An unforgettable event took place in May 2022 in the beautiful venues of the time-honored Casino Bern in Switzerland. In the unique concert format “ÜBER DS CHRÜZ” (see below), Swiss blues singer Philipp Fankhauser, composer Sebastian Schwab and conductor Wayne Marshall presented, together with the Bern Symphony Orchestra, the “Ode to Josef Ganz – the forgotten Jewish engineer behind Hitler’s Volkswagen”. The concert audience, my guests and I witnessed a meaningful musical masterpiece, the result of an unprecedented collaboration; a world premiere, a work that made history at this once-in-a-lifetime event like I never dreamed possible.

The ode was created on the initiative of Philipp Fankhauser, who came across the documentary “Ganz – How I lost my Beetle” by Suzanne Raes at the end of 2020. Ganz’s destiny shook him deeply. As a descendant of a Jewish grandfather, he has a close connection to the Jewish history. Moreover, he knows similar injustices from the blues where composers were deprived of the rights to their works. His sense of justice led Fankhauser to embark on this project. 

Philipp Fankhauser with his band, the Bern Symphony Orchestra and conductor Wayne Marshall

The result was an emotionally charged work that let the audiences experience firsthand the hope, grief and pain that Josef Ganz must have experienced in the 1930s. Schwab’s composition, played by the Bern Symphony Orchestra, underscored and accompanied the text read by Fankhauser. It enlivened the lyrics, based on texts by Suzanne Raes and Paul Schilperoord, in an impressive way and Wayne Marshall was in his element, as he had been throughout the evening.

I will never forget this event. It was the culmination, the highlight of everything that had happened up to that point around the reappraisal of Josef Ganz’s fate. I would like to thank all those involved who made this possible from the bottom of my heart: the biographer Paul Schilperoord, the film director Suzanne Raes and all those involved in the documentary film, Nik Leuenberger from Casino Bern and, of course, Philipp Fankhauser, Sebastian Schwab and Wayne Marshall.

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Once a year, the Bern Symphony Orchestra (BSO) teams up with the Casino Bern to create a platform for a superlative encounter: A major player in pop / jazz / blues meets the BSO and shares the stage with it. In this way, something completely new is created. This format is called “Über ds Chrüz“ in Swiss German.
After the huge success of the first edition, the success story of this concert format was continued this season. This year’s guests were conductor Wayne Marshall and blues singer and songwriter Philipp Fankhauser, who is known far beyond Switzerland’s borders. Philipp Fankhauser is currently celebrating great success with his new album “Heebie Jeebies”.With Wayne Marshall – since 2014.2015 chief conductor of the wdr Funkhausorchester, organist and jazz musician – a renowned artist deeply rooted in the blues stepped to the conductor’s podium.
On the two concert evenings on 2022 May 5 and 6, the BSO played two works from the symphonic repertoire and, together with Philipp Fankhauser, performed a selection of his songs in arrangements by the young conductor and composer Sebastian Schwab. The finale was a grand surprise finale composed by Schwab and Fankhauser especially for the evening, combining the best of both worlds : the composition “Ode to Josef Ganz”. 

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