After their marvelous performance at the Sol Veritas Lux Festival, the band kindly agreed to answer some questions for Heimdallr about their performance and their music amongst other things...

1) Do you think that performing in this unique location adds something special to your performance?

Elena - Of course it does. As a matter of fact, we believe a live performance represents a unique and very special occasion, that's how we experience it each time we play, so there's no routine. Playing live is something like a mystical experience for us. I conceive the concert as the celebration of a ritual: the special location of La Sarraz revealed itself particularly appropriate in this respect. Anyway, it is true that any concert represents a very important event for us, but it is also very exhausting and stressful and even painful in a sense, wherever we are.

Daniela - Just think of tonight: at first we had very big problems with the sound and apparently this place was not the best one we would play in. But then the concert turned out very well anyway, although we didn't play inside the castle, so it was not really what we had expected it would be but... The audience was, in a sense, a selected audience. Those people who were there were very interested in the concert. So the atmosphere was great anyway. And the people appreciated, they really appreciated, because they were there to hear and to enjoy the concert. So it was a good experience.

2) Is it important for you to play in places that have a strong historical atmosphere?

D - A place where you can breathe a strong historical atmosphere inspires you in a very special way. However, any place has got its own unique charm and you have to be able to feel it and capture it so that you can share it with the audience. There is always a deep, subtle feeling between the performers and their audience and they are both there to share a unique experience. Whether you play in a castle or in a factory, you have to be able of producing an event, of creating your own atmosphere. And even if the audience probably expects you to do something according to the location of the concert, you have to feel free to perform and express yourself; so I don't know whether you should do exactly what people expect you to do or not (laughs) it depends!

3) On stage you present the stronger percussive aspect of your music, reserving your research on pure melodiousness for your studio output. Is this balance essential to the band?

E - It is true that during our live performances we have given more and more relevance to the percussive aspect, thus limiting the melodious one. This does not certainly imply that we judge the first one more important than the second one; it is simply due to actual reasons: "pure melodiousness" is the hardest experience for today's average listener. In the present age, the musical ear of the average occidental audience is alarmingly becoming less and less sensitive, and only when there is silence and training you can let people enjoy such precious jewels.

4) Could you play a melodious concert for a very special audience?

E - Yes, we have already given concerts for vocals and ancient instruments for the audience of classical music. In that case, the people who come to see you do know what it is all about and are prepared for a listening in absolute silence.

5) Have you already done a concert like that?

E - The first concert given by this ensemble, named Camerata Sforzesca, took place recently in Treviso (I). On that occasion, we performed some "erotic" scenes from the "Incoronazione di Poppea" by Monteverdi, an opera of 1637, but we also played some tracks by Camerata, of course the ones for vocals and harpsichord. Above all, the fact of having at my disposal a really beautiful harpsichord with two 'manuals' (a 'double-keyboard' instrument) produced a unique result. Performing Monteverdi, we meant to give our audience an idea of what Baroque Opera is; nowadays, the average audience doesn't know exactly what it is, so each track was introduced by an explanation which clarified its meaning. In fact, in order to be successful, first of all such a performance needs to be understood by the listeners; moreover, the singers must also be good actors and luckily Daniela is extraordinarily gifted in this respect as well. The result was really excellent.
As for the future, we are working at an organ and vocals concert, that will take place in a church in Vercelli (Piemonte) and will be mainly dedicated to the "Inferno" trilogy, now completed. As Camerata Sforzesca, we will probably take part in the next Gotik Treffen as well.

6) L'Alfiere, your last record, is a split with Pavor Nocturnus. Can you present this new project to us? Rumours say that it is a collaboration between Camerata Mediolanense and Trevor's side project NorthGate.

All - No no no (laughs).

Trevor - "L'Alfiere" is a split 10" between Camerata Mediolanense and Pavor Nocturnus, which is a band founded by a friend of ours. With his project he has released two tracks for "L'Alfiere". NorthGate is something different. This is my personal project and it has existed since 1992; we have released three albums and some singles. The line-up of NorthGate varies quite a lot, especially in the live performances. For example, on several occasions a great part of Camerata Mediolanense played with NorthGate, using keyboards and drums. At the moment, Marco, one of Camerata's drummers, is playing with NorthGate and so is Giacomo, the other guy playing electronic instruments. I'm playing guitar together with another guitar player so it's a little bit electronic at the moment but it's constantly changing. We haven't planned anything for the future and I like that. The only word I'd use to describe NorthGate is "industrial", because this is my true love and it will always be so. In a kind of "ambient" or "psychedelic-electronical" form, anyway it's industrial. I think the new album "The blue builders" is one of the works which best represents NorthGate.

7) What are the reasons for the collaboration on "L'Alfiere"?

E - We work with Pavor Nocturnus a lot; he's been our sound engineer for "Madrigali" and for many of our works. He is a very close friend of ours, he is helpful and he has a melodic genius. I wanted to see his work on record. He is a very reserved person and he doesn't want his name to appear.

8) Will you be playing live with Pavor Nocturnus one day?

D - Who knows?

E - At the moment, it's hard to say, since we have a lot of things to do and very little time and he is also very busy. But I hope this record will encourage him to go on working and releasing new things.

9) Your previous album, Madrigali, presented a collection of traditional European songs. Can L'Alfiere be seen as a continuation of this work?

E & D - No, I don't think so. It is something different.

10) Even if "L'Alfiere" is influenced by Arbeau's work?
The insert presents the work of the French composer Arbeau. Does that influence the work on "L'Alfiere"?

E - Arbeau was a theorist rather than a composer, and certainly a very peculiar person. He was one of the very first theorists interested in war rhythms and in the relationship between music and war, and maybe the first theorist who inserted tracks with percussion-accompaniment in a treatise apparently dedicated to dance. He wrote in the XVI century.
Creating "L'Alfiere", we haven't been influenced by Arbeau, but "L'Alfiere" ("The Ensign"), was the reason why we chose Arbeau's text. And our deep, ancient, incurable interest for European rhythm has been the starting point for our work.

D - In "L'Alfiere" there are two tracks by Camerata Mediolanense: they are both ancient songs from the Middle Ages in which the percussive element is very strong; that's why we chose l'Arbeau as a text to explain how people used to play drums in the ancient times.

E - Even if it seems strange, rhythm has a common origin in war as in dance. The rhythm of war is dance. And Arbeau explains this concept very well. In the XVIth century, this concept was clearer than today. If you understand this origin, which is very ancient, you can also understand why rhythm in Europe developed according to the metrical schemes we all know and why, for example, this didn't happen in the civilisations of other continents, which developed a totally different sense of rhythm, that has been exported here only in the last centuries.

11) You seem to be attached to the perpetuation of European traditions. Is this cultural heritage important for you?

T - Of course it is. We wouldn't like everything to get lost and we are afraid this might happen. At least 50 per cent of current musical trends is interesting and 50 per cent horrible. According to us, it is important to keep traditions alive. And music is a universal means of communication. People might ignore their own cultural roots; but, for example, if someone belonging to a younger generation buys a record from Camerata Mediolanense, he may ask himself: "what do they take inspiration from? I'd like to know that, I'd like to read books, I'd like to keep these things alive" and... that's just the opposite of what the media do (laughs). And so this is important for us.

12) L'Alfiere has been released by the German label Eis & Licht. Can you tell us why you joined this label?

E - Stephan Pockrandt has always appreciated the Camerata Mediolanense; he has become a friend of ours as well. We took part to one of his compilations in the past. He also organised one concert of the Camerata; he's always been a very correct person...

D - Our collaboration with him and his label started on the basis of friendship, basically.

13) Are there any new releases planned on this label?

E - Apart from the label, we find it difficult to think of our next full-length work... We are still very far from reaching this goal.

D - Probably, our next release will be...

T - We will start working very soon, though (laughs), 'cause "Madrigali", our most recent album, was released two years ago...

D - No!No! Three!

T - Three?

D - 1998.

T - 1998... 1998. So three years ago and now we have to do something new.

14) What will become My Castle, your own label? Will it be used to release the last instalment of the Inferno series?

D - Yes, definitely.

E - As My Castle, we are also reprinting our three Cds. "Musica Reservata" especially benefited by this, because we remastered it completely.

15) When will we see the last instalment?

E - "Inferno III" (The third and last 7" of the "Inferno" trilogy) will probably be out in Winter with a special package. We have been working on this record for a long time. This is a very important record for the Camerata.

D - Maybe, with My Castle we will record other things as well.

16) Will there be a follow-up to "Onore Alle Arti"?

E - No, I don't think so, unfortunately: it took us a long time to produce that beautiful record, and today it's hard for us even to find the time to work for the Camerata...

D - It is an experience belonging to the past.

17) Do you think that the internet is important to make people know your music?

E - Yes, but it also causes some hard problems. The internet is a kind of contradiction. It is certainly useful, and we use it, but we don't think it brings freedom, on the contrary we think it turns us into slaves. We feel worried about its dangers, about the high price you may have to pay for its convenience: for example, think about the very easy deformation of reality, about the violation of one's privacy, about the abolition of the secret. The title of our first record is "Musica Reservata": this last word means "reserved" in an esoteric sense. Where is the Secret in this big shop-window? Being in the global village really hurts me. Our music is neither made nor meant for this village, on the contrary it is made and meant against it.

Ian C.
July 2001 - March 2002