This content was published on January 17, 2008 - 10:34

In 1994, the 25th anniversary of the year in which Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet died, the organizing committee of CIEM decided to forego all instrumental and vocal competitions in favor of organizing the 3th conducting competition. This in honour of the founder of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. That years event evolved into a major success due to a great many people, in particular General Secretary Franco Fisch.

The organisation of preliminary examinations in Moscow, Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires, Cologne and Geneva and the following three stages of examinations involving three different orchestras as well as vocal and instrumental soloists was an immense task.

The CIEM jury awarded the first prize to young American conductor Alan Gilbert. Two other noteworthy prize-winners were Kai Bumann (Germany) and Marc Kissoczy (Switzerland).

The candidates had to master Dvorák's Slavonic Dances, Ravel's Ma Mère L'Oye and Brahm's Variation's on a Theme by Haydn. This programme was followed by works of Swiss composers and eight Haydn symphonies. Final concerts in Geneva included Berlioz' Roman Carnival Ouverture, Schumann's four symphonies and a work of their choice from a list representative of Ernest Ansermet's 20th century repertoire.

Alan Gilbert mastered all of these examinations with bravura.

Alan Gilbert

First-prize winner Alan Gilbert was born in New York in 1967 and studied the violin. He was a substitute at the Philadelphia Orchestra and assistant concert master for the Santa Fe Opera. From 1987-88 he participated in the Tanglewood Festival Seminar for orchestral conducting. Additional studies followed with O.-W. Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he received his diploma in 1992, and at the Julliard School of Music. In May 1994 Gilbert was named C. von Dohnanyi's assistant at the Cleveland Orchestra. After winning the CIEM 1994 a active career took its path. From 2000-2008 Gilbert became the chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. On July 18, 2007, the New York Philharmonic named Gilbert as its next music director for a five years tenure, effective with the 2009-2010 season. When he assumes this role, he will be the first native New Yorker to hold the title.

Compositions by Swiss Composers

The organising committee at the CIEM and the Swiss Musicians' Association, who have collaborated with each other for many years, decided to feature compositions by Swiss composers during the semi-finals in Bienne. Eight compositions by eight Swiss composers from the four national regions were commissioned especially for the examination concerts which took place within the framework of the Bienne Summer Concert Series. This recording exclusively presents these contemporary Swiss works.

Geneviève Calame (1946-93)

Following classical studies and a diploma in piano, Geneviève Calame studied further with Guido Agosti in Rome and in Sienna. She studied composition with Jacques Guyonnet from 1971 and developed a special interest in innovative electronic intrumental techniques. In 1971 she founded, together with Jacques Guyonnet (whom she married meanwhile), the studio for electronic music, video and information technology under the name A.R.T (Artistic Research Team).
Calame developed a new method of teaching electronic music to children, which she herself taught between the years 1975 and 1993 at the "l'Ecole Supérieure d'Art Visuel" in Geneva. In 1976 she became president of the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM), Geneva section. Calame has been showing her work, which also contains audio visual installations, since 1971 in the whole of Europe, the United States and South America.

Fritz Voegelin (1943)

Born in Zurich. Receives diplomas as violinist (at the Berne conservatory), conductor (Basel) and composition (as student of Klaus Huber and Robert Suter).
In 1984 move to Colombia as artistical director of the Colombia National Conservatory. Professor for conducting. Conducts the "Orquesta Sinfonica de Antioquia" and the "National Philharmonic of Venezuela". Returns to Switzerland
in 1992. Works as composer and conductor.

Eric Gaudibert (1936)

Eric Gaudibert studied piano and composition at the Lausanne Conservatory. Further studies followed at the "Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris" (piano with Alfred Cortot and composition with Nadia Boulanger). Until 1969 he was active as a pianist and composer in Paris. In collaboration with the "Radio-Télévision Suisse Romande" he entered the field of electronic music. In 1989 Gaudibert was awarded the Composer's Prize of the swiss Musicians' Association for his lifetime work. From 1999 to 2004 he was professor for composition at the Geneva Conservatory.

Eric Gaudibert about the featured composition: "Multiple cells, motives, spots of colour (the harp, violin and percussion instruments) take shape and begin to develop into a dialogue and assume a purpose of being".

Renzo Rota (1950)

Renzo Rota studied at the Zurich Conservatory and at the Zurich "Musikhochschule". Renzo Rota has twice represented Switzerland at the "Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs".

Renzo Rota about the featured composition: "For many years my interest has centered on the phenomenon of the flow of time...The piece consists of a progressive slowing down (rallentamento)...(Its) title (Colour-frame) is derived from television terminology, and refers to one of the periodic signals that makes up the image".

Balz Trümpy (1946)

Balz Trümpy studied music at the Music Academy in Basel, receiving diplomas in piano (with Paul Baumgartner) and composition and music theory (with Robert Suter). Afterwards he studied with Luciano Berio in Rome, becoming his assistant. Multiple stays led him to the IRCAM in Paris.
Since 1979 Balz Trümpy is professor for music theory and composition at the "Hochschule für Musik" in Basel. from 1982 to 1987 he was its vice director.
In August 2006 he won the Lucerne composer's contest, celebrating the 200 years existence of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. This awarded work "Im Dialog mit Beethoven" had its premiere on 20 June 2007. Balz Trümpy lives in Nuglar near Basel.

Balz Trümpy about the featured composition: "Nachtgesang arose as a result of my occupation with Gregorian chant and is dedicated to Christopher Schmidt, who opened the doors to this wonderful world of chant for me".

William Blank (1957)

William Blank completed his musical studies at the Geneva Conservatory in percussion, composition and piano. Thereafter he became professor for percussion. William Blank was the principal percussionist of the "Orchestre de la Suisse Romande" from 1983 to 2001. William Blank is currently professor of composition and musical analysis at the Conservatoire and Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne. His works have been performed all over Europe, as well as the United States and Japan, in prestigious halls such the KKL of Lucerne, the Tonhalle Zurich, the Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Musikverein Vienna etc.

Jost Meier (1939)

Jost Meier studied cello at the conservatories in Bienne and Berne. He was cellist with the "Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra" and the "Camerata Bienne". From early on Jost Meier interest were caught by composing music. First steps he did under the guidance of Frank Martin in the Netherlands. In 1969 Jost Meier received the Composition Prize of the ORTF in Paris. Besides he became the principal conductor of the Bienne Orchestral society and Music Theatre from 1969-79, and the conductor of the Basel Opera from 1980-83. In 1984 he received the "Prix du Festival de Lausanne".He teaches at the Basel Music Academy and at the Zurich Conservatory. In addition to chamber music and orchestral works, he writes increasingly for the stage: a.o. "Sennentuntschi", "Der liebe Augustin", "Der Drache" (after Gogol), "Dreyfus - The Affair" (premiered at the "Deutsche Oper" in Berlin in 1994).

Jost Meier about the featured composition: "A l'origine is music which is in search of the source of its origination through simplification".

Rudolf Kelterborn (1931)

After studying theory, composition and conducting at the Music Academy in Basel, Rudolf Kelterborn completed his training with composers Günther Bialas, Willy Burkhard, Boris Blacher and Wolfgang Fortner and conductor Igor Markevitch. Thereafter Kelterborn was professor for theory and composition at several Swiss and German music academies: Basel, Detmold, Zürich and Karlsruhe. Besids he directed the music department of Swiss Radio DRS. From 1983-94 he was the director of the Music Academy in Basel. In 1987, together with Heinz Holliger and Jürg Wyttenbach, he was a co-founder of the "Basler Musik Forum". In addition to this, Rudolf Kelterborn is very active as a composer and conductor.

Background information on the Geneva CIEM

In 1939 Swiss composer Henri Gagnebin and Frédéric Liebstoeckl founded the International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva. After Second World war it soon became one of the world's most prestigious competitions. The inaugural competition included seven categories (bassoon, voice, clarinet, flute, oboe, piano and violin) and was carried through in two stages. The final concert was broadcast by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and by the National Broadcasting Corporation in New York.

The Geneva competition has contunially profited from a close co-operation with leading musicians and orchestras. Eminent Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (along with the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande) was an ardent advocate of the competition, often appearing on the rostrum himself to accompany young performers.

The collaboration with outstanding musicians also extends to the jury. Over fifty highly respected specialists are involved in the evaluation process each year. They make a major contribution to the outstanding international reputation of the CIEM.

The promotion of Swiss music has also always been one of the primary goals of the Geneva competition. The set selection of pieces from which candidates choose always includes music by Swiss composers (specially commissioned in co-operation with the Swiss Musician's Association). Over 150 new works have been composed specifically for the competition (including Frank Martin, Heinz holliger, Willy Burkhard etc.).

The city and canton of Geneva and the Swiss Federal government have supported the Geneva competition since its inception. Additional support of eminence was provided by major companies.

Production information

1994 International Competition for Musical Performers Geneva (1994). Musica Helvetica MH CD 84.2. Produced for SRI by Christian Strickler.

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