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As the trombone began to sing... And the trombone certainly did sing, due to the tremendous artistry of the soloist Mike Svoboda (playing from memory!), whose heavenly smooth tone combined with an unsurpassed dynamic and timbral flexibility was amazing. (Schwetzinger Zeitung)
In his triple role as trombonist, composer and educator, Mike Svoboda is among the most original musical personalities of our time. His work is always targeted towards connecting with listeners and bridging the gap between stage and audience, without betraying the music with gimmicky compromises. He is consistently expanding his instrument’s repertoire and has premiered over 400 works to date. These include numerous trombone concertos, which he performed with orchestras including the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Bochumer Symphoniker, SWR Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner Orchester Linz and the Sinfonieorchester Basel under conductors such as Stefan Asbury, Peter Rundel, Jonathan Nott, Ilan Volkov and Dennis Russel Davis.
The list of composers with whom Mike Svoboda has worked over the last thirty years gives some idea of the diversity of works that he has premiered: it includes, among others, Sandeep Bagwahti, Sidney Corbett, Christian Jost, Georg Friedrich Haas, Manuel Hidalgo, Heinz Holliger, Benedict Mason, Wolfram Schürig, Martin Smolka, Mattias Spahlinger, Bernd Thewes and Frank Zappa. He most recently gave the world premieres of Wolfgang Rihm’s Canzona per sonare for alto trombone and two orchestra groups, Voyage III by Toshio Hosokawa, the music theatre work As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams by Peter Eötvös and NUN for flute, trombone and orchestra by Helmut Lachenmann. He has also given the German premieres of Michael Nyman’s trombone concerto and that of Iannis Xenakis, Troorkh.
Having premiered Georg Friedich Haas’ Concerto for trombone and orchestra together with the SWR Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alejo Pérez at the Donaueschinger Musiktage with great success, Mike Svoboda will perform the work again in the 2017/18 season with the Basel Sinfonieorchester under Michal Nesterowicz as well as with the Deutschen Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Evan Christ. To mark the Pogrom Night Remembrance Day in Dresden, he will perform Isang Yun’s Der Herr ist mein Hirte for choir and solo trombone with the Dresdner Kammerchor under Hans-Christoph Rademann. His children’s project Once around the world lies close to his heart; following its premiere at the Lucerne Festival in Spring 2017, it will be performed in an arrangement for youth orchestra in Essen in Autumn 2017.
Born on the western Pacific island of Guam in 1960, Mike Svoboda grew up in Chicago and studied composition and conducting at the University of Illinois. One of his early teachers was Ben Johnston, who extended Harry Partch's experiments in just intonation tuning. In 1982 he won the BMI Young Composers Award and used the money to relocate to Europe. His time spent as trombonist and assistant with Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1984 to 1996 proved to be of eminent importance for Mike Svoboda’s musical development.
Mike Svoboda has repeatedly been recognised for his creative work, including with the Schneider-Schott-Musikpreis Mainz (2000), The German Record Critics' Award (2005) and the Praetorius Musikpreis Niedersachsen in the category “Music Innovation” (2008). Numerous CDs, mainly for the WERGO label, document his art both as a performer and composer. In 2005 he founded the Mike Svoboda Ensemble with music colleagues from around the world. He has been Professor for trombone and contemporary chamber music at the Hochschule für Musik Basel since 2007.
This biography is to be reproduced without any changes, omissions or additions, unless expressly authorised by the artist management.
When the trombone skips and dances from the highest register down into the depths and back up again at an astonishing tempo; when it chatters and sings, whispers and screams defiantly; in short, when the trombone is played with such nuance, it speaks as if human. Then Mike Svoboda plays it, a brilliant musician.
Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Verena Großkreutz, 02/01/2017 (On the German premiere of Kurt Schwertsik's Mixed Feelings (Gemischte Gefühle))
(…) Mike Svoboda is not only a composer, but a God amongst trombone players who seems to have flawless technique.
Schwaebische.de, Stephan Hoffmann, 17/10/2016
The American trombonist Mike Svoboda, a Swiss resident, explored the sound possibilities of his instrument with virtuosity and unbelievable technical mastery – and, made it look easy.
Der Westen, Elisabeth Höving, 31/05/2016
As the trombone began to sing… And the trombone certainly did sing due to the tremendous artistry of the soloist Mike Svoboda (playing from memory!), whose heavenly smooth tone combined with an unsurpassed dynamic and timbral flexibility was amazing. (…)
Schwetzinger Zeitung (On the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Canzona per sonare)
A lively masquerade between Wagner, new music, jazz, rock, and pop with brief texts „for, against, and by Wagner" that emerges from the brilliantly crafted and enthusiastically experimental “14 Attempts to love Richard Wagner” by the American trombonist and composer Mike Svoboda. The collage, which presents itself as “Adult Entertainment” imparted congenially by Svoboda's quartet without any stylistic blinders.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
After this concert everybody who considers contemporary music to be sterile and inaccessible is refuted. Mike Svoboda has the rare gift to present complicated music with exactly the right twist of irony making it what Mozart's piano concertos once were: excellent entertainment, wholesome for belly and intellect that lets the audience laugh as well as think. There ought to be more serious concerts with that much humour!
…a musical clown and high-performance instrumentalist…
The all-rounder Mike Svoboda, trombone virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist...
|Trombone and chamber orchestra or ensemble|
|FRIEDRICH CERHA||Music for Trombone and strings (2005)|
|PETER EÖTVÖS||"As I crossed the bridge of dreams" (1999)|
|TOSHIO HOSOKAWA||Voyage III (1997)|
|DAVID LANG||Men (2001)|
|BENEDICT MASON||Sackbutt Concerto (1996)|
|MARTIN SMOLKA||Lullaby (2003)|
|MARCO STROPPA||Inside the needle's eye (1996-99)|
|MIKE SVOBODA||ALIAS - Mozart aka Rossini (2004)|
|Trombone and large orchestra|
|PASCAL DUSAPIN||Watt (1996)|
|CHRISTIAN JOST||Dies Irae (2001)|
|HELMUT LACHENMANN||NUN (1999)|
|MICHAEL NYMAN||Trombone Concerto (1995)|
|WOLFGANG RIHM||Canzona per sonare "Über die Linie" V (2002)|
|NINO ROTA||Concerto per Trombone e Orchestra (1966)|
|JAN SANDSTRÖM||Trombone Concerto "Motorbike Odysee" (1989/2002)|
|KURT SCHWERTSIK||Mixed Feelings (2001)|
|MIKE SVOBODA||Love Hurts - Carmen Remix (2003)|
|Music for Trombone and Orchestra (2010)|
|TORU TAKEMITSU||Fantasma/Cantos II (1994)|
|IANNIS XENAKIS||Troorkh pour trombone solo et orchestre (1993)|
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Mike Svoboda Ensemble (Anne-May Krüger, Stefan Hussong, Mike Svoboda)
Wergo, WER 68062, 2008
Mike Svoboda Ensemble (Scott Roller, Wolfgang Fernow, Michael Kiedaisch, Mike Svoboda)
Wergo, WER 68022, 2004
Mike Svoboda Ensemble (Wolfgang Fernow, Stefan Hussong, Michael Kiedaisch, Michael Riessler, Scott Roller, Mike Svoboda)
Wergo, WER 66592, 2003
Stefan Hussong, accordion | Mike Svoboda: composer, trombone
Wergo, WER 66552; 2002