Ludovic Van Hellemont

I have been a member of the Basel Sinfonietta since 2017. The orchestra was founded in 1980 by a group of young musicians with the goal of bringing new contemporary classical music and works both familiar and unknown to an audience enthusiastic for unusual sounds and open to experimentation. With its unconventional, provocative approach, this large symphony orchestra has achieved an international reputation. The Basel Sinfonietta has carried out performances around the world with dancers, jazz musicians, cabarettists and choral groups, in addition to projects incorporating, for instance, silent movies and multimediawww.baselsinfonietta.ch

Also in 2017, the Ensemble Phoenix Basel asked me to become their main pianist, implying that I would as well be playing harpsichord, celesta, harmonium, even melodica and at times percussion instruments. The ensemble was founded in 1998. Right from the start, this versatile orchestra for contemporary music had a significant impact on the cultural scene of its home city. The Ensemble Phoenix has had close ties to the cultural centre Gare du Nord ever since its opening, working and rehearsing there as orchestra-in-residence. www.ensemble-phoenix.ch

I saw scores of Ligeti's piano etudes for the first time when I was 13 and was fascinated right away by their unusual visual features and great difficulty. By the time I'd gotten a technique sufficient enough to play them, I started learning Désordre. Since then, I'm working my way through the complete works for piano by Ligeti, trying to interconnect these complex works of art and grasp their visionary sound world. I have performed many etudes, as well as his works for 4 hands, 2 pianos and his piano concerto.

In 2011, I performed for the first time the complete Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano by John Cage. Playing John Cage is every time again a liberating experience, ripping me free of any sense of obligation towards technique, phrasing or sound production.

"I love sounds just as they are, and I have no need for them to be anything more than what they are." - John Cage

At the time I started discovering classical music, Chopin was my very first favourite composer. Even though I developed affinities with many other composers afterwards, Chopin still occupies an important part of my repertoire today. Despite Chopin's music being so often performed and recorded (badly in many cases), I still find a renewable access to his music, thanks to the testimonies about Chopin and his teaching which are available today, historic recordings, as well as my own experiences on Pleyel pianos.

Picture on the left: performing 4 Ballades on a Pleyel piano in Royaumont, France.

At the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel I studied fortepiano, harpsichord and clavichord. Since discovering the performance practice on historic instruments, new thoughts on technique and musical esthetics have accompanied and inspired me continuously. Putting old and new music in a mirror relationship helps me to keep my ears fresh and improve my understanding of different styles.

I have written around 15 compositions for solo piano, transcriptions for 4 hand-piano and for Ondes Martenot, as well as stage music for musical theater productions. For "LT audiovisuals", I have moreover written music for several silent movies to be performed live at the piano.

Picture on the left: a still from "Safety last".

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© 2020 by Ludovic Van Hellemont