Euphorium 2021

The annual Euphorium Festival takes place in Leipzig, an industrial city of 600,000 in the heart of former East Germany. Organized by Oliver Schwerdt, the pianist, producer, writer and chief of the Euphorium record label, this year’s two evenings of mixed and matched programs in mid-November featured committed improvisers of varied ages and experience. See Ken Waxman’s review on our first page (Site Updates) and more photos on All images (c) Susan O’Connor.

On hand were two veteran innovators, German percussionist Günter Baby Sommer and British bassist Barry Guy. Mid-career experimenters Swiss drummer Julian Sartorius, German trumpeter Axel Dörner, Mexican vibraphonist Emilio Gordoa and American trumpeter Liz Allbee were part of other configurations. Meanwhile, lesser-known German-based improvisers flutist Karoline Schulz, harpist Kathrin Pechlof and organist Daniel Beilschmidt contributed new ideas in larger groupings with Allbee and Gordoa. Schwerdt expressed himself on both nights playing piano plus a collection of little instruments that were blown into, thrown, slapped, tapped or shaken. There was also space for pseudo-Dadaist spoken word interjections from local Fredrich Kettilitz with Schwerdt’s enthusiastic accompaniment on Night 1, and an interlude of a short Guy composition for solo violin played by Switzerland’s Maya Homburger on Night 2.