Any portrait of Matthias Arter reflects the great range of his activities. He is a soloist, a composer, an ensemble member and an orchestral musician, as well as a university lecturer and project manager. Each of these aspects has helped form his artistic personality. He grew up and studied in Zurich (with Peter Fuchs and Thomas Indermühle), continued his studies with Heinz Holliger (Freiburg im Breisgau) and was encouraged by such well-known artists in the world of Early Music as Johann Sonnleitner, Matthias Weilenmann and Pedro Memelsdorff. His work with his own ensembles (Octomania, Arion Quintet, æquatuor) has accompanied him over many years, and has certainly rubbed off.
Regular rehearsals with various pianists, with the harpist Priska Zaugg and the guitar and theorbo player Markus Hochuli demonstrate his dealings with a repertoire that extends from the Renaissance to the newest music. One speciality remains his solo programmes, ones which explore the limits of his chosen instruments. Three CD recordings document this work: ‘Oboe solo’, ‘Oboe plus’ and ‘Couleurs’. As for his own instruments: these are members of the oboe family, and range from the oboe musette to the bass oboe, but he also uses a melodica and sometimes an instrument that he developed with the sculptor Vincenzo Baviera, the zyklophon.
Projects initiated and led by Matthias Arter are often interdisciplinary, something which never means any ragbag collection of various forms of art. The opposite is the case: every element and each artist involved is there to exact an influence and leave their mark on the other disciplines. Things reach a new level of excitement where other cultures are encountered. Numerous concert tours and intense contacts with musicians mainly from the Caucasus or the former Yugoslavia have inculcated an innate understanding of that which at first glance is foreign or alien. And many a friendship thus arising has led to artistic partnerships that transcend cultural and political borders. This intercultural work started with Boris Previšic and is now housed under the single roof of a society with charitable status: ‘pre-art’.
Performances of his works have been given at the Days for New Music Zurich, at the Music Podium of the City of Zurich as well as at other festivals in Switzerland, Germany, Georgia, Armenia, Canada and Albania. Matthias Arter is also active as a conductor and teaches oboe, chamber music and improvisation at the Bern University of the Arts as well as being solo oboe in the Basel Chamber Orchestra and the Collegium Novum Zürich. He was appointed President of the Swiss Society of Performing Artists in 2007 and is a member of the Swiss Association of Composers.