Playing with Lucerne

It may be difficult for you to imagine, but I am sitting in my music studio (in an 18th century barn near Boston) this morning listening to Lucerne! It is grey and rainy here, and the first chill of winter is in the air, but I am surrounded by beautiful sounds of water (fountains in city squares, rain hitting roofs and pavement, the lake both still and churned with steamboat waterwheels, the river both gurgling and roaring), conversation, laughter, music of all types (from Festival Academy orchestra to yodeling to alphorn to church organ to street flamenco), and bells, bells, bells everywhere – on cows, from churches, in streetcars, all tolling gently but rhythmically. What a pleasure to be immersed in Lucerne from so far away.

That is the power of music, and especially the power of soundscapes. Audio engages our ears and goes directly to our imaginations. Without words or images, sound lets our minds recreate a sense of story and place, bringing us back to somewhere we have visited or allowing us to experience somewhere new. Since my last visit to Lucerne during Festival-time in August, I have received numerous recordings from all around the city, and I have put them in a form where I can play individual sounds, match them with similar sounds or juxtapose them with contrasting ones, layer sounds to make intricate collages, or join them in time to make dream-like trajectories through the city and surroundings. In “playing with Lucerne” like this, I am struck by the gentle, inviting nature of the city, the lilting quality of voices and songs, the lovely resonance of wood in bridges and footpaths, and the overall tranquility that seems to calm cows and cars equally.

I will be back in Lucerne from November 22-26 to continue my sonic explorations and – hopefully – to meet some of you at Piano Festival events at the KKL or during our Sound-to-Music workshop on Sunday the 23rd at 3pm. As you may know, we have launched an app which lets you easily record any sound with your personal mobile device, give it a geographical marker, and then listen to all other uploaded sounds. We will soon introduce online apps so you can consider and combine numerous sounds as I am currently doing at my home studio, and so you can help to create the textures and trajectories of our collaborative Symphony for Lucerne.

It is a very great pleasure to spend quiet, individual time lost in the sonic beauty of Lucerne. Bit it is an even greater pleasure to share these musical stories with you. So please follow this blog (which I promise to update more frequently over the coming period), check the Symphony for Lucerne website for updates, and join me in creating a musical journey that will capture the essential qualities of this special city for people near and far, for right now and for far into the future.

Sonically yours,



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