Due to the huge preparations for the 25th anniversary tour in 2002 the VAO performs only one concert in Porto (Portugal) with the program Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love. In August the recording of the ART&FUN CD is made in Vienna.

This music has substance. In performing it, the band reflects joy. Viva Europa! (JazzTimes)

Favorite subject of discussion: how to play live in the studio.



For years now I‘ve been thinking of composing a set of three thematically-related programs for the Vienna Art Orchestra. Each of these should also be able to stand alone as an independent program. In March 2005, after I had finally decided on the right presentation, I started by doing a lot of research and reading, not fully realizing what I was getting myself into. The intensive work process pushed everyone to the limit, particularly the rehearsals and recording sessions of summer 2006. It extended over a period of 20 months, ending in mid-October 2006. Sit back and enjoy. There’s plenty to discover!

The first program, American Dreams - Portraits of 13 American Women, stands for 100 years of the USA -- the “New World“ -- as represented by some of the greatest American film divas of the first half of the 20th century. Each of these icons, who together have written film history, will lend her name to one of the pieces, which attempt to capture the essence and effect of these women in music. Aesthetically, they will be presented in true American style, that is to say by contemporary big band jazz.

In the second program, European Visionaries - Portraits of 13 European Men, Europe -- or the “Old World“ -- is symbolized by Thinking; in other words by a selection of visionaries who have contributed substantially to the progress of civilization over the last 1000 years. Each of these pieces is named after one of these geniuses, whom I have tried to represent abstractly in music as faithfully as possible by reducing them to symbols (indicated in the subtitles) which serve as the basis for the individual compositions. This program is oriented around the outstanding achievements in European music and therefore the sound of the VAO is more orchestral or symphonic than usual. The themes are introduced in 13 miniatures, or preludes, played by classical music duos.

The third program, Visionaries & Dreams - Portraits of 13 Couples, presents 13 fictional encounters inspired by actual quotations among other things. Musically, each piece contains two separate compositions which are juxtaposed to create a synthesis of the first two programs. The USA and Europe are thus brought together to commingle in the music, producing a mixture of these two worlds: of sensuality and abstraction; of American and European aesthetics; of American and European jazz. In these times, when Europeans and Americans are increasingly unable or unwilling to understand each other, when the gap seems to be growing ever wider, the trilogy “3“ strives to add a conciliatory note to promote understanding between these two cultures which are so much the same and yet so different.
Note: “Atheists“ may feel free to view this whole series simply as a sophisticated, multi-layered musical game.

Program Folder


Art & Fun

‚Äč25th anniversary tour: VAO performs during three tours (spring, summer & fall) the new program ART&FUN.25, which is played with a twenty-member international line-up including 2 rhythm sections. A Centenary Journey 1900-2000 as well as Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love are also played on tour. The orchestra plays 59 concerts in 14 different countries (including Canada). Appearances at North Sea Festival, Umbria Jazz, Vancouver Jazzfestival, Montréal Jazz, Nattjazz Festival, Paris Jazzfestival, Jazz Sous les Pommiers, Moers Festival, Moscow Festival, Vilnius Mama Jazzfestival, Jazzfestival Schaffhausen among others.  Travel distance goes up to 59.400 km during the three tours.
The ART&FUN CD is released by EMARCY/Universal Music. The spanish magazine Cuadernos de Jazz selects the Art&Fun recording as the best of the year 2002. Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Prize of the year of the German record critics) for "A Centenary Journey 1900-2000".

Montreal Jazzfestival... on stage was Austria’s Vienna Art Orchestra, mathias rüegg’s zany, unconventional big band that uses almost every instrument imaginable (including a didgeridoo ... what kind of big band uses a didgeridoo?), to create a hilarious, sometimes swinging, sometimes way out sonic palette. The show was spectacular. (Down Beat)

Favorite subject of discussion: dynamics.

Program Folder