As a soloist, composer, improviser as well as chamber and orchestral musician the multi-instrumentalist Christian Elin operates at the interconnection between classical music, jazz and world music. His entertainingly compered concerts are received with great enthusiasm by the public and the press.
Since his studies in Munich, Paris and Basel and a one-year scholarship from the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt, he has worked with many leading German orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the BR and HR symphony orchestras, the Bavarian State Orchestra, the Munich and Stuttgart orchestras Philharmonic, the Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, the Klangforum Heidelberg and the Ensemble Modern. He played under the direction of conductors such as Mariss Jansons, Sir Simon Rattle, Kirill Petrenko and Hans Zender.
Christian Elin has performed as a soloist with chamber orchestras such as the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra / Vilnius, the Orchestre de Chambre Nouvelle Europe / Paris, the Kammerphilharmonie Frankfurt and the Sinfonia Concertante Bremen. In 2015 he played his composition "WAVES" for soprano saxophone and string orchestra at the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg with the Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse.
Since 2014 he has had a close musical partnership with the pianist and composer Maruan Sakas in the "Duo Elin Sakas", with whom he pursues a lively international concert activity alongside his chamber music formations "Gambelin" - in the unique line-up of viola da gamba and saxophone - "Les anches variées" and "wind & keys".
A special characteristic of Christian Elins' musical work is his stylistic openness to early music, jazz, film music, Indian and Arabic music. It is particularly evident in his compositions, in which he fuses these influences with his classical background. Christian Elins’ discography currently comprises 12 CDs / DVDs; his own compositions are currently available on four CDs: “streaming” (2009) with solo works, about which the composer Erkki-Sven Tüür wrote: “Beautiful, atmospheric and poetic”, “Back to yourself” (2012), recorded as a duo with Anna D'Errico as well as "Some Kind of Blues" (2017) and "Mittsommernacht" (2020) in a duo with Maruan Sakas. For his music he was awarded the Bavarian Art Prize. From the jury's statement: "Christian Elin's improvisations on the soprano saxophone are outstanding, technically challenging but playfully easy, as well as his handling of influences from other cultures." The musicians with whom Christian Elin has worked so far include Paul Beynet, Daniel Elias Brenner, Anindo Chatterjee, Anna D'Errico, Rihards Dubra, Peter Eötvös, Pedro Estevan, Peter-Michael Hamel, Roger Hanschel, Christian Heiß, Kilian Herold, Friederike Heumann, Sabine Lutzenberger, Zubin Mehta, Katie Melua, Walter Nussbaum, Hans-Eberhard Roß, Enjott Schneider, Kadri-Ann Sumera, Franz Wittenbrink, and Ken Zuckerman. Christian Elin has been a member of GEMA since 2007 and a full member since 2018.
As a freelance music teacher, he teaches the subjects of saxophone, clarinet and piano and has been successfully managing himself in the music business for 15 years.
Your first musical experience?
When, as a little boy, I heard a French chanson on the radio for the first time. Maybe my first musical experience was even the French language.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
This wish arose during my high school days, at the age of 12, 13. My music teacher Gunther Ebner at the time was a very affectionate and inspiring character. Thanks to him, we students always had the opportunity to appear in the most varied of formations in school at theatre performances, summer festivals, etc. I can remember spending every free minute in the music room. I even received my first harmony and ear training lessons from him in the afternoon as an elective course student.
Your pieces often have very sensuous titles borrowed from images of nature - "Le vent de l'ouest", "Waves", "The scent of light". One of your compositions is entitled "The magic of the smell of wood". How did that come about?
In fact, I love to smell freshly cut wood, for example when I'm going for a walk. It probably goes back to my youth, when I was doing my apprenticeship as a cabinet maker and every day the most varied smells of wood passed me by. As a result of my work in my ensemble "Gambelin", which also consists of two wooden instruments, the question arose later whether it is possible to capture the smell of wood in music.
You are one of the few performers to play the bass clarinet as a solo instrument. What brought you to this special instrument?
Apart from the fact that it is made of wood and can sometimes even sound a little like a didgeridoo in the low notes, it was above all the warm, calming sound, the huge range of 4 octaves and the external aesthetics of this instrument that have attracted me. I like to be able to play both accompaniment and solo parts on the same instrument and to be able to conjure up completely different moods than with the saxophone thanks to the special sound.
A concert that stuck in your memory?
Avner Dorman: "Frozen in time", HR symphony orchestra with Martin Grubinger, drums. I was playing along myself, but at the same time I was also a listener in the 2nd movement of the concert, in which there is no saxophone. Martin Grubinger felt with every note of the orchestra in this movement ("Eurasia"), which sounds like a reminiscence of European music history, - especially when he was not playing himself - this presence he had was very inspiring for me.
When practicing: sustaining notes or finger exercises?
Your favourite warm-up before a concert?
Coming to rest, a quarter of an hour of silence.
You once said that as a musician on stage you have a responsibility to the audience because you have an intense relationship with them during the concert. How do you do that?
Before every concert, I try to open myself up completely to the music and the audience. I took a lot with me from Indian music philosophy. Ali Akbar Khan once said he was just the "vessel" through which the music gets into the hearts of the audience. Telling stories, especially with my own compositions, is also a very nice way for me to get close to my audience.
You are also a saxophone teacher. Have you ever had a student in whom you recognized or heard yourself?
Yes, a very long-time student. In her case I rediscovered a lot that is also important to me and belongs to my character: love of freedom, unconventionality, consistency with regard to my own path.
What do you say to people who ask you about your right job when you tell them that you are a musician?
I smile. It used to be different, however.
Which musician would you like to meet someday?
Claude Debussy; him improvising on the piano and me playing along. Afterwards lively conversations in French. I think he had a pretty good sense of humour.
An instrument that you would like to learn?
Alto flute. In fact, for some time now I've been delving into the world of very airy and breathy tones. And I am happy about the lightness that these sounds trigger in me.
Alexander Doll asked the questions.
sponsorship from NEUSTART KULTUR
for the ensemble GAMBELIN
2019 scholarship program "Concerto 21"
Alfred Töpfer Foundation
European music author's scholarship (GEMA)
Artist in residence festival 1001 notes / F
opera production of the year
"The Soldiers" / Bavarian State Opera
Bavarian Young Artist's Award
Art prize Gersthofen
scholarship European Centre for the Arts Dresden-Hellerau
scholarship International Ensemble Modern Academy
Yehudi Menuhin Live Music Now
first prize in Germany's Youth Music Competition "Young people make music"
Christian Elin plays Selmer .
Bass clarinet: Privilège
Soprano saxophone: Super Action 80 Serie III
Alto saxophone:: Super Action 80 Serie II
Tenor saxophone: Mark VI
Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele
Musica Antiqua Brügge
Konzertpodium Bad Homburg
Skulpturenmuseum im Hofberg Landshut
Théatre des Sablons Neuilly sur Seine/F
Jazz à cours et à jardins Lyon/F
Klavier plus Isny
Tage alter Musik Schwerin
Cité de la Musique Strasbourg/F
Festival 1001 Notes Limousin/F
Jazzfestival St. Wendel
Alte Oper Frankfurt
Moods Club Zürich/CH
Burgkultur St. Veit/A
Festival Badia Musica /I
Konzerte im Kallmann-Museum Ismaning
Musica viva München
„Jazz and more“ Bürgerhaus Pullach
„Jazz im Schloß“ Taufkirchen
Raum für Musik Zoglau