Clemens Merkel (QC) (2017–2020)

I am very hap­py and proud to serve as a board mem­ber for the CNMN. My first encounter with the CNMN was the forum in Hal­i­fax 2010. The expe­ri­ence of a com­mu­ni­ty of artists, pre­sen­ters and pro­duc­ers from all over the coun­try com­ing togeth­er to one place for three days to exchange, talk, plan, dream and make music was a true revelation.

On that week­end this huge coun­try – rough­ly the size of Europe but less than 5% of its pop­u­la­tion – start­ed to reveal a musi­cal iden­ti­ty to me, through all the peo­ple I had heard of but had nev­er met, all the com­posers, per­form­ers and pre­sen­ters I knew but had no per­son­al rela­tion­ship. The forums that fol­lowed have helped me immense­ly to under­stand the cul­tur­al life of Canada.

Through my work with Quatuor Bozzi­ni I have expe­ri­ence in net­work­ing, in tour­ing, in cre­at­ing new work, and in co-direct­ing a small and very active com­pa­ny: this is what I want to bring to the CNMN board. At the same time, I am look­ing for­ward to exchange with my Board col­leagues and learn from what they are bring­ing to the table. It is a very impor­tant time for music in Cana­da and for music from Cana­da, and I am hap­py to help devel­op­ing it.

Clemens Merkel’s uncon­ven­tion­al sound defines a new sen­si­bil­i­ty in con­tem­po­rary music, through its inti­mate puri­ty of tone, its set­tled under­stand­ing of micro­ton­al or uncon­ven­tion­al har­mon­ic lan­guage, and its unhur­ried sen­si­tiv­i­ty. He is well known for inno­v­a­tive inter­pre­ta­tions of Bach and John Cage, and is sought after by com­posers world­wide as an inspi­ra­tion for new reper­toire. His diverse col­lab­o­ra­tors range from the Wan­del­weis­er col­lec­tive to Montréal’s Musique Actuelle com­mu­ni­ty, and from emerg­ing exper­i­men­tal­ists to today’s most revered composers.

Since 1999, Merkel’s unusu­al sound has fused with that of the Quatuor Bozzi­ni, con­sid­ered one of the world’s lead­ing string quar­tets. Togeth­er they have men­tored an entire gen­er­a­tion of cre­ators through the Composer’s Kitchen; have released numer­ous crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed albums on their col­lec­tion qb label; under­take mul­ti­ple tours annu­al­ly to be fea­tured at fes­ti­vals world­wide; and main­tain a pro­found impact on the music scene across Cana­da and Europe in par­tic­u­lar. They nour­ish Mon­tréal audi­ences with unusu­al self-pro­duced events that bridge worlds and cross bound­aries of style, gen­er­a­tion and culture.

Fol­low­ing an ear­ly career in Europe, where he con­tributed to the continent’s lead­ing ensem­bles, Merkel has made Mon­tréal his home since 2000. He sup­ports and advo­cates for new music in Québec and in Cana­da, and is reg­u­lar­ly sought after as speak­er, cura­tor and advis­er. His pres­ence is felt in acad­e­mia as well, through arti­cles writ­ten for the Revue Cir­cuit, and through his teach­ing at Con­cor­dia Uni­ver­si­ty. He’s a pas­sion­ate chef and lives in Montréal’s Por­tuguese neigh­bor­hood togeth­er with his wife Isabelle Bozzi­ni and chil­dren Félix and Béatrice.