The tones of the present meet the sounds of tradition – the foundation Klangwelt Toggenburg is helping people experience the region via a diverse soundscape. As chair of the foundation’s board of trustees and mayor of Lichtensteig, Mathias Müller is committed to ensuring that the region’s cultural, social and economic spheres all work together effectively. Klangwelt Toggenburg is hoping to have a national impact with its Klanghaus, or ‘House of Sound’.
What motivated you to get involved with the foundation?
The project has a very strong regional focus: it’s brimming with potential that we can tap into to develop our region further.
How did the project come about?
The soundscape was the brainchild of Peter Roth. He’s a musician and composer who moved to Toggenburg and took up a position conducting a choir here. He picked up on the region’s rich diversity immediately. It’s a place where tradition is part of everyday life, and this led him to launch all kinds of projects. They included the creation of the Klangweg sound trail, the Klangfestival celebration of sound, the sound-making workshop dubbed the ‘Klangschmiede’ and the sound courses under the brand ‘Klangwelt Toggenburg’, all of which are organised within their own individual structures or clubs.
Do you need a well-known figure to launch a project of this nature?
Having a personal connection to Peter Roth was hugely important.
How important is it that the entire team identify with the project on a personal level?
No matter what the organisation, it’s helpful when the people involved believe in the idea and identify with it. That said, we were aware that specialist knowledge is just as important. We’ve been taking an increasingly professional approach to fundraising, for instance, and in terms of putting together the board of trustees, skills play a key role.
Features of the soundscape:
Klanghaus: a building as a body of sound that visitors can walk through, offering rooms for vocalists and instrumentalists. Klangfestival: a festival with concerts and workshops. Sound course: during courses and training sessions, attendees can immerse themselves in such topics as traditional or contemporary sounds. Klangschmiede: create a singing bowl from a piece of iron. Klangweg: discover 27 sound installations on your walk.
When did the individual projects turn into a foundation?
Aside from the funding association, the individual organisations for each project were brought together to form a foundation in 2015.
What are the advantages of a foundation?
Because we are a foundation, our organisation’s charitable status and purpose are already defined. For our work, it is important that we can show we’re doing something for society at large. We are monitored by the Supervisory Authority for Foundations, which is important to our donors and funders. Plus, our foundation status enables us to meet our objectives with a good deal of agility.
On that subject: your objective was to revitalise the cultural, social and economic life of Eastern Switzerland. How important is it that these elements are linked?
This is the core topic that we want to fully develop as part of our work: the region’s sound culture. It’s anchored in tradition and is part of daily life in the region, which is an exciting opportunity in terms of developing tourism. We can help all kinds of people to access the soundscape. The present crisis in particular has shown that people are looking for stability in our increasingly fast-paced, uncertain world. People are returning to tradition and to nature. Here, we can offer them both in the shape of our alpine culture, with yodelling and our connection to the natural world. An integrated approach is a key part of this, pairing these traditions with up-to-date topics.
Where are you at with the next project, the Klanghaus?
The local population have approved the project, so we’ve laid the foundations, as it were. The Klanghaus on Schwendisee lake will offer space for musicians, companies and anyone interested in the topic of sound. In-depth planning is underway at present, with the canton acting as the principal. We’re also developing a catering concept, a range of accommodation to go with it, and a variety of sound-related activities on the campus that is being built around the Klanghaus. If all goes to plan, it’ll open in 2024.
The foundation can’t get a project of this size up and running by itself.
We need broad-based support. We’re working with other foundations alongside the canton, including larger organisations. The Klanghaus will show off Klangwelt Toggenburg on a national stage.