Jürg Halter is a lyricist, spoken word artist and visual artist. He will be performing his latest song »Wir sind gute Menschen« at the opening concert of Beethovenfest 2023 – for the first time in a live version with orchestra and spoken word.
1. »Wir sind gute Menschen« (»We are good people«) is a cynical swan song to humanity – is there any hope of doing something ›good‹ for the future?
I would say it’s a equivocal swan song, cynical in some lines, desperate and angry in others. But I also see the piece as a wake-up call. Subliminal in »We are good people« is perhaps even a vague hope. Because yes, without hope you die. But moralistic condescension doesn’t convince people to change and recognise the plight of the situation. On the contrary. We are all part of the problem, some much more, some much less.
2. Is there an event that gave rise to the poetry?
There is no specific event. It just strikes me again and again: Those who take a moralistic stance are often characterised by a particularly perfidious double standard. At every economic and climate summit, those who can actually make a decisive change pledge to do better. In most cases, it remains empty promises, a bit of greenwashing and symbolic politics. It is actually clear to everyone: We can’t achieve the climate turnaround with personal responsibility. What strikes me again and again is that those who can afford it are particularly keen to publicly call for people to abstain from things.
3. How did the song »We are good people« come about in collaboration with the two co-composers?
I often work in a process-orientated way and with different musicians. In this case, the song emerged from a session with the master drummer Fredy Studer, who died last year, and the pianist Roberto Domeniconi. The vocal artist Andreas Schaerer was later added as a guest vocalist for choirs and beatbox elements. I produced the song with Luk Zimmermann.
4. Why do you perform your texts, what fascinates you about »spoken word«?
I am a versatile language artist. I write books, essays, give lectures, paint linguistic images and perform with musicians from time to time. But the spoken word is the most direct form of literature. And therefore central to my work.
5. Beethoven, classical music: Is there a link to your own artistic work?
Beethoven was an unconventional visionary in his time and by no means as uncontroversial as he is today. I can relate to this, even though I work in a different field and at a completely different time. I am also a seeker who dares to try new things and does not take the path of least resistance. I am not a classical music connoisseur, but I love classical music. For me, the boundaries between the different art genres are fluid. That’s why it’s natural for me to work transdisciplinary. The form comes from the idea.