New music is the sound of our time, made audible in works by composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, from Schoenberg to Boulez. The fascinating thing about new music is the composers’ readiness to risk form for content, to risk beauty for the thought provoking, to risk habit for experimentation. Daring as opposed to Dvorak.
New music is often considered ‘difficult’ because it appears to challenge the listener only on an intellectual level. The musicians of Ensemble Proton Bern dissolve this misconception with wit and virtuosity, challenging their audience on a sensorial level: with playfully crystalline tones and sounds.
Founded in 2010, Ensemble Proton Bern has established itself as one of the top new music groups. The actual goal is however much greater: they want to bring people closer to new music. To this end, the musicians seek contact to and are able to discuss the contemporary sound world with their audience. It is therefore that Ensemble Proton Bern is so prevalent online: Proton’s concert videos on YouTube have been viewed – most unusually for new music – many thousands of times.
The common ground among the nine core musicians is their passionate curiosity for undiscovered musical terrain. For this reason, Ensemble Proton Bern is specialised in premiering new works. These are often commissioned works tailor-made for the particular Ensemble makeup. The Ensemble boasts being able to offer the rare opportunity to write for special instruments such as lupophone (bass oboe) and contraforte (contrabassoon).
In the search for the ‘new’ in new music, the musicians maintain close contact with well-known composers, but also support exceptional talent. The initiative Protonwerk (sponsored by Pro Helvetia) offers newcomers the chance to have their works played by the Ensemble at the highest level.
Ensemble Proton Bern attracts interest internationally, as was evident in St. Petersburg recently when the cosmopolitan Ensemble from Berne opened the International Festival for New Music reMusik at the legendary Mariinsky Theatre. Upon invitation from Radio France, the group recorded a CD for the label Klarthe in Paris shortly after.
As ongoing Ensemble in residence at the Dampfzentrale Bern, however, the musicians are strongly connected to their hometown. Four times per year, Ensemble Proton Bern invites local audiences to experience freshly prepared concert programmes in the own concert series, Proton am montag.