A proton is a positively charged particle and an essential component of all atoms. Ensemble Proton Bern is a positively charged collective of musicians and an essential component of the contemporary classical music scene.
The number of protons in an atom determine its chemical element. The eight musicians of Ensemble Proton Bern come together to create new elements in every work that they play and explore their musical properties. The city of Bern plays host to this laboratory and on the banks of the Aare River, the ensemble performs as Ensemble in Residence at the Dampfzentrale Bern four to six times per season.
Ensemble Proton Bern performs by invitation at international festivals or at the request of international presenters. Highlights of recent years include a three-week tour of the USA West Coast, festivals in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Germany, Ukraine as well as performances at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Concert Hall or live at Radio Belgrade's Studio 6 in Serbia.
In Switzerland, performances at Gare du Nord Basel, Fonderie Kugler Geneva, Walcheturm Zurich, in Lucerne, Lausanne and collaborations with Ensemble Contrechamps, Ensemble Vortex and Basel Vokalsolisten are testimony to the importance of the collective. Ensemble Proton Bern has recorded music for CD release on labels such as Musiques Suisses and Kairos.
Ensemble Proton Bern's eager spirit of research is at the heart of every single programme: world premieres have been the ensemble's main drive from the very beginning. The extraordinary—and exceptionally appealing—line-up of four string and four woodwind instruments has inspired composers such as Samuel Andreyev, Antoine Chessex, Thomas Kessler, Dominique Schafer, Annette Schmucki and Gérard Zinsstag in creating new, innovative musical works. Further collaborations have taken place with Beat Furrer, Heinz Holliger and Hanspeter Kyburz.
One of the most important platforms maintained by the ensemble and supported by Pro Helvetia is the annual composition competition, Protonwerk, in which young composers are selected to develop new works with and for the ensemble. This unique way of promoting young talent embodies collaboration from the very first sketch to the first performances and results in tailor-made works for this one-of-a-kind group. Certain compositions progress to become part of the ensemble's core repertoire, such as Andreas Eduardo Frank's samouraï progressive (2016) and Tobias Krebs' primum mobile (2015).
These eight musicians bring together wide-ranging technical and artistic expertise. Their instruments range from the complete array of flutes and clarinets to lupophone and contraforte, from the rare Stroh violin and Stroh cello to Moog synthesiser and electroacoustic harp.
An openness towards and aptitude for everything 'new' range from musical to electronic means. Since its founding in 2010, Ensemble Proton Bern has nourished its very own YouTube channel, releasing videos now with a total of over 100 000 views, an exceptional achievement for a new music ensemble. This comprehensive archive positions the ensemble as a digital centre of excellence for contemporary ensemble music and is accessible via the Ensemble Proton website.
Ensemble Proton Bern can be heard and seen at www.ensembleproton.ch, on Swiss Radio and Television (SRF/RTS), on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, neo.mx3, Instagram and, ideally, experienced live in concert.