Baldur Brönnimann / Basel Sinfonietta
Hèctor Parra / Kevin Juillerat / Roberto Gerhard

Stadtcasino, Basel, 2022-01-16

5-star rating

2022-01-22 — Original posting

Ein durchwegs überzeugendes Jubiläumskonzert der Basel Sinfonietta — Zusammenfassung

Wirkung der Gravitation in der Kosmologie (in Galaxien, im Gravitationskollaps bei schwarzen Löchern), und deren Analogien im menschlichen Dasein.

Im Zentrum des Konzerts stand eine Komposition des Schweizer Komponisten Kevin Juillerat (*1987): “Waves” ist ein Auftragswerk der Basel Sinfonietta und erklang als Welt-Uraufführung in Anwesenheit des Komponisten.

Den Abschluss machte die dreisätzige Sinfonie Nr.1 von Roberto Gerhard (1896 – 1970): ein leider beinahe vergessenes Werk. “Migration” spielt auf diesen Komponisten an: in Katalonien geboren, aber Kind Schweizerisch-Elsässischer Eltern. Er verbrachte nach erzwungener Auswanderung den Großteil seines Lebens in England.

Table of Contents


Venue, Date & TimeStadtcasino, Basel, 2022-01-16 19:00h
Series / TitleBasel Sinfonietta 40+1 — “Schwerkraft Migration
OrganizerBasel Sinfonietta
Reviews from related eventsPrevious concerts with this orchestra
Previous concerts with Baldur Brönnimann

The pandemic made it impossible for the Basel Sinfonietta to celebrate its 40th anniversary last year in an appropriate context. So, the orchestra resorted to shifting the anniversary, now celebrating “Basel Sinfonietta 40+1“, in a weekend with various activities. The celebration started off on Saturday morning, with a moderated, public rehearsal, followed by a podium discussion. The main event was of course the concert on Sunday in the Stadtcasino Basel. This was at the same time the third of this season’s subscription concerts. Well-attended, not surprisingly.

The Artists

Neither the orchestra, the Basel Sinfonietta (see also Wikipedia), nor its Principal Conductor, Baldur Brönnimann (*1968, see also Wikipedia) should need an introduction. See the links above for earlier reviews. However, this is a special occasion, so let me still add some extra text here:

The Basel Sinfonietta — 40+1 Years

Reviewing the orchestra’s 41 years of activities in detail is beyond the scope of this article (with the sketchy exceptions below). Instead, I’m referring to the orchestra’s Website. On this occasion, this just underwent a major update. I’d also like to mention the excellent, 176-page booklet “40+1 Jahre Basel Sinfonietta” that the orchestra brought out on this occasion. It was put together by Werner Hoppe, responsible for the orchestra’s PR & Marketing. This document gives a detailed history of the orchestra, from the beginning up to today. Let me just briefly summarize that history:

Selected Milestones from the Orchestra’s History

  • Late in 1979, seven music students came up with the idea of forming a new orchestra that was different from the existing ones. They wanted it to be democratic and self-managed by its members. The realization of this idea lasted around a year. First rehearsal: December 1980. The first concert: April 1981 in Ligerz (far away from Basel). First concert in Basel: October 1981.
  • Within the first two years, the “basel sinfonietta” quickly earned a very good reputation among Basel’s orchestras.
  • In the first years, the concert repertoire ranged from Vienna classics up to 20th century compositions. The one differentiator was that the orchestra strived towards gender equality. Not just within the ensemble, but also with respect to the composers.
  • Gradually, the orchestra moved into experimental territory, i.e., non-standard repertoire (e.g., Jazz, big band, etc.), and new concert forms / formats.
  • For most of its history, the orchestra has worked with a large number of conductors. At the same time, it continued to cover both “conventional” as well as contemporary and experimental repertoire.
  • This changed in 2016, when (for the first time in its existence) the orchestra appointed Baldur Brönnimann as Principal Conductor. Up till a few years ago, the orchestra still occasionally performed traditional repertoire (e.g., when supporting oratorio / choral concerts). However, Baldur Brönnimann’s vision clearly was that of an orchestra specializing in contemporary / newest repertoire.

Principal Conductor: Baldur Brönnimann

Baldur Brönnimann grew up near Basel, but spent most of his “pre-Sinfonietta career” in Columbia, the U.K., and Portugal. To this day, he maintains his international connections. A good share of these conducting activities features “traditional” (classic & onwards) repertoire. In Basel, however, the orchestra was looking at out-of-the-ordinary concert locations / venues. And it was seeking a unique profile among the competing ensembles in the Basel area (and beyond). Around that time, orchestra and conductor coined the term “orchestra for contemporary music”.

Since accepting the position of Principal Conductor, in his programs with the Basel Sinfonietta, Baldur Brönnimann has engaged exclusively in contemporary and newest / experimental music. This was highly successful, in that the orchestra has firmly established an excellent reputation in this area.


The motto of the concert, i.e., the title of the program was “Schwerkraft Migration“. The evening featured three compositions:

One might read the title of the program as “gravity, migration” or “gravity and migration“. Other possibilities are “migration as gravity“, “gravity in the form of migration“, or maybe “migration in the form / as expression of gravity“? However, that’s probably an over-interpretation. “Gravity” is a key theme in the first composition, and also Kevin Juillerat mentioned gravity-related aspects. “Migration”, on the other hand, primarily refers to Roberto Gerhard’s vita, see below.

Setting, etc.

Only the stall (parquet) seating in the Stadtcasino Basel was used in this concert. Yet, for a concert with contemporary music in a time with pandemic restrictions (2G & mandatory masks), the orchestra did mobilize a very respectable audience. My seat was in row 18 (#8) of the central block—a position with excellent, balanced acoustics. The only drawback with this venue is that the podium is mostly flat. It is elevated enough to offer only limited visibility to the rear part of the orchestra.

Pre-Concert Introduction

As usual with the Basel Sinfonietta, there was a 20-minute introduction, 45 minutes prior to the concert. This time, it was in the form of a podium discussion, led by Elisabeth Baureithel, presenter at Radio SRF 2 Kultur. The participants in the discussion were Baldur Brönnimann and one of the composers of the evening, Kevin Juillerat (see below for more information).

Helpful / Instructive, or Superfluous / Redundant?

Some might dismiss these introductions as “superfluous”, maybe containing very little (if anything) that isn’t also found on the evening’s program notes (which were available for free). While if to a certain degree this may be true, I still think this opinion should not prevail. For one, the introduction offered a live encounter with (one of) the composers, giving impressions on the personality, the character. Moreover, both with the conductor, as well as for the composer and his (or her) composition, one can get a feel for what (in their view) is important and central to the works and their performance—in general, and in the upcoming concert in particular.

I estimate that in concerts with the Basel Sinfonietta, some 20 – 30% of the audience typically arrive early enough to attend these introductions. And in that respect, this evening was no exception.

Concert & Review

Not just the above introduction is customary in concerts with the Basel Sinfonietta, but also a short greeting. This time, it was in the form of an interview between Elisabeth Baureithel and the orchestra’s managing director, Daniela Martin.

Hèctor Parra (*1976); Creative Commons CC BY 2.0
Hèctor Parra (*1976)
(Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

Parra: “InFALL” for Large Orchestra (2011/2012)

The Composer

Hèctor Parra (*1976, see also Wikipedia) is a Catalan composer. He studied both at the Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona, as well as at the University of Alcalá de Henares. Further studies led him to the Geneva University of Music (HÉMU), to the IRCAM, as well as other, prominent institutions in France and in Japan. His principal studies were in composition and in computer music, but he also studied painting and drawing in Barcelona.

The composer’s Wikipedia entry mentions fine arts, natural sciences, as well as literature as key influences in Parra’s musical oeuvre. The large catalog of Parra’s works includes stage and orchestral works, compositions for instrumental ensembles, chamber music, solo and instrumental music, but also semi-improvised and electroacoustic works. Since 2002, Parra has been living in Paris. On his Website, he describes his current position as “pensionnaire at the French Academy in Rome / Villa Medici 2021-22“.

The Work

Gravity is the key element / theme in Hèctor Parra’s composition InFALL for Large Orchestra (2011/2012, Swiss First Performance). I’m trying to condense from the program notes on Parra’s Website, written by Eva Vila and Hèctor Parra, 2012:

InFALL offers us a cosmological vision of human existence. In communion with Mahler’s spirit, it brings together knowledge and emotional richness while crystallizing a certain awareness of the tragic destiny that leads us towards death”. InFALL means the falling movement towards the center of a massive astronomical body due to gravitational attraction. Parra refers to the physics of cosmological black holes. And:

InFALL begins with a two-minute section evoking the interstellar vacuum. (…) The second part develops a harmonic process that will lead us to the end of the work, in which the human being becomes aware of his tragic destiny. (…) The entire final part is characterized by an almost constant acceleration. This is how Parra also understands human life as a great process of complexification and acceleration. A process that leads to a Presto feroce in which all the motives of the piece are hidden. As a stretto, all the material comes together to end up imploding in a tragic and forceful, dry ending, in which lyricism has no more place.”

The Performance

The composer’s cosmological vision was instantaneous and obvious to me. High-pitch noises giving an impression of an infinite void. Highly descriptive, pictorial (yet abstract) music. A piece that works with extremes: both high “ultrasound” and very low pitches. Music without melodies, without persistent rhythm, yet telling a compelling story. It felt like a view through a telescope wandering across the sky. Stars popping up as little splashes / eruptions, maybe comets leaving a fine trail. I also pictured rotating galaxies with arms passing by. Enthralling music, full of tension that is momentarily released in “local events”.

Eruptions, Cataclysms

Fascinating sequences using a rich percussion set, building up to a giant eruption. Cataclysmic events, stars circling around and falling into the orcus of a black hole? In-between the cataclysms, the richness in pattern and colors (to me) evokes the miracles, the wondrous variety in the subtle tinges and diffuse shapes of nebulae that a supernova leaves behind. A melodious, virtuosic flute solo may stand for the beauty of such astronomical objects.

The title of the piece is InFALL, and so the peaceful beauty gradually gives way to the final catastrophe. The music is now more rhythmic, heavy percussion, supported by the wind section, fills the hall. Momentarily ear-piercing, an event “bigger than the human mind” leads into the cataclysm of the final splash. The end is followed by moments of ghastly, dead silence.

True, a different title might have evoked an entirely different set of pictures. However, to me, this remains a highly imaginative piece that triggers the listener’s fantasy one way or another. I can’t exclude that people who are not willing (or able) to open their mind to the world of imagination remain locked out from the wonders of this music. To me, though, that’s hardly imaginable!

Rating: ★★★★★

Kevin Juillerat (*1987); © Copyright 2014 Kevin Juillerat. All rights reserved. Pictures: Didier Jordan
Kevin Juillerat (*1987)
(© Kevin Juillerat / Didier Jordan)

Juillerat: “Waves” for Orchestra (2021)

The Composer

The Swiss composer Kevin Juillerat (*1987) studied saxophone at the Haute École de Musique (HÉMU) Lausanne and the Hochschule für Musik Basel. At the same time, he also studied composition at the Haute École de Musique (HÉMU) de Genève and in Basel. He complemented this with a course at the IRCAM in Paris. For full detail see the composer’s Web biography.

Kevin Juillerat has composed for several international ensembles and artists. His works have won him various prizes. They are performed not just in Europe, but also in Australia, Russia, as well as in South America.

As a saxophonist, Juillerat participates in projects in the areas of classical, contemporary and experimental music. He cooperates with prominent international orchestras, conductors, and composers. Kevin Juillerat also explores Rock and improvisation. He is a member of several ensembles. At the same time, he is also teaching music theory, and holding saxophone, composition, improvisation and contemporary music interpretation classes. Juillerat’s compositorial oeuvre so far covered solo works, chamber and ensemble music, as well as vocal works and stage music.

The Work

“Waves” for Orchestra (2021) is a commission by the Basel Sinfonietta, the performance was a world premiere. This is Juillerat’s first composition for big symphonic orchestra. It is a reflection on all aspects of “waves”, namely

  • waves at sea
  • tidal weaves
  • wind waves (crests and troughs)
  • sine waves (relating to electronic music)
  • sound waves
  • electromagnetic, gravitational and shock waves
  • migratory waves
  • pulse waves (heart beat)
  • waves of panic
  • and pandemic waves, of course.

Harmonically, the material originates from a melodic dedication to the Basel Sinfonietta. Juillerat assigned a note to every character in “Basel Sinfonietta” (abbreviated to “Basel Xi”). This is more of a theoretical construct—the resulting “melody” is not intelligible by the unprepared listener. It is stretched, compressed, and varied throughout the single, 7-minute movement.

The composer mentions “a broad scope of colors, nuances, and expressions. He sees the composition as a complex, colorful organism with a broad breath, as well as gasping. Or, maybe, the various states of a sea, that one can either admire or traverse.”

The Performance

The beginning is a flat, bleak sequence of alternating, soft and dissonant intervals in the woodwinds. These gradually build up to more complex chords, widening the scope both in pitch, as well as in colors, by including the brass section. The music retracts again, almost vanishes. This focuses the listener’s attention to the emerging, melancholic, falling melody in the flute. The composer’s “dedication” to the Basel Sinfonietta? Juillerat builds a veritable canon from these falling lines, growing in scope and volume, moving into the big brass instruments and basses. Multiple voices spiral down into an abyss, leaving only a deep, resonant bass tone.

New layers appear on top of that tone. They stack up on top of each other, building complex, dissonant chords, ending in a splash. A giant wave, an oppressing flood? However, all of a sudden, we find ourselves in a serene, peaceful and calm atmosphere, where harp and piano accompany a melancholic flute melody. The atmosphere is meditative, possibly inspired by Indian Raga.

Waves, Thunder — And an Open End

Occasional accents in the wind instruments (gusts of wind) bring new life into the scenery. Called by the wind gusts, a thunderstorm approaches. Forceful waves in bass and percussion, accompanied by rolling thunder. That is just a momentary disruption. It soon gives way to “finest ultrasound”, commented / accompanied by gentle, subtle harp and piano tremolo sounds. Broad, smooth waves of sine tones form a colorful conversation across the orchestra. This often reads like a melody. Unexpectedly (not abruptly, though), this harmoniously vanishes into a void.

To me, the ending came as a surprise. Should one read this as a big (and friendly) question mark? Or is this rather the promise of things to come in a bright(er) future?

Another piece of fascinating, highly imaginative music, for sure—evoking curiosity for more from this composer!

Rating: ★★★★★

Roberto Gerhard (1896 - 1970); source:
Roberto Gerhard (1896 – 1970)

Gerhard: Symphony No.1 for Orchestra (1952/53)

The Composer

The Catalan composer Roberto Gerhard (1896 – 1970) was born in Valls, near Tarragona, Spain, the son of a German-Swiss father and an Alsatian mother. His parents founded a wine trade company in Valls. Their son was sent to Switzerland, to become a merchant. However, he felt pulled into music and went to Munich, to study music. Due to WWI, he was forced to return to Barcelona, where he studied piano with Enrique Granados (1867 – 1916) and composition with Felip Pedrell (1841 – 1922). After Pedrell’s death, Gerhard was unsuccessful in becoming a pupil of Manuel da Falla (1876 – 1946). He ended up spending several years in Vienna and Berlin, as master pupil and assistant with Arnold Schönberg (1874 – 1951).

1928, Roberto Gerhard returned to Barcelona, focusing on supporting new music through concerts and journalism. As a staunch republican, Gerhard was forced to flee the country in 1939. The composer settled in Cambridge, U.K., where henceforth he dedicated his work efforts to the BBC, and to theater. At the same time, his music was essentially ostracized in Spain until the death of Francisco Franco (1892 – 1975).

Style, Oeuvre (excerpts from Wikipedia)

In the first 20 years (Spain and England) Gerhard cultivated, and enormously enriched, a modern tonal idiom with a pronounced Spanish-folkloric orientation. This descended from Felip Pedrell and Manuel da Falla. At the same time, one can feel influences from contemporary masters such as Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945) and Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971).

Gerhard’s compositions of the 1940s were explicitly related to aspects of Spanish and Catalan culture. This began in 1940 with a Symphony in memory of Pedrell and the first version of the ballet Don Quixote. During the 1950s, the legacy of Schönbergian serialism led to an increasingly radical approach to composition. By the 1960s, this firmly placed Gerhard in the ranks of the avant-garde. The oeuvre culminated in the opera The Duenna (1945 – 1947, English, but set in Spain) and the ballet Don Quixote. The Duenna was a success on the radio (BBC), as well as at Covent Garden, but unsuccessful in Spain. I has been revived in the mid-1990.

Roberto Gerhard wrote 6 symphonies, various stage works, concertos, orchestral and vocal works, as well as chamber and electronic music. There are also works for light orchestra, and the music to two films.

Symphony No.1

As stated above, with Baldur Brönnimann as chief conductor, the Basel Sinfonietta clearly started specializing on contemporary and experimental music. Wasn’t it contradictory to celebrate the orchestra’s anniversary with a work from 60 years ago? Roberto Gerhard’s Symphony No.1 for Orchestra is a work from 1952/53 (Gerhard, 1990). Well, for one, this was the Swiss First Performance of a work that one can still call contemporary. Also, as we will see, that symphony does fit very well into the context of the orchestra’s current repertoire! The work has three movements, with the following annotations:

  1. Allegro animato
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro spiritoso

The composition premiered 1955 with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden (now SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg) under the baton of Hans Rosbaud (1895 – 1962). The program booklet states that this symphony was pivotal in Gerhard’s oeuvre: it made the composer known to wider audiences. Also, it helped Gerhard digest the initial failures of his opera The Duenna. That failure may have led the composer’s heart condition in 1952. And this again found its way into the third movement of the symphony.

The Performance

Compared to the two contemporary compositions, Roberto Gerhard’s musical language shows more signs of “structural heritage”. There is of course the overall, three-movement structure of the symphony with “conventional” annotations. Another differentiator is the much stronger presence of rhythmic elements. Not throughout, though. Occasionally these evolve into motoric pattern that one does not find in the preceding works in this concert. And there is the dodecaphonic principle that is most obvious at the very beginning of the first movement.

The program notes refer to quotes from Gerhard’s own compositions and hidden references to works by other composers, such as Beethoven. I did not try rediscovering and locating such references. Rather I was letting the music inspire my senses, letting my ear find it’s own analogies and associations. My comments below are derived from the spontaneous notes that I wrote down during the performance.

I. Allegro animato

The opening “statement” (essentially two broken chords) says it clearly: dodecaphony. Actually, contrary to popular belief, this did not sound overly dissonant at all (let alone cacophonic). I took it mainly just as a “statement”. I’m sure that dodecaphonic principles govern the entire movement—but this is far less evident to the unprepared listener. Rather, Gerhard extracts elements (motifs) from the opening, builds atonal polyphony from chained motifs. A complex fugato of sorts (baroque heritage?) forming dynamic waves.

Motoric Elements

Motoric rhythmic pattern emerge both in the wind sections, as well as in the strings. This reminded me of music by Arthur Honegger (1892 – 1955), as well as by Arnold Schönberg, possibly Igor Stravinsky. Tightly polyphonic, complex (and at the same time strongly rhythmic) passages reminded of industrial sceneries. Or busy traffic with train and car horns. Then, “industrial noise and traffic” move into the distant background. The music suddenly appears to offer an outlook into nature, with birds singing, chirping bugs.

It’s music with a strong narration, highly multi-faceted, often complex, but never really chaotic. Rhythmic, often menacing and motoric segments alternate with serene moments. To me, the piece is dodecaphonic, but not really / entirely atonal. Melodies are typically limited to short motifs, often repeated / imitated in various voices. The movement builds up to a loud, abrupt ending. Strong music, a strong “statement” already in the first movement—and music that deserves more popularity.

II. Adagio

A single, low tone on the piano evokes very soft waves of a wide-spanning, dissonant chord in the strings. The following, melodic chord sequences in the woodwinds appeared as a strong reminder of Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Sz.116 / BB 123, namely the duets in the second movement, “Presentando le coppie”. The music felt serene, lucid, with its background of high, resting string chords. Very pictorial, transparent, shining silently, with a background of finest / softest, whispering voices. Only a couple of brief eruptions caused momentary disruptions.

Pizzicato dialogs, interspersed with piano droplets—a dodecaphonic sequence, presumably. That is picked up in a pizzicato crescendo, leading into another eruption. More whispering, and gradually, melodies elements “sneak in”, culminating in a clarinet melody—melancholic, elegiac, sad. It felt like a “restless trail of thoughts”. The music returned to the resting chords of the beginning, accompanying diverging “droplets” from harp and piano. Summary: serial, but harmonious and calm, reflective and inspiring. Another strong movement!

III. Allegro spiritoso

The beginning is an erratic sequence of crescendo eruptions—presumably reflections of the composer’s heart stroke. Despite the erratic nature of these blasts, the movement remains rhythmic. There are series of repeated motifs, giving an occasional taste of minimal music. It also again reminded of the “industrial aspects” in the first movement. Serene moments in a long, “pulled” melody, but also more eruptions. A narrowing crescendo leads to anxiety, stress, Angst—certainly the stroke again. This contrasts with moments of angelic (dodecaphonic!) singing, first in the strings, then in the flute, clarinet. Serene, calm, flawless. Transfiguration in soft woodwinds and brass, on the background of a mildly dissonant, homophonic chord sequence in the strings.

From that serenity, Gerhard builds up tension again. This starts with a rapidly approaching, wild string tremolo, iridescent, like a swarm of insects. The return of a busy life. Crescendo eruptions, wildly motoric, virtuosic especially for the strings. A last, dissonant build-up leads into the gradual and final “tinnitus crescendo” that ends vanishing into nothingness.

Baldur Brönnimann, Basel Sinfonietta @ Stadtcasino Basel, 2022-01-16 (© Zlatko Mićić)
Baldur Brönnimann, Basel Sinfonietta @ Stadtcasino Basel, 2022-01-16 (© Zlatko Mićić)

In conclusion, I can say that there are barely any weaknesses in Gerhard’s music. Certainly, the performance by Baldur Brönnimann and the Basel Sinfonietta felt compelling throughout, maintained tension and flow. Fascinating!

Orchestra / Conductor

In terms of performance I did not really talk about the orchestra. In a way, that’s a deliberate omission. I know about the discipline, the enthusiasm and constant attention in this ensemble, and their excellent level and professionality. I also knew how well Baldur Brönnimann prepared himself and the orchestra. And how familiar he is with the most complex contemporary scores, how firm in conducting and leading the orchestra. Therefore, my focus was almost completely on the music.

With Baldur Brönnimann at the helm, the orchestra had little need to rely upon the concertmaster (Simone Zgraggen) for coordination and orientation, despite the big formation in this concert. I noted the excellent performance of the string section, particularly in the first movement.

Rating: ★★★★★

“Off-Topic” for the Basel Sinfonietta?

In the introductory discussion, Elisabeth Baureithel raised an interesting question (some might call it the “elephant in the room”!) about Roberto Gerhard’s Symphony No.1. This dates from 1952/53, 70 years ago. Is this work really in line with the conductor’s and the Sinfonietta’s current philosophy of focusing on newest, if not experimental compositions?

Baldur Brönnimann confirmed the obvious concentration on truly contemporary repertoire. However, he also explained that within the richness of 20th century (“classical” / “modern”) music repertoire, he sees it as one valuable task for the Basel Sinfonietta, to uncover remarkable compositions that never reached the attention they deserve. In the case of Roberto Gerhard, this “public dismissal” may in part be political (in Spain). More importantly, the Symphony No.1 follows Schönberg’s serialism, which was superseded and often dismissed already in the first half of the 20th century.

However, that doesn’t make it “bad music”. As this concert convincingly demonstrated, the Symphony No.1 is indeed a masterwork that deserves a presence in today’s concert repertoire. Not only with this orchestra!

Baldur Brönnimann, Basel Sinfonietta @ Stadtcasino Basel, 2022-01-16 (© Zlatko Mićić)
Baldur Brönnimann, Basel Sinfonietta @ Stadtcasino Basel, 2022-01-16 (© Zlatko Mićić)

Conclusions and Outlook

The anniversary concert confirmed the orchestra and its conductor’s qualities in the performance of contemporary music, its potential and abilities. Moreover, it demonstrated Baldur Brönnimann’s ability to find / locate and select works from today’s most interesting composers. And/or to motivate them to write exciting new compositions.

The outstanding concert also demonstrated how the Basel Sinfonietta and Baldur Brönnimann have mutually benefited from the past 6 years of their cooperation. Brönnimann’s contract with the Sinfonietta had a fixed duration and was prolonged once, up to the season 2022/2023. In a democratic election, the orchestra has recently appointed of the Swiss conductor Titus Engel (*1975, see also Wikipedia) as their next Principal Conductor, starting in the season 2023/24. This is not the time / the occasion to write about Titus Engel. However, for the curious: I have witnessed him as conductor in a 2016 opera production in Basel. There, he conducted a performance of “Donnerstag” from the cycle Licht” (“Light”) by Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 – 2007).

It will be sad to see Baldur Brönnimann leave in about 18 months from now. One can only hope that he will be returning as guest conductor from time to time!


The author would like to express his gratitude to the people from the Basel Sinfonietta for the press ticket to this concert. Also, thanks to Werner Hoppe, for a copy of the orchestra’s anniversary publication, 40+1 Jahre Basel Sinfonietta“, and for forwarding a set of photos from the event for this article. With the exceptions of three composer photos, all pictures are by Zlatko Mićić (© Basel Sinfonietta / Zlatko Mićić). A few of the pictures showing Baldur Brönnimann are from the day prior to this concert. This was a public rehearsal in the Paul Sacher Saal / Don Bosco, Basel.


Gerhard, R. (1990). Symphony No. 1 (Hawkes Pocket Score). London, U.K.: Boosey & Hawkes. Vol. No.: HPS 1188; Catalog No. M060090240; ISMN 9790060090240.

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