Welcome to the concert season 2021 – 2022 of the Zurich Jazz Orchestra. It is an honor and my great pleasure to be able to greet you in my new role as Musical Director of this outstanding cultural institution. To lead a cultural institution, and specifically a professional jazz orchestra, during a pandemic is certainly a challenge. Many thanks to Bettina Uhlmann and Daniel Schenker for their calm and extremely competent leadership through the challenges the orchestra has faced during the pandemic, I look forward to working with Bettina and Dani to plot a path forward for the orchestra, emerging from the pandemic and looking to the future. The pandemic has not only created challenges, but it has also created opportunities and new possibilities. Some of these possibilities include new concert formats, the acceleration and increased integration of digitalization processes, a sharpened focus on national, regional, and local projects as well as concepts for better sustainability.
I would like to thank my predecessor Steffen Schorn, for his dedication, inspiration, and hard work in helping to build the ZJO into the impressive large jazz ensemble that it is today. Having a jazz orchestra with such deep roots in the big band tradition as well as the curiosity and openness to experiment and grow in new directions is an absolute blessing, and I will do my very best to build on this remarkable foundation.
While respecting the traditions of the ZJO is extremely important to me, one of my responsibilities is to also bring new impulses and ideas into the institution. One main area of focus in my career has been arranging for vocalists with jazz orchestra, something I will definitely continue with the ZJO. In my artistic world, vocal arrangements are on the same creative level as instrumental compositions. That means that the instrumental soloists and jazz orchestra are equal partners with the vocalist, and the harmonic language and arranging techniques that I use are not simplified for the vocalist. We have invited two extraordinary vocalists, Karin Meier and Viviane de Farias, to work with the ZJO this season.
I certainly also look forward to composing and arranging new instrumental music specifically for the ZJO, its soloists and guests. The first of these projects will feature my long-time friend and colleague Thomas Gansch in February. We will also be delving into jazz and big band history and present several concerts of important historical music that has up until now never been performed by the ZJO, and in some cases has never been performed live in Switzerland. Other topics that I feel strongly about and would like to pursue in the future include increasing gender balance and diversity in the orchestra as well as strengthening the role of the ZJO in jazz education.
In addition to the orchestra and management, another reason for the success of the ZJO is its base of supporters and fans. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your past support and thank you in advance for your future support. I very much look forward to sharing the magic of live music with you and the Zurich Jazz Orchestra.