WOLFGANG SIEBER, ORGEL
Johann Baptist Hilber is one of the most important representatives of Swiss Late-Romanticism in the 20th Century. To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his death, Stephen Smith directs the Ensemble Corund in moving performances of sacred music by the much loved composer.
Recording: 06/2013 – Hofkirche Luzern
Producer: Andreas Meixner
Recording Producer: Anne Fokdal Madsen
Layout: Felix Dreher
®+© 2013 Spektral 15543
Ord. No.: SRL4 – 13121
GTIN (EAN): 4260130381219
All rights reserved.
Ensemble Corund was founded in 1993 by conductor Stephen Smith in order to enhance the professional choral scene in Switzerland and offer young music graduates a platform to further their development. Since then, the vocal group has established a reputation for high quality performances and has given well over 200 concerts to date. Their principle focus is sacred music from the Renaissance and the Baroque in addition to music from the 20th and 21st centuries. In the last few years, they have been performing choral works from the Classical and Romantic periods as well, including Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Petit messe solennelle, Haydn’s Creation, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The core of Ensemble Corund is made up of sixteen singers. The performing forces vary according to project, and range from four to forty voices. Ensemble Corund is a vocal group, chamber choir and concert choir all rolled into one. In each case, the main goal is to be historically informed and true to the text, in addition to giving performances that are full of expression and vitality. Depending on the program, Ensemble Corund works with its own Corund Baroque Orchestra or other orchestras such as la banda ANTIX, the Zuger Sinfonietta, Musickkollegium Winterthur or the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Ensemble Corund has been well received at festivals and concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. Their performances have been praised by the press and the public for their innovative programming and musical style full of energy and emotion. Ensemble Corund presents an annual concert series in Lucerne, and is also gaining a reputation through CD and radio broadcast recordings.
Wolfgang Sieber was born in 1954 and studied piano, organ and church music. His teachers included Hans Vollenweider in Zurich, Jiri Reinberger in Prague, Gaston Litaize and Jean Langlais in Paris, and Franz Lehrndorfer in Munich. His work as a soloist, accompanist, rehearsal pianist and chamber music partner encompasses classical, ethnic and folk music as well as some jazz, and his performances in a wide range of programmes, styles and groups reach as far afield as Konzeptimprovisation. His thirty CD recordings take him from Berlin to the KKL, and from Japan to the the Alpine hinterland. Besides being active as an interpreter and composer, Sieber teaches children and youth as well as concert organ classes for the Swiss Music Pedagogic Association. He is a supporter of young musicians and works at facilitating and initiating encounters with composers, concert series’, promotional organizations, premiere performances. He also appears on juries, is an examination expert and works as an organ consultant.
As a church musician at the monastery church of St. Leodeger in Lucerne, Wolfgang engages in a broad range of musical activities. He serves as the monastery organist, and has at his disposal the historically restored Walpen organ, which is the most stylistically diverse instrument of its kind in Switzerland. It is due to Sieber’s initiative that pipe layout, dating from 1648/1862 and set aside in 1972, has been re-introduced in the “organ landscape of the cathedral.” An echowerk is being planned for the Great Organ, and will find a place in the choir area of the cathedral. In November 2009, Wolfgang Sieber was awarded the Art and Culture Prize by the city of Lucerne.
Stephen Smith was born in the United States in 1955 and has lived in Switzerland since 1982. His musical life began at the age of seven at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After completing his studies in organ, church music and conducting in the United States and Switzerland, Smith began devoting himself intensively to Renaissance and Baroque music. He is especially interested in historically informed performance practice, which has borne fruit in more than 200 concerts in Switzerland and abroad with his Ensemble Corund of Lucerne, which he founded in 1993. He serves as cantor and organist at St. Matthew’s Church in Lucerne and directs several choirs.
Engagements with his ensemble, as guest conductor, and as organist, have taken him to England, Spain, Germany, Poland, Latvia, the Bermudas, and the United States, as well as throughout Switzerland. With his ensembles, Smith has played an influential role on the Swiss Baroque scene due to his early interest in propagating Joshua Rifkin’s one-voice-per part ideal for the vocal works of Bach. Thus, it is with the smallest of forces that he has performed the Mass in B minor, the six motets, the Lutheran Masses, the Magnificat, the Passions and many of the cantatas
in well-received concerts in Switzerland and the United States. In 2002, for the one hundredth anniversary of Mauric Duruflé’s birth, Smith led performances of that composer’s complete church music in addition to orchestral and organ works — a unique event in Switzerland. He has given the Lucerne premiere of the London chamber version of Brahms’ German Requiem, and has performed the first version of Rossini’s Petite messe solendnelle for 12 voices accompanied by two pianos and harmonium. He was the first conductor to give a Swiss performance of Britten’s early vocal work A Boy Was Born and also conducted the first Lucerne performance of Britten’s cantata Saint Nicholas. Smith has also been the first musician to give live performances in central Switzerland of Mexican Baroque music, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri in conjunction with video artist Judith Albert, Victoria’s Tenebrae Reponsorien with improvisations by jazz singer Lauren Newton, as well as the complete concertos for two, three, and four keyboards by J. S. Bach. For the last twenty years, Smith has been artistic director of a concert series in Lucerne. He has recorded many CDs and radio broadcasts which testify to a broad range of interests and activities. Further information is available at www.stephensmith.ch.