News from… Ensemble Vertebrae
Founded in 2009 by the flautist Olivia Abreu and the pianist Anna Paolina Hasslacher, Ensemble Vertebræ presents chamber works for various formations. Its creative process is based on searching, premiering and furthering contemporary innovative repertoire in musical performances, didactic concerts for children and young people, lectures and pedagogical workshops, as well as working closely with composers for novel pieces. Ensemble Vertebræ has worked with composers such as: Ivan Fedele, Beat Furrer, Bruno Ducol and Iradj Sahbai.
Can you introduce yourselves and Ensemble Vertebræ?
We (Anna Paolina Hasslacher, pianist, and Olivia Abreu, flutist) are the founding members of Ensemble Vertebræ. We are both Mexican musicians and we are the artistic directors of the ensemble. Based on our duo, the ensemble presents chamber music pieces for different formations. The ensemble’s creative process is based on searching, premiering and furthering contemporary innovative repertoire.
How did you meet each other and why did you decide to create a musical ensemble?
We met at Strasbourg Conservatoire in 2009, both studying to obtain the Specialisation Diploma in Contemporary Music. Immediately after playing our first piece together, we knew that our paths hadn’t crossed by chance, so we started working on a large amount of repertoire for flute and piano, with the main goal of playing together after our studies. It’s hard to say when or how we decided to form a variable geometry ensemble, we were just sure that we wanted to play contemporary music together! Nevertheless, for us it was clear that the most enriching way (if not the only way) of creating present day music is working directly with the composers, and, whenever possible, to participate in the creative process itself. This led to the desire and need to create pieces for various formations. Thus, to create an ensemble, based on our duo, was a very natural process.
Why contemporary music?
The most spontaneous and direct answer is: because it’s the music we most like playing and we are passionate about it. It’s as simple as that. But to develop a bit more: this musical gender fills us entirely, from the comprehension of the different notations –which in contemporary music is quite a challenge and requires an adaptation to the language each composer uses, not always “universal”– to the musical comprehension, the interpretation, to working with the composer, the creative process, and the final outcome.
We could also answer with another question: why not? If this is the music of our time. We sincerely believe that every musician should play the music he/she is passionate about, of course in the best possible way, to be able to transmit and share it with the public.
How important is your pedagogical work toward youth and children for you? What do you do for them?
One of the most important goals of our ensemble is the pedagogical work. Most of our projects have educational purposes. We are convinced that, even if art is made to communicate of its own accord, for this to happen, first the work itself has to arouse interest, regardless of age, cultural or social backgrounds. The only thing the artist has to do is to be humble and have the desire to transmit.
Our means of accomplishing this goal are: educational programmes for general public or dedicated to children, conferences for performers and composers, and specific projects such as creating a work in collaboration with children and teenagers (music students), or developing introductory workshops to improvised music for children with different backgrounds.
Can you tell us more about the album you present on Elektramusic label?
First of all, we are very happy to collaborate with Elektramusic label for this digital album. We hope we can reach the largest number of auditors and share our work carried out over the past 10 years.
This album is a musical anthology of live recordings, since the creation of Ensemble Vertebræ in 2009, until 2019. It contains four pieces for flute and piano, and three pieces for other formations, including bass clarinet, violin, cello and percussions. The choice of pieces presented in this album, by composers José Luis Hurtado, Bruno Ducol, Beat Furrer, Juan Pablo Muñoz, Juan Arroyo, Víctor Ibarra and Maurilio Cacciatore, was inspired not only by their quality and aesthetic diversity, but also because for each of these pieces we worked directly with the composers to perform either the world premiere or the premiere in festivals like the International Cervantino Festival in Mexico or the IGNM in Switzerland.
We would also like to mention that the works by Peruvian composer Juan Arroyo and Mexican composers José Luis Hurtado and Víctor Ibarra were written especially for Ensemble Vertebræ.