Wind of Change will Blow in a… Furniture Shop!

It is the end of the year and everybody seem to expect the wind of change to blow into 2019 bringing some positive transformation. On this wave, I interviewed surrealism-inspired trio “Tramontana” that promises to surprise us in 2019 with series of woman-centered concerts in furniture shops.

Tramontana and its A-temporel

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Good morning, Tramontana. I would like to know a bit more about you. Could you please present yourself?

Alejandra Martin: Hi, I am Alejandra. I am viola player and I am from Spain.

Mathilde Bernard: Hello, I am Mathilde. I am from France. I play harp. I also like doing performance and new-musical theatre. Aurora Pajón: My name is Aurora, I am a flute player and I am also coming from Spain.

How did you get to know each other?

Aurora: We studied, each of us different things, in HKB (Hochschule der Künste Bern) here in Bern and we met here. First, Alejandra and me, we played together with a guitar player. Then we got to know Mathilde and we created “Tramontana”.

Why did you decide to give such a name to your ensemble?

Alejandra: Tramontana is a north wind. We just came to this idea because of Salvador Dali, the artist that we somehow find inspirational. He said that this wind makes people go crazy but it also has a lot of impact on the landscape. On the environment. On the nature. The nature also inspires the artist. So, it is a kind of wind that inspires the artist through the nature. We thought it would be a good idea to refer to this wind that makes people, probably not crazy, but active. It makes people think and be conscious. We do not only want to play to delight and to make people dream but also would like to make them active, make them think.

Aurora: It is also interesting that in the beginning, when we created Tramontana, our first inspiration was surrealism. We were thinking about possible name when my mom came with this idea… We also though about name that sounds good. It relates to three of us: we are coming from Mediterranean countries where this wind appears.

Do you mean this wind as a wind-provocateur or a wind that simply triggers change?

Mathilde: The word “provocative” is not good enough but it depends on the concert and the context. We would mainly like, as Alejandra said, to make people think. When they come back home from the concert they perhaps change their mind about chamber music concert.

Aurora: The beautiful part of the wind is that it is not strong. It is constant and smooth but at the end of the day you think about it. So, it is not provocative but it makes change.

You mentioned that you were inspired by the tradition in surrealism. Is there anything particularly surreal in what you do now in Tramontana?

Alejandra: Through surrealism we open other doors. It was in this process that we created “A-temporel”. This project was born almost one year ago. Now we are planning to play in January again but it is going to be a bit different, since we have been a while playing together already. Surrealism is present, for example, in how we treat time. Time can stretch and compress. You have been sitting here for one hour but sometimes you have a feeling that time flows much faster. It can also stop. We do it through some kind of “collage”, though it might not be the most precise word to define it. It is about how we put things together. We have focused more on the dramaturgic point of view on the concert. It is not going to be a typical kind of concert where one thing goes after another. We took our time to think about the concept of time itself and its role in the concert.

There are also elements that relate to the woman: women-composers and female themes. We found a lot of surrealist women that were really amazing artists but they were always in the shade of some men. That made us think a lot.

Aurora: We thought: what can be surrealist in music? We realized, it was the time. Each individual’s perception of it. We also started to find a lot of women that were involved in surrealist movement in 20s but they somehow disappeared. They are no more there in the history or in the books. That became a surrealist idea for us: how is it to believe that they disappeared? The woman became an important topic for us. Not only surrealism itself as a movement of the 20s but also the woman: where is She? We are ourselves women and we have to do something about it. We got involved and that was the beginning.

Could you give some concrete examples of women that disappeared in the shade of men?

Aurora: Yes! We all have Spanish background. Even though Mathilde is from France, she also studied in Spain. We were reading some books and the one that impressed us a lot was for example “Las Sinsombrero” (The women without hat). There is a mentioning of the painter Maruja Mallo, the acquaintance of Dali, who afterwards disappeared. In Switzerland there is a Meret Oppenheim, though she is more known.

Alejandra: Gala Dali was also herself an artist. There is a lot we do not know about her. She was not only a wife but also an art-influencer. There are women-writers as well.

Mathilde: It is the same in all the disciplines. There are not only men but also women. We forget them. Why? Because the men are put in front and women are put aside. We often talk about the woman-muse but there are not only muses. There are women who were also composing but they are forgotten.

Are you playing creations of women-composers during “A-temporel” sessions?

Aurora: Yes, for example, we chose Sofia Gubaidulina. We are also playing a piece of another composer who lives in Basel: Charlotte Torres. She composed a feminist piece for us. Our idea is to play more and more our own creations or the music of women-composers. That is the direction we would like to explore a bit more.

A-temporel is a project that promises to take place in a totally different setting, distinct from a classic concert-setting. Could you please tell more about it?

Mathilde: In January we will have four show-concerts named “A-temporel” in four different cities. We chose those cities because most of them are related to Röstigraben. They are bilingual and we like idea of having different languages. There will be one concert in Fribourg, one in Biel, one in Bern and one in Murten. We wanted to play in some different places, not only in auditorium or a church. Those are normal settings for a classical concert. This time we will play in a furniture shops (but not in Ikea!). We will play in some intimate places where we could create an ambience of our home, our house, our place using the furniture for our scenography.

Do you mean you are not only going to play instruments? Is there going to be some action?

Mathilde: Actually, this show has some elements of theatre in it. We are not really acting but it is a bit of dramaturgy attached to the piece. We will use elements of texts and movement. All of it put together.

Why did you chose the name “A-temporel” for your project?

Aurora: Exactly thinking about how the music can be surrealist, we first asked the composers to compose for us. Our project based on and inspired by surrealism with its atemporality. There is a word-play.

Alejandra: There is a specific term in the musical score. There where it is written “a-tempo” it signifies the time where everybody plays together (after deliberate change and deviation of tempo). There is also a question: are we always together? There is a piece of Ramon Bischoff, a Swiss composer. He composed a piece for us where sometimes we are not even in the same tonal system and we are not always in the same tempo. We got some freedom then we meet together in certain point but afterwards move again in different directions to once again go together. A tempo is also about being or not being together. A-temporel is about discovering new directions of chamber music.

Will a profane listener, not a professional musician, be able to sense those innovations that you implement in your project?

Aurora: We have played in different places, for example in the old jail in Lugo, Spain. We got very good feedback because it touched the social aspect. We make a statement, as Mathilde said. For example Charlotte’s piece also has audios: Simonne de Beauvoir or Charles de Gaulle. It touches things that people understand. Our show nothing super-sophisticated for musicians only. A-temporel tries to engage everybody. Everybody will find something interesting, we hope.

When and where the first A-temporel session will take place?

Mathilde: The first one will be in Fribourg on the 19th of January.

Alejandra: You will find the dates on our website www.tramontanamusik.ch . If you cannot make it within those dates, there will be another concert in Lyss on the 28th of February. We are going to perform “La Donna Ideale” – it is all about women. You are welcome to keep connected to us!

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Anna speaks French, German, English and Russian. She obtained a Master Degree at the University of Bern (Cultural Studies) and a Bachelor at the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Philology). Anna has big interest in such themes as: identity, cultural hybridity, music, and raising children in multicultural context. She is convinced that our children can teach us a lot. They are not born with stereotypes but they risk to acquire them later under external circumstances. Our task as parents is to help them grow as conscious and culture-aware humans.

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