Who or what inspired you to take up the recorder, and pursue a career in music?
As a child, I wanted to play the piano, but when my best friend started to play the recorder, I decided to join her. Best decision ever!
When I had to start playing the piano later in preparation for musical studies (in Germany, playing the piano is mandatory if you want to study music), I realised how limited the piano is and how much I was missing sound-wise.
I was regarded a great talent from early age on, so it felt natural to pursue a career as a freelance musician. Freedom and self-management are very important parts of my being a musician – I love to explore, create, experiment, and also to say “no!”, if needed.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Mostly non-musical people first, like my grandmother, who told me to listen to my heart rather than to other people; later fellow musicians, teachers, etc..
I was puzzled when I looked around and mostly found men in charge and visible everywhere in the music business. At that point, my focus on fostering the multi-disciplinary artistic work of woman developed, and I started looking for like-minded people, like, for example, composer and fellow activist Dr. Dorone Paris. Together, we founded the organisation ArtEquality, and are on our way to turn the world into a better place through #ArtAsActivism.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To end the belittlement regarding my instrument and the difficulties of being a woman in the music business. Since I am active in the acoustic as well as the electronic sector, there is always a bunch of guys supporting their fellow guys to deal with. It is such a pity that so much creative energy by women has to be wasted on fighting repression and harassment…
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
My solo recording “Windserie” with my own works from basically the last 20 years, and my solo recitals from the series “the sadly unknown”, also the inter-disciplinary work with artist Carola Czempik, …
Which particular works do you think you play best?
The “fun fact” about the recorder is everybody thinks they know the instrument, but when they start to compose for it, it turns out to be a quite interesting and difficult challenge.
The works I play best are the works written for me, by composers who do the necessary research on the instrument, interact with and involve me, etc., like Nicoleta Chatzopoulou, Marc Yeats, Jeanne Strieder, Catherine Robson, Mathias Spahlinger, to name a few beacons in the luckily steady growing group of risk-taking composers.
With Jeanne Strieder, I also perform in an industrial-doom-electronic project called Catenation (as well as in two death metal bands, Coma Cluster Void and Infinite Nomad).
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I am in the very lucky position of having a pool of incredible and diverse works, and also being presented with stunning new works regularly. Since I also travel a lot, many aspects have to be taken into account while creating a new programme: Where is the concert, festival, concert series? How many instruments do I need? (bear in mind that I need a different instrument for every single piece of music on the programme – recorders are very sensitive, and can only be played a certain amount of time on a daily basis, due to air pressure and condensation). Is it possible to use electronics and / or visuals / projection? Is there any composer I know and / or who has written for me residing at the place, or a person I would like to collaborate with? Which part of the world is the concert going to happen, what’s the temperature / air pressure / humidity, plane or train or car, and so on. So my programmes are always exclusively built and adapted for every occasion, place, and audience.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
No, not really – I like many places for different reasons, like acoustics or atmosphere.
Who are your favourite musicians?
The ones I work with on a regular basis: violin player Alexa Renger (for over 20 years now), the Reanimation Orchestra, oboe player Freddi Börnchen, tenor saxophone player Dr. Dorone Paris, and partner-in-crime Jeanne Strieder.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Performing in Mexico in a contrasting concert programme of Bach fugues and contemporary music. The (mostly young) people greeted the performance with such a heartfelt enthusiasm, like a rock concert – an incredible experience!
The audience in general seems to be very mixed in age; you have the whole range from newborns to seniors. Unlike in germany, people want to express their feelings and gratitude, and love to talk to artists about their experiences: in the concert hall, in the parking garage, at the rest room… Everybody is so open and highly interested, it is just lovely to be and perform there.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To be creative, to be content with my artistic output, to be able to bring my music and my artistic creations to the global public, to be able to interact with other arts and disciplines, to be fostering a network and work towards equality.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Find your own way, and take your time! Don’t simply repeat, create!
What is your most treasured possession?
My collection of recorders from sopranino to sub-doublebass in different woods, models, and tunings.
What is your present state of mind?
Forward-looking, but impatient regarding the uprise of the right-winged. nevertheless, without art, there is no hope nor solace.
Praised for her equally fierce and bold dramatic performance style, Sylvia Hinz is one of the leading recorder players worldwide, specialised in contemporary music and improvisation.