The Tyrolean festival Klangspuren Schwaz has been held annually for over 25 years. This is all the more remarkable because offering contemporary music to a wide audience is not something you can take for granted in a rural area. Founded in 1993 by the Schwaz-born composer and pianist Thomas Larcher, Klangspuren Schwaz has a long, successful history that began with concerts in spaces like the tennis hall, gymnasium, or cattle auction house. Meanwhile, most of the festival takes place in the Silbersaal, which was built in Schwaz 2012, and for the first time in 2019 also in the new Haus der Musik in Innsbruck.


With annually changing festival mottos and an impressive roster of Composers in Residence, including György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, and most recently Sofia Gubaidulina and Rebecca Saunders, Klangspuren Schwaz attracts not only a local Tyrolean audience but also many international visitors. In 2019 the motto was be Risse/Fissures, a theme chosen in response to the processes of social erosion, which seriously jeopardize world peace and are evident not only in Europe but also all over the world.


The Alsatian composer Mark Andre was a fitting choice as Composer in Residence for 2019, after all his unpretentiously quiet work presents a kind of counterworld compared to the loudly propagated and media-magnified rhetoric of populist politicians. Through their subtlety of thought in particular, Andre’s religiously and spiritually inspired works – whose performance demand meticulously precise playing techniques – offer us a way out of a society that is increasingly being reduced to black-and-white perspectives and oversimplification.


In 2019 the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) at Klangspuren Schwaz was quite lucky because Mark Andre had been present during the entire master course to rehearse his works with the students under the conductor Rupert Huber. Founded sixteen years ago, the IEMA master course has since then grown into one of the main projects of both Klangspuren Schwaz and Ensemble Modern. During this course the members of the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern worked closely with the students.


In 2019 a new improvisaton class was added: taught by American harpist and pianist Zeena Parkins as Improviser in Residence. The improvisational handling of contemporary musical material opens the door to new approaches to interpreting today’s compositions. Lectures on music aesthetics and musicological topics in contemporary music added a theoretical dimension to this course.


But the biggest change of all at IEMA master course at Klangspuren Schwaz in 2019 was its move to Innsbruck’s new Haus der Musik, where, among others, the Department of Music Education of the Mozarteum in Innsbruck and the State Conservatory of Tyrol are located. Thanks to the collegiality of these two institutions, which opened their rooms for rehearsals, the course now had an ideal work-space at the Haus der Musik. Yet, three of the five final concerts took place in Schwaz, where it all began.