New Big Band leader Alexander Eissele: Swing, exactly!

2020-11-09 The classical clarinettist and Big Band leader wants to work on details with the ensemble, but also to promote musical freedom. Eissele has been playing with the Lüneburger Symphoniker since 1999, toured with Claudio Abbado among others and has a great role model.

The new Big Band leader: Alexander Eissele. ©Leuphana/Marvin Sokolis
"I get the accuracy from the orchestra, the musical freedom from jazz."

When he first heard records by Hugo Strasser, Alexander Eissele was not yet ten years old. His father brought home recordings of the swing greats of the time. But none fascinated the boy as much as the clarinettist Hugo Strasser. The legendary jazz musician was one of the most important band leaders in Germany and was considered a virtuoso instrumentalist. He inspired the then nine-year-old Alexander to learn the clarinet. The boy not only liked the instrument, he also had talent. His music teacher encouraged him and as a teenager Eissele also learned saxophone. With both instruments the musician always moved between jazz and classical music. He wants to give the members of the Leuphana Big Band the best of both: "I get the accuracy from the orchestra, the musical freedom from jazz", explains Eissele. 

Since 1999 he has been deputy principal clarinettist with a commitment to the bass clarinet with the Lüneburger Symphoniker. Eissele studied clarinet at the Musikhochschule Freiburg i. Br. and Frankfurt and at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst Frankfurt a.M. with artistic as well as pedagogical orientation. He always looked for teachers who would strengthen his weaknesses. With the Leuphana Big Band he now listens carefully himself. The musician plans joint rehearsal weekends with expert workshops to improve the sound of the individual movement groups: "Corona doesn't allow us to practice for a concert. This gives us the opportunity to work more on the finer points". Four pieces from Swing to Funk are currently on the programme. Eissele wants to break down "unnatural hierarchies": "I want to convince through competence and take everyone with me. The musicians should set themselves free." A wrong note is not a bad thing: "Rehearsing means trying." But at the same time it is also "meticulous". 

For Alexander Eissele, passion and ambition belong together. In his mid-20s he was accepted into the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and went on a summer tour with the star conductor Claudio Abbado. "We performed Schönberg's Gurrelieder at the Felsenreitschule Salzburg, in Edinburgh or MUK Lübeck. I played for my life every evening," remembers Alexander Eissele. He also played with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and Bayerische Orchesterakademie and was engaged at the opera houses in Darmstadt and Cologne. In addition to his work with the Lüneburger Symphoniker, Alexander Eissele was a lecturer at the Landesjugendorchester Baden-Württemberg. He also leads the Lumberjack Big Band in his home town of Göppingen. "Classical music or jazz? I enjoy playing both", says Eissele. But in 2013 he experienced something that only swing can offer him: Hugo Strasser was a guest soloist in the Lumberjack Big Band and Eissele conducted: "My idol stood right next to me on stage and we made music together. That was a very special moment."

Further Information

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