Promoting the neglected chamber music repertoire

TRACES was founded by the violinist Philippe Graffin and is a project aiming at the promotion of unjustly neglected chamber music repertoire, as well as helping young talented artists perform. The first Traces Festival took place in January 2019 in Brussels, with 8 concerts very enthusiastically received by the audience, and is planned to happen again in 2022.

Recordings are a very important part of Traces' mission, now even more so as the situation during the pandemic forces both audiences and performers out of concert halls. Season 2021/22 starts with a special concert in Brussels in September, programmed around the music of Eugene Ysaÿe and Ernest Chausson, and continues with the launch of the À la valse CD album in November.

This festival, Traces, takes its origin from a glimpse of hope: to the sound of Jeanne Moreau’s voice, uttering the last closing words in Marcel Ophuls’s documentary on Klaus Barbie. "This motion picture is dedicated to the late Madame Bontout, a good neighbour".

Madame Bontout, neighbour to the Kaddouche family, had attempted to save one of their daughters during a "raffle" in Lyon, in the second world war. Today, a similar hope resonates through the joyful picture of a young migrant from Syria, all bundled up in the snow in Brussels, displayed last year during a Jewish Museum exhibition.

How can a musician today be a good neighbour? There are probably many answers, but for a start, perhaps, a sense of duty towards remembrance.

The trumpets of fame draw us towards the pinnacles of the repertoire, where a very few composers, in fact always the same, keep the public’s interest through the test of, rather unconcerned, times. Yet, what happens when such a talented composer as Erwin Schulhof disappears prematurely in a nazi concentration camp? Or what occurs after the marvellous and well respected austrian composers Karl Weigl and his wife Waly find themselves anonymous in the United States after having fled the Anschluss?

This festival is our duty. The duty of playing the music of those who have, silently, left a few signs on some hidden pages like bottles to the sea before disappearing.

Philippe Graffin