In February 2016 and 2017 I was glad to visit Denmark because of the annual residency of the class of free improvisation of Basels music academy in Kirsten Kjaer’s Museum in Frøstrup, in the north of Jutland. The residencies were always accompanied from Alfred Zimmerlin, our teacher, and all this idea started after the invitation of Mina Fred, a viola player and one of the first students of this master’s degree, who lives in Denmark. By the way, both Alfred Zimmerlin and Fred Frith hated to be considered as teachers, either because they believed that free improvisation cannot be taught or probably because we were quite bad students… but that worths another post.
The museum was in the forest between Frøstrup and Thylejren, a “hippie camp”, which was really an improvised camp lasting since the ’70s after a big music festival of this legendary Woodstock generation.
Kirsten Kjaer was a painter born in 1893 and the museum was built with the vision and the efforts of John Andersen and Harald Fuglsang to collect her works from several places around the world, where Kirsten Kjaer travelled and painted.
The vibe of the place was very strong. We were all excited to be there and we were waiting for our residencies there for months. At the same time with our residencies there were luckily also other artists living and working there, David, Pia, Laslo, Stefan and others with whom we always had nice encounters and we discussed for hours in front of the fireplace. Being outside in -15°C and carrying wood was giving a lot to this groove. Next to the residency house but adapted to the museum there is the concert hall, an amazing room out of wood with a theater stage and a grand piano -just perfect acoustic and warm reverb because of the wood all around the big room- where we gave concerts of improvised music every evening in different constellations. I still have hanging in my room the five waterprints of Pia Skølberg, who drew us in 2016 during our concerts there and I was of course extremely happy on our last day, when Pia offered me so kindly her pieces of art.
In 2016 we were 11 musicians in Frøstrup. Sylvain Haenen (guitar) and Louis Freres (bass) from Liège, Marc Vilanova Pinyol (sax) from Barcelona, Diego Kohn (violin) from Buenos Aires, Marina Tantanozi (flute) from Thessaloniki, Hugo Panzer (percussion) from Biel, Luke Wilkins (violin) from Freiburg, Anna-Paolina Hasslacher (piano) from Strasbourg, Clara Weil (voice) from Strasbourg and Robert Torche (electronics) from Biel.
In 2017 we were again 11 musicians Sylvain, Marc, Marina, Diego, -Louis sadly left the studies after the 1st year-, Kazuaki Tsuda (contrabass) from Japan (I don’t know which part), Igor Stepniewski (contrabass) from Biel, Francesca Naibo (guitar) from Milano, Stefi Erni (voice) from Lucern, Raphael Sudan (piano) from Fribourg, and Javier Frausto (trombone) from Mexico (I think Oaxaka).
One of those improvisations played on Saturday 4th of March 2017 was with Sylvain Haenen, guitar and Igor Stepniewski, contrabass, duduk and flutes:
The day afterwards the three of us played another concert at the bar of Thylejren. There would be a lot to say about that and there should be a great recording, but no… The immortality of this moment is only up to our memories…
Another one played one year earlier, on the 29th of February 2016 with Hugo Panzer, drums:
The waterprints of Pia Skolberg (2016):