Hailing from Germany’s capital of musicals, Hamburg-based ensemble Elbipolis has pushed boundaries and established a name for itself for its harmonious blend of Barock Lounge Baroque and electro. Here, the founder Jurgen Gross discusses the ensemble’s interpretation of classical music and upcoming show at the 2016 Singapore International Festival of Music (SIFOM).
When and how did Elbipolis first come together to make music?
I founded Elbipolis in 1996, but the current constellation of musicians came into being a few years later in 2004. From the very beginning, Elbipolis was concerned with presenting Hamburg’s rich musical repertoire of the baroque era to the public. In addition to that, the group shared an experimental nature that constantly looked for new ways of performing and for direct communication with the audience.
How is the classical music scene in Hamburg? Do you feel well accepted and embraced there as musicians?
Aside from its position as a musical city, Hamburg is an important centre for the international classical music scene, and I expect that with the opening of the Elbphilharmonie in 2017, the city’s status will be raised even further.
Being an independent ensemble, Elbipolis has made a name for itself in Hamburg as a special ensemble for old music. Notable performances have been in conjunction with the north German radio series “Das Alte Werk” as well as a continuous presence at the Schleswig-Holstein music festival. Now Elbipolis has been able to bring its own concert form “Barock Lounge” to life, in co-operation with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk.
What inspires your music?
Elbipolis’ music is first and foremost the result of the spirit of the ensemble as well as the atmosphere created by all of our individual members. We believe that inspiration comes when all our musicians are at ease with each other and can communicate on a musical level.
You collaborated with DJ Brezel Goring for “Elbipolis /Barock Lounge – Outer Space”. What was it like working with him?
Brezel Göring lives in Berlin and is part of the legendary duo Stereo Total. Working with an electronic musician was completely new territory for us, and vice versa – this is also his first time working with a baroque orchestra. He expertly answered the question on how to edit our music, because “rhythms” and “loops” cannot be used for music with such complicated harmonies and varying speeds.
Why is it important for you to reinvent and reinterpret classical music?
This isn’t an easy question for me to answer, because classical music has always been a large part of my musical life and has long been central to my understanding of the arts and culture. Even today, there is always new, completely unknown music to be discovered, especially from the era of the 17th and 18th centuries. This music is unbelievably beautiful and we want to share it with the public.
You’ll be performing at the Singapore International Festival of Music in October. How do you feel about your upcoming gig?
We’re very pleased to have been invited to the international festival and are looking forward to the trip. Of course, we’re excited to meet the people and get a taste of their understanding of their own musical culture. Although we will only be there for a short space of time, we hope to be able to partake in as much cultural exchange as possible.
Have you been to Singapore before? What are your expectations of the city?
No, I have never been to Singapore. I’m really looking forward to getting a feel for the place. I have heard that the city is very well cared for and that the people are accommodating and friendly. It will definitely be a great experience!