Meet the Artist – Christine Ott, ondiste

Who or what inspired you to take up the Ondes Martenot, and pursue a career in music?

The Ondes Martenot is a very sensual instrument, with an incredible sonic palette. I discovered it when I was studying piano at the Strasbourg Conservatory; I entered in the Ondes Martenot class at the age of eighteen. It was a paper score that caught my attention: “Son-Relief” by Jean-Marc Morin. I told to the teacher there, Françoise Cochet, that I wanted to work on it, but she replied that it was much too hard. But I insisted. Today, I tell myself that it was not trivial: the waves, for me, is really sound sculpture. After Strasbourg, I also studied the Ondes Martenot at Paris Conservatory, this time with Jeanne Loriod, Olivier Messiaen’s sister-in-law. And in 1997, I returned to the Strasbourg Conservatory to share this knowledge with students from all over the world.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

It depends of what we are considering. If you mean my musical life as an artist, for my solo work, I think not someone, but the creation of sounds itself. Often as improvisations, and linked to the physical contact I have to different instruments, the Ondes Martenot, the Piano, synths as Jupiter 8, percussions…

In terms of my career, it is Yann Tiersen, with whom I was on stage for almost ten years.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I think following Yann and its crew in his tourbus, as I had never played in a rock band before, was that kind of challenge. Before I was just performing Ondes Martenot for classical orchestras or opera. It was really a jump in something else.

Then, drawing my personal line ten years after was also another kind of challenge. My first solo album called “Solitude Nomade” was quite ambitious for me, and the organisation of concerts in collective around my music, with people like Tiersen, Jean-Marc Butty (PJ Harvey) or Raphelson was also another kind of challenge I’m happy to have managed.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Certainly “Only Silence Remains”, my second album, released on Gizeh Records in 2016.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Ask listeners.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I’m more and more focused on my own music for concerts, so this question is not really relevant to me. But when I’m playing a serious classical recital with Ondes Martenot, I’m trying to cross over different styles from old repertoire to contemporary and avant-garde. A few years ago, I was happy to have in the same evening compositions by Edouard Michael, Olivier Messiaen, Karen Tanaka, and other things more avant-garde. My forthcoming album, “Chimères (pour Ondes Martenot)” is definitely an even more contemporary and experimental approach.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Recently, I really enjoyed playing in Berlin at Silent Green – an old crematorium restructured in a concert hall, with a strange acoustic and goods vibes despite its past.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Balanescu Quartet, Thom Yorke, Mark Hollis, Rachel Grimes…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

As a performer, maybe the concert with Syd Matters in Paris.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Keep the freedom to think and create and find an echo in the life of others

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Listen, in every sense; and think about what you’re listening to.

What is your present state of mind?

Preoccupied by the world situation. I hope I and my beloved ones will cross this Covid19 tempest without any damage, but I’m rather afraid I have to say.  So I dive into music which has a real healing energy. For now…

Christine Ott’s latest album “Chimères (pour Ondes Martenot)” is released on 22 May 2020. More information