Christian Muthspiel & Orjazztra Vienna

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July 2020

Large jazz ensembles have become a rarity. One of the consequences of the decline in wages in the last decade has been the  loss of a culture that has shaped the history of one of the greatest musical inventions of the 20th century: From Duke Ellington to Carla Bley, from the Sun Ra Arkestra to the Vienna Art Orchestra, large bands have always been part of the canon of improvised music. With the 18-piece Orjazztra Vienna, I am now – in defiance of the current trend – fulfilling the dream of leading my own jazz orchestra; a dream that I have nurtured since leaving the Vienna Art Orchestra in 2004. Austria and Vienna currently have an incredibly densely populated scene of great young musicians who play in their numerous own bands, who are curious, cosmopolitan and keen to experiment. Without exception, they have a good musical education and play at the highest technical level. For the most part the Orjazztra consists of young people from this local scene. With its unusual line -up - a double rhythm section (two basses, two drums), piano, a six-piece saxophone/ clarinet section, three trumpets, two trombones and a tuba – it is better described as a contemporary jazz orchestra than a big band. After 35 years as composer, conductor and instrumentalist, forever wearing several hats or changing them regularly – from leading numerous jazz bands to conducting a Mahler symphony, from composing for symphony orchestras to producing all signature tunes for the Austrian  radio station Ö1 – the Orjazztra will be my musical focus for the next few years and the greatest possible convergence of the sum of these experiences: An orchestral approach to contemporary jazz with complex scores that also give each soloist due improvisational freedom, marked by a band sound that takes its cue from the virtues of classical orchestral playing band, in this case, deliberately free of electronics.

Program and cast

Orjazztra Vienna

Composition & Conductor: Christian Muthspiel

Festspielhaus Erl



Designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Vienna, the extraordinary structure boasts 862 seats (130 of which are flexible seats near the orchestra) and the world’s largest orchestra pit (160-sq meters). The total useable surface is 7,000-square meter. General contractor was STRABAG, project manager Ing. Georg Höger.


The new Festspielhaus respects and compliments the architecture of the old Passionsspielhaus and its natural surroundings in a unique way: in the summer, when the Tyrolean Festival Erl or the Passion Plays take place at the white Passionsspielhaus, the dark Festspielhaus will blend with the dark forest, allowing the Passionsspielhaus to be dominant. In the winter it is the other way round: while the white Passionsspielhaus will fade into the surroundings, the dark Festspielhaus will stand out against the white landscape.


The Festspielhaus offers the modern infrastructure that has been sorely missing at the Passionsspielhaus, including a foyer with cloakroom, modern stage machinery, several rehearsal rooms and plenty of space for administrative offices. The Festspielhaus provides the Tyrolean Festival Erl with the basic conditions it needs to ensure the Festival’s success will continue into the future.




The Passionsspielhaus in Erl, built between 1957 and 159 on plans by architect Robert Schuller, is an architectural and acoustic masterpiece. The structure blends with its surroundings and is a visual extension of the adjoining mountains.
Thanks to its striking shape the Passionspielhaus instantly became Erl’s greatest landmark. Austria’s largest orchestra theater accommodates up to 1500 visitors. The 25-meter wide stage is tiered and provides a spectacular backdrop for the 500 passion play actors as well as the orchestra of the Tyrolean Festival Erl, which performs onstage as there is no orchestra pit. 


A café serving snacks and beverages was added in 1997 and an Art Room for 150 visitors was opened in 2003.  
When the Festspielhaus was renovated between October 2006 and April 2007 all sanitary facilities were upgraded; an “orchestra pit” with scissor lift and a substructure for the main stage were added; the auditorium got equipped with a deaf loop system and a new floor; the catwalk, the exterior design, the cellar beneath the donkey ramp, the refreshment stand, all electrical installations and the ventilation system were replaced; and the wardrobe and the stairway renovated.  






Germany, Eastern Austria
A8 Munich-Salzburg, Autobahndreieck Inntal, A 93, Motorway exit Nussdorf/Brannenburg or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf

Italy, Switzerland, Western Austria
Inntalautobahn A 12, motorway exit Kufstein Nord or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf; from Italy: after Brenner Pass take A 13 and A 12 (approx. 1 h 20 min to Erl); from the Swiss border it’s a 3 hour drive to Erl; the entire journey is on motorways and expressways.

In Austria, the use of motorways and expressways is subject to payment of a toll.

Munich – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Salzburg – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Innsbruck – Erl approx. 45 hour by car



All long distance and regional trains stop in Kufstein. 




Innsbruck (90 km),
Salzburg (90 km),
München (110 km).


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