Sunday, 29.9.2024
5.00 pm

Ladies’ choice



Evelyn Brunner, double bass & schwyzerörgeli
Kristina Brunner, cello & schwyzerörgeli
Maria Gehrig, violin & recorder
Barbara Gisler, cello & double bass
Cristina Janett, cello
Madlaina Janett, viola
Hanna Landolt, violin
Gaby Näf, clarinet & saxophone
Martina Rohrer, double bass
Andrea Ulrich, accordion
Patricia Ulrich, piano

The eleven women musicians of “Damenwahl” (literally: “Ladies’ choice”) here wander through all manner of Swiss folk music styles and moods, with “women” as their prime topic.

Prices: CHF 85 / 70 / 50 / 35


About the programme

At festive balls in the 18th and 19th centuries, the rules were clear: it was the men who asked the ladies to dance. The latter could refuse such an invitation, but were nevertheless forbidden from choosing their own dance partner. The so-called “ladies’ choice” dances – which were often the highlight of the evening – turned this principle on its head. Here, the women were allowed to choose their partner. Sociobiology – a branch of behavioural biology focused on evolution – sees this phenomenon of the “ladies’ choice” in terms of the animal world, where it is predominantly the females that play the decisive role in selecting a mate. At a “ladies’ choice” dance in the 19th century, it was inappropriate for a man to refuse an invitation when offered. This was probably also to prevent the unwilling among the men from putting a spanner in the works, some of them being clearly disinclined to dance at all, as we can read in certain magazines of the time. In one report, a man wrote: “It was ‘ladies’ choice’. That dreadful phrase! They were chasing me to death. I sank exhausted onto the nearest canapé and fell asleep”. And another: “At the ‘ladies’ choice’: ‘Do you dance, sir?’ – ‘Not much today, for a change. – But in general? – ‘Never!’”.

There’s a somewhat different “ladies’ choice” taking place in the Andermatt Concert Hall (and no one need fear being dragged onto the stage to dance!). Many older “Ländler” hits were composed by men, but in fact describe women and everything about them, such as “Wybergschtürm” (“Women in turmoil”) or “Die ruhigen Weiber in der Waschküche” (“The quiet women in the laundry room”). For a long time, the folk music scene was dominated by men, with women allowed only a marginal place. The few women who gained exposure in folk music from the interwar years onwards were active almost without exception as yodelling soloists, and rarely played an integral role in any instrumental ensembles. The situation has changed considerably since then, though women composers in particular remain underrepresented. The members of the “Damenwahl!” project are now creating “turmoil” of a positive kind: eleven of Switzerland’s most accomplished women folk musicians here offer a concert that celebrates women’s contribution to Swiss folk music. Whether playing at full strength or in smaller, chamber music formations, they meander virtuosically through a surprising, diverse stylistic landscape, moving between traditional folk music and the new, and offering women composers a well-deserved place on the podium. Because there’s no doubt about it, the time is ripe for it – now it’s time for the “ladies’ choice”!


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