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39th Dresden Music Festival 2016 – Time for a magical intellectual discourse

Time for a magical intellectual discourse

39th Dresden Music Festival from 5 May to 5 June 2016

DRESDEN/GERMANY: For its 39th festival programme, the Dresden Music Festival has taken as its motto “Time”, whose various facets will be examined from 5 May to 5 June 2016 in 52 concerts given by some of the most renowned figures in the international classical music scene.

They will include “magical artists who are masters in playing with the sense of time,” promises director Jan Vogler

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. Here, he means musicians such as Leonidas Kavakos, David Garrett, Daniel Hope, Kristine Opolais, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Daniil Trifonov, Igor Levit, Dorothee Oberlinger, Arabella Steinbacher, Till Brönner and Sergei Nakariakov, to mention just some of the virtuoso performers who have been invited.

Dresden Music Festival, logo.

Dresden Music Festival, logo.

“A good concert always also provides us with a magical intellectual discourse between the past and the future,” festival director Jan Vogler says of the motto for the 39th Dresden Music Festival. And such a discourse seems particularly vital at the moment, in view of current problems such as xenophobia, hostility towards refugees and resurgent racism. Vogler, a committed humanist, is convinced that the 2016 festival can make a significant contribution here: “Music always has a strong connective effect. Confucius said that music can prevent wars and guarantee peace in society. I think society still very much underestimates what music can achieve.”


Israel is a central focus of this year’s program, both in the context of musical history and as a clear statement by the organiser celebrating multiculturalism and diversity of religion – as “a living symbol for open-mindedness and mutual understanding,” according to Andreas Rieger from the Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden, the main sponsor of the festival.

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under its just 34-year-old conductor Omer Meir Wellber has been appointed as orchestra-in-residence for 2016. Wellber is considered to be one of his country’s greatest conducting talents. The Jerusalem Quartet is also among the ensembles that have been invited. It will play a complete Shostakovich program (9.5.) that includes the Russian composer’s String Quartet No. 8, a work that was written near Dresden in 1960 under the impression left by the bombed-out city and is dedicated to the victims of war and fascism. In addition, the New Jewish Chamber Philharmonic will perform works by composers who were proscribed by the Nazis. Its concert in the New Synagogue (29.5.) will include the Dresden première of the viola concerto by Leo Smit. This program focus will be supplemented by the travelling exhibition “Israelis & Germans”, organised by the German-Israeli Association (DIG) to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which will be on display in Dresden during the weeks of the festival.

At first, however, the festival’s motto will be explored in the opening concert (5.5.) from a rather abstract perspective: for the first time, the event will take the form of a “Wandelkonzert”, where the audience strolls from one performance to another, with listeners invited to experience the diverse temporal nature of music both acoustically and spatially during this “Long Night of Music” in the German Hygiene Museum. The evening will be kicked off with a program by the Michael Nyman Band, in which the English minimal-music pioneer will première a work by himself that was commissioned by the Music Festival. From 9 pm, works by composers ranging from J.S. Bach, John Cage and Morton Feldmann to Erik Satie and his “Vexations”, performed by alternating pianists in seemingly endless sequence until the following morning at 11 am, will allow individual audience members to engage subjectively with the phenomenon time.


Two programmes in the series “Classical Beats” also promise to take listeners on exceptional musical journeys through time to the present day. The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble (7.5.) will perform electronic music on classical instruments, and the ECHO-Klassik-winning band Spark (27.5.) will be presenting its unique mixture of post-classical, minimal and avant-garde music under the title “Time and Again”. Both concerts will be followed by a party, replete with a DJ.

Other young artists are also traditionally given the chance to perform in Dresden. This year, they will include students from the legendary Curtis Institute (24.5
. + 25.5., playing Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”, among other things) and prizewinners from the Tchaikovsky Competition (26.5.), as well as amateur musicians of all ages in the programme “Musical City” (28.5.) and the traditional sing-along concert (4.6.), which for the first time will be taking place in conjunction with the “German Evangelical Trombone Day”

One of the most successful break-dancers of the international scene, Yaman Okur, will also be present in Dresden. This Turkish artist, who has been engaged several times as a dancer by pop icon Madonna, has created a choreography to Joseph Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation” (2.6.), which will be performed in the Kreuzkirche under the baton of Hans-Christoph Rademann. The orchestra will be the Dresden Festival Orchestra, an ensemble consisting of the best musicians in the field of historical performance practice that is put together specially every year. It will also be performing under Ivor Bolton at the closing concert (5.6.), whose programme will include, along with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, the Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in A minor op
. 129 by Robert Schumann, with Jan Vogler as soloist. The day before, the virtuoso cellist will speak about this Romantic work in a workshop lecture concert (4.6. 5 pm), after a quartet of critics headed by Dr. Eleonore Büning has taken a close look at the piece as performed in different recordings (4.6. 3 pm) As an exciting plus, the festival director can already be heard with the same concerto at the festival two weeks earlier, this time with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui, which will also be giving the first performance of a new work by Chen Zhangyi on the same evening (23.5.).

Jan Vogler has been able to engage other prestigious ensembles for the 2016 Dresden Music Festival such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons (6.5), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Semyon Bychkov (13.5) and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck (23.5), thus further underlining the event’s international character. For, as he says, now more than ever, it is time to show “that this cultural exchange is fun, that things are poorer without it. We must send progressive signals from Dresden promoting a modern, innovative musical landscape elsewhere as well, and that is what the Music Festival is trying to do.

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Bayerisches Staatsoper, München


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