Nathanael Gubler, contemporary viola player

Who or what inspired you to take up the viola and pursue a career in music?

When I had played the violin for a few years, I felt I wanted to learn something new. The viola was a new instrument, and I didn’t even have to learn everything from scratch!

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

In early days definitely my viola teacher. Later on composers, painters and sculpturers.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Accepting that I don’t come from an a background which promotes (new) art.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

My recording of a piece called Lionheart by my dear friend Bertram Wee. I am the first person recording the complete version and it means an awful lot to me. Last spring, I had to honour to perform it in front of Luciano Berios widow in a very intimate concert space. An unforgettable experience.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Lionheart and maybe another work by another friend: The Whisper of Phoenix by Alexander Khubeev.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I basically think: “Which composer needs to be played more?

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I very much like the Cello Factory in London. A very small gallery for very personal expression. For orchestral concerts maybe the Tonhalle in Zurich.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Helmut Lachenmann, Matthias Pintscher

What is your most memorable concert experience?

A concert of our contemporary Ensemble performing in a very small school, with very small audience. The atmosphere was just so unpretentious and living in the very moment.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

That I can play music which would otherwise not be heard.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Don’t let other people choose your core repertoire

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

An environment in which I am allowed be sad, angry, depressed, to love and breathe.

Nathanael will appear at the 2018 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (16-25 November) and the 2019 Borough New Music Festival in London.

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