Activities 1977 - 2009
1980 - 1989

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Wiener Festwochen: Der 8.Tag

Concerto piccolo
First invitations from abroad (jazz festivals in Cologne and Zurich). The band plays really "tight" for the first time and begins to attract interest. First record contract with hatART. Joris Dudli and Jon Sass join the band. In addition to two tours, VAO performs at the Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen) in the production "Der 8. Tag" (The Eighth Day), with more than 100 other participants (the Vienna choir Jeunesse Musicale, a brass band, a solo dancer, mimes, spoken texts by Antonia Limacher and simultaneous scenic design).
In contrast, the absurdist Dada show "Der 8. Tag" was the absolute high point of the alternative culture of the Achtz’gerhaus. (Kurier, Vienna)
Favorite subject of discussion: US



Jazz Fest Berlin, Philharmonie

Suite for the green eighties
Following invitations to the Berlin Jazz Festival (Berliner Jazztage) and festivals in Donaueschingen, Hamburg, Moers and Warsaw, VAO enjoys wide international acclaim for the first time. With their "Wiener Schmäh" (i.e. Puschnig’s lampoons), they become known in the European jazz scene as an insider’s tip. Scenic production, "Johnny tritt ab", for the Donaueschingen Musiktage (with Maggie Nichols, Karin Krog, Lauren Newton, Jon Surman & Harry Pepl). VAO produces the U&E Third Dream festival in Vienna, for which 10 Austrian jazz band arrange compositions by contemporary Austrian composers.
Soixante-dix ans après la musique sérielle, l’Ecole de Vienne fait de nouveau des siennes. (Libération, Paris)
Favorite subject of discussion: The world



AMR, Geneva

From no time to rag time
The VAO plays little-known jazz tunes by Anthony Braxton, Lennie Tristano, Hans Koller, Scott Joplin, Booker Little, James Blood Ulmer, Fritz Power and others. 40 concerts in seven countries. Festival performances include Willisau, Saalfelden, Leipzig, Nancy, Milan, Balve. Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the year of the German record critics) for "Concerto Piccolo". VAO wins first jazz poll (ranks as No. 1 European Big Band at the Warsaw Jazz Forum).
"Vienna Art Orchestra", a fantastic sound factory. (Spectateur, Brussles)
Favorite subject of discussion: Exceeding all limits



The minimalsim of Erik Satie
The horns interpret the music of Erik Satie and receive invitations from numerous classical festivals. Finland tour and an invitation to play mixed program at the Paris Jazz Festival. Rüegg forms the Vienna Art Choir (11 members of the Viennese Schönberg Choir; plus Puschnig, Radovan, L. Newton and George Lewis). Commissioned by Vienna’s Serapion Theater, VAO plays its own version of Richard Wagner’s "Götterdämmerung". Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik and Prix jazz d’avantgarde (Paris) for "Suite for the Green Eighties".
Everyone today should play Satie the way the Vienna Art Orchestra does. (Frankfurter Allgemeine)
Favorite subject of discussion: Philosophy



Live in the USA

Perpetuum mobile
USA tour (16 concerts throughout N. America, in such places as the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, and in New York City’s Public Theater. (Present in the audience are Gil Evans and Benny Golson). Further concerts in India and Bangkok (sessions with the musicians of the Royal Big Band of King Bhumipol Adolaydei). Puschnig, Schabata, Newton and rüegg develop a concept with the Austrian poet Ernst Jand1 in an effort to fuse open music with onomatopoetic "Jandl-artistry" This joint project lasts until 1991 and results in three CDs: "bist eulen?". "vom vom zum zum" and "lieber ein saxophon" (all by Extraplatte): In 1987, in collaboration with Uli Scherer, the concept is expanded. Concert series based on the program "The Minimalism of Erik Satie". The VAO ranks #1 in the Down Beat Poll (cat. TWDR)
What was most impressive in a set that adamantly refused to bore was the way it amplified orthodox big band techniques to accommodate modernist impulses. (Village Voice, New York)
Favorite subject of discussion: Women



Nightride of a loney saxophonplayer
The band, on an all-time high, plays 77 concerts in four months in 17 countries [Festivals: Montreux (TV), Athens, Genova, Ljubljana, Moers, Groningen, Munster, East Berlin (TV), Tarbes, Luxembourg. Molde (TV), Bratislava, Leverkusen, Bregenz...] but this strenuous pace takes its toll on band members and tensions break out. Hannes Kottek plays lead trumpet for the first time. VAO becomes an official banner group for Austrian culture and ranks number one in nearly all jazz polls. "Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik" for "bist eulen?". The VAO switches to Moers Music (unfortunately).
Virtuoso, fantasy-endowed improvisers-and part clown, too. (Tagesanzeiger,Zürich)
Favorite subject of discussion: Money



Uli Scherer, Lauren Newton, Ernst Jandl, Wolfgang Puschnig

Two little animals
Two European tours. Jazz festivals in Maputo, Mozambique and San Sebastian. In Wels, the VAO musicians appear in all of their various groupings for "An Evening with 7 x Art". Quarterly prize of the German record critics (Vierteljahres-preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik) for "Perpetuum Mobile" Performances of "The Minimalism of Erik Satie" in Milano, Firenze and at the Brucknerhaus, Linz. The Swiss Swing project (art choir plus orchestra) premieres at the Willisau Jazz Festival.
VAO’s dazzling mutations spare the listener the rigid formulas most bands live by.
(Down Beat, Chicago)
Favorite subject of discussion: Repetition



Wiener Festwochen, SENS

Inside out
"Sens", the multimedia revue commissioned for the Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen) draws an audience of 5.000. Featured, among others, are Rudi Berger, Dominique Pifarely (violin), Gerard Jamart (glass organ) and the Vienna Art Choir (televised). European tour, including performances at the Madrid Jazz Festival, the Europalia in Brussels and the Philharmonic in Cologne. Performances of "The Minimalism of Erik Satie" at festivals in Palermo and Hamburg. The Swiss Swing Choir performs at festivals in Paris and Moers.
We owe thanks to the Viennese for their courage and for a couple splendid rays at hope in the correspondence between seeing and hearing. (Die Zeit)
Favorite subject of discussion: Self determination vs.outside intervention



Wolfgang Puschnig & Harry Sokal

Blues for Brahms
Participation in "Wrap Around the World," Nam June Paik’s TV special for Olympics. Stage music for George Tabori’s "Frauen, Krieg, Lustspiel". VAO produces "Jandl Total" in the Vienna Schauspielhaus. Lisbon Jazz Festival. European tour, including performances in Zagreb, Gerona, Barcelona. Paris, Cologne (TV) and Vienna (TV). Co Streiff plays in the place ofnightride of a lonely saxophone player Wolfgang Puschnig. The orchestra signs a three-year contract with Polygram. After reaping much praise on the occasion of their 10th anniversary and enjoying 10 years of largely positive commentary by the press, the VAO finds its critics splitting into two camps, pro and contra.
astarà decir que la VAO es una big band de auténtico jazz contemporáneo, una musica libre, intuitiva e improvisada que desconoce las barreras estillsticas. (El Pais, Madrid)
Favorite subject of discussion: Alcohol


Fe & Males, live in Vienna

Innocence of clichés
VAO goes on tour to Jerusalem and to festivals in Roma, Catania, Paris, Willisau, Le Mans, Amiens and Angoulême with two dif- ferent programs: " Innocence of Clichés" and "Fe & Males", a staged musical composition in which seven female instrumentalists have encounters with seven male musicians (based on the Seven Tales of the Seven Princesses by the Persian poet Nizami. Musicians include Marilyn Mazur, Hélène Labarrière, Ingrid Jensen and Gabriele Rosenberg). For George Tabori’s "Kreis" the VAO arranges themes from Verdi for "Lovers and Lunatics". After the second tour the VAO loses its regular membership, which for the past 11 years had hardly changed long-standing sucess formula seems to be showing signs of wear.
There’s nothing wrong, after all, if old friends feel a touch of melancholy when they hear these lively they cite themselves and still know so little about the explosive style-busting power that characterizes this orchestra. Even after twelve years. (Die Welt, Hamburg)
Favorite subject of discussion: Divorce

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