ART SONG and ART SONG CREATION – Michael Gees and Dagmar Boecker (Cologne University of Music) 18.-22.10.2017

“Throughout the evening Gees played as if he had composed the pieces himself and was therefore extremely vigilant to make sure the performance was carried out according to his inner ear. His eyes were not those of an artist intent on reproduction, but  shone rather a lambent look of passion, just as one might imagine the composer as the creator.“
N. Campogrande

Michael Gees is a pianist, song creator, composer, improviser. The “Old Masters” often sound like an improvised dialogue with modernity. He is thus treading old new paths.

Michael Gees’ biography certainly justifies the term: exceptional. Few others can claim to have a career already behind them at the tender age of fifteen: Born in 1953 into a world of sound and music, both parents are singers, the piano is his favourite toy at age three. Formal piano lessons follow at age five, and the young musician subsequently goes on to win the Steinway Competition at age eight and receives a scholarship at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

The child prodigy is hailed as “Westphalian Mozart“, takes up studies at the conservatories in Detmold and Vienna and it seems as if he is fast on his way to become an internationally acclaimed pianist. Were it not for the gifted child’s longing to explore the world of sound on his own terms, to playfully experience his self like the great masters’ music, to invent their music all over again, note for note instead of limiting himself to a technical practice regimen. Michael Gees flees the pressure of a predetermined competitional career at the age of fifteen, leaves school, conservatory and home behind, supports himself through odd jobs, works as archeological assistant and, in the process, for the duration of two full years, becomes a sailor.

Chance leads him back to the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, where he resumes his compositional studies and eventually graduates. He now develops first rate pianistic chops on his own, composes a number of works, gains international renown as lied accompanist of extraordinary proportions with Christoph Prégardien and also appears in concerts globally; in Paris, London, New York and Tokio. All the while, he nurses and feeds his preference for combining the performance of music of past masters with living inspiration, thereby creating remarkable performances with his instrument.

In 1989, Gees founds “forum kunstvereint“ in his adopted hometown of Gelsenkirchen; the Consol Theater, also installed by him, opens its doors in 2001 on the confines of the former mining area Consolidation. There, music, dance and theatre projects take shape, where children, youths and adults alike are incited and encouraged to discover and realise their own artistic impulses. A steady number of CDs have been released from 1996 onward on forum kunstvereint, CPO and EMI, showcasing Michael Gees’ range.

Since 2008 Michael Gees is associated to the Netherlands label Challenge Classics. The 2009 release of the Schöne Müllerin with Christoph Prégardien won the MIDEM Classical Award and became Recording of the Year.

Michael Gees works on solo-recitals which enjoy breaking with tradition, on modernized lied-renditions, melodramas and stage music.

He has been teaching vocal improvisation and inventing songs at the Cologne University of Music since 2009.


Dagmar Boecker (Breath teaching, word/text, speech and voice coaching, posture and body movement) is a voice artist, singer and actor who is dedicated to the interaction of language and music. With a particular leaning toward improvisation, she is intent on fathoming out the space between speaking and singing. Since 2003 she has been teaching elocution, voice training and text interpretation for singers and musical theatre performers at the Cologne Conservatory for Music and Dance (Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln).
She developed “ElemenTonik” – the application of primary creative powers in connection with breathing and internal organs – a holistic, interdisciplinary concept for the natural and wholesome training of breath, voice, tone and movement in artistic disciplines.

Dagmar is a breath teacher, speech and voice coach (Schlaffhorst-Andersen Method®) who works with singers, instrumentalists, actors, dancers, musical conductors, choirs and choir leaders and music teachers as well as in the area of health for musicians and artists.

In 2016 she founded the Echt.Zeit.Spektrale (Realtime Spectral) “Studio for breath teaching, body awareness and vocal artistry” in Cologne.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017 until 2 pm

Closing concert:

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 at 11 am


Sunday, October 22nd, 2017


Words within Music – Words that need to be sung – The Art of Lied & Inventing Lieder/Songs

Enhancing and refining repertoire – setting verse to music

For professional and amateur singers and instrumentalists who want to vocally join in.


We are concerned with the interplay of the sung and spoken word. On our voyage, we discover how a poem becomes a song, and we set texts to music ourselves. The resulting story-telling power and the retroactive effect it has on the breath and voice are used as tools for the participants to extend and refine their repertoire.


We want to aid and abet singers and instrumentalists in also becoming involved in composition and to experience the finding of interpretation as a creative process of their own – so that they become part owners of a work.

Together with the participants, we take our own very personal approach to a song. We encourage invention through personal movement, a process that also makes existing works more satisfying.

Working together as teachers at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz (Conservatory for Music and Dance) in Cologne, we have developed a method of instruction that explicitly encourages creativity. Everyone is born with the ability to create music, and this music can be brought directly to life with the primary instrument of our own voice.

Enthusiasm and joy in musical empowerment are vital components for us in artistic and educational work.

Through the addition of free improvisation and vocal real-time composition we have opened up a source of inspiration for musical education, a long forgotten fountain of youth for musicians that is today experiencing a renaissance. Which is why we thank individuals such as Gabriela Montero, Hillary Hahn, Anna Lucia Richter und Julian Prégardien for their artistic uniqueness and, last but not least, for their love of the music of the moment – for Extempore.


You create text and tap into content, adopt meaning and find the inner source out of which spoken language strives to develop into song.
You understand and use lines of verse, verse forms and punctuation as stage directions. You examine speech-sound with regard to its power of creating atmosphere or directing form.
You develop a manner of speaking that is directed through content, meaning and the narrator’s point of view, and you experience vocal intonation as the basis for setting to music.
You discover musical parameters in language: changing tones, long and short values, proportions, tempi, pauses, phrasing, breathing and dynamics and, using the power of your own imagination, use all of these to transform a poem into music.
You look at traditional compositions in a new way and appraise them more consciously to find similar movement and proportionality.


The form of delivery is supported by a spoken presence. This leads to a toning on the level of body language, which results in an involuntary agreement in the working together of breath and voice function, musical modulation and access to articulation. Reflexive synchronicity comes into action. In the song, the story being told can be experienced as a mental support, from which we derive spontaneous coordination and an apoggio fed by “spirit of words”. Subtlety of functions and facets of expression are built forcefully and naturally.

In a musical duo, the careful exploration of text influences the synergy of the voice and instrument. The two partners work toward finding a mutual understanding of the work in question, find creative freedom, listen to each other more intensely, thus serving the idea of what the music is saying.

The result is a living song: the performers have let themselves be “taught” by the text and music and made the piece their own.

Up to five practice rooms with pianos are provided.

For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

The beautiful SG-IMFA villa on the bank of the Rhine river.
The beautiful SGIMFA villa on the bank of the Rhine river.

Students are hosted on a double-room basis in a beautiful, fully remodelled, 1892 villa on the bank of the Rhine river.

A kitchen for self-catering is provided!

For further impressions, please have a look online at our venue.

In order to be accepted, you must meet one of the following criteria:

(a) be recommended by Mr. Gees or Ms. Boecker or

(b) submit an unedited video audition (YouTube link) for review by Mr. Gees or Ms. Boecker.

In addition, you must complete and submit our application form and pay a €40 application fee.


€350,- or
€300,- for students

Housing (mandatory) in a shared double-room, incl. breakfast and usage of the facilities:


The application deadline is on September 1st, 2017!