Jan 07, 2021

5 Questions for Benedikt ter Braak Casio Celviano Winner

Benedikt ter Braak got selected for one of 2020s highlight open calls on gigmit: Neue Meister Sessions – powered by Casio. He got to play the Casio Celviano piano for a professional video recorded session by Bearfilm at Kaos Club Berlin. We asked him five questions about his music, his experience during the recording and what his advice for other artists.

Please tell us about your music project. Who is Benedikt ter Braak?

I am a Pianist from Duisburg, Germany. Growing up with classical music made me fall in love with the genre from a very early age. Since then, my ambition to study music was already kind of imprinted into my living and thinking. Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, Scriabin, Ligeti, Brahms – they were part of my daily diet. When I got older, I widened my view of the musical world and became curious about many different styles of music. I wanted to learn and to understand it all. Not just the theory and the practical aspects, but also the mindset behind genres like Jazz, Pop, Rock, Folk, Contemporary Music and Electronica. Behind a musical genre, there is always a way of life and a key message behind what is expressed through this particular style of music.

Since I finished my masters degree as a classical pianist, I had a long episode of searching. I wanted to create something, have a voice in the musical world, one that is not celebrating exclusivity, but asking questions of how to reach out to different ways of thinking, living and hearing music beyond conventions and stereotypes. I like to celebrate freedom not as „freedom of“ (conventions, stereotypes, structure, etc.), but “freedom to“.

My music is about the freedom to cross lines, freedom to express an individual point of view without the burden of having to fulfill a specific expectation. There, I found my own voice and a place where I can combine my love for classical music, electronics and Avant Garde. 


As a live act from the neo classical genre how did you feel about getting the opportunity to perform on the Celviano piano?

Well, at first I think every Pianist is rather puristic when choosing a piano for the stage. Playing on a stage piano instead of a grand piano is a little torturous, since the feeling of playing on plastic never really goes away. So, naturally, I was skeptical. I researched the hybrid technology that is behind the Celviano and was impressed by the amount of effort that has been put into it. In the end, I was utterly intrigued by the range of colours that can be produced on this instrument. The hammer technique built inside gives you a very realistic feeling of control. 

Benedikt ter Braak Live
Benedikt ter Braak Live @ Neue Meister Sessions Foto credit: Chux On Tour Photography

How was the situation for you being at a video set and did you learn anything new from this experience?

I had some livestream experiences, but this one was quite different because of the very close cameras and the big team around me. The many cameras first made me feel a little awkward. Like when you know there is a mosquito somewhere nearby, so you just cannot relax. But this feeling faded quickly and in the end it was as close to a „real“ concert as it could be. I can’t really say if I learned something new. Sadly, the last time playing a concert in front of an audience is quite a long time ago. I think I relearned things that I almost forgot: how nice it feels to actually give a concert before a crowd and not into a big black void.


What would you recommend to fellow artists on gigmit, especially from the neo classical genre, in light of the current pandemic?

To be honest, I don’t feel like being in an advice-giving position, since the present still does not feel neither safe nor compelling. I just hope that there is still a thriving culture in 2022. Before that, I think everything is unstable and impossible to predict. The only advice I deem important at this point is that we all should keep talking to each other about the vision of our cultural life after this pandemic. Artists, cultural institutions and politics will all play a part in this.


Do you have any new music coming out and who should we listen to in the New Year?

I certainly hope to publish in 2021 all my music written during two lockdowns and months of social distancing. What we listen to, I would say, does not matter – whatever the taste. But we should listen to it live at a concert hall, at festivals, in theaters and we should do it many, many times.


Neue Meister Sessions: Benedikt ter Braak – Appassionata Electronica