The WERGO CD “Earthing” with compositions by Clara Iannotta has been awarded the Quarterly German Record Critics’ Award, List of Best Recordings 4/2020, category “Contemporary Music“.
In the music of the Italian composer Clara Iannotta, conceptual thinking and technique are combined with imagery and subtlety. This is particularly evident in the four-string quartets, interpreted here by the phenomenal Jack Quartet. In the oldest from 2013, the natural sound remains untouched, and it is only enhanced by materials such as bird songs or styrofoam. Sometimes it shimmers sharply, sometimes it scratches darkly. This evocative, mysterious soundscape full of acoustic creatures is electronically amplified and distorted in the newer pieces. A sound full of elemental, deeply moving energy! (for the jury: Thomas Meyer)
On 18 October at the Donaueschingen Festival, Ensemble Musikfabrik and with conductor Mariano Chiacchiarini will give the world premiere of Gerald Barry’s No People. for 13 instruments. The work which has been commissioned by SWR, draws on Barry’s earlier work by the same name.
After the publication of this article, the Donaueschingen Festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we would like to invite you to learn about this interesting composition.
On 16 September, Ensemble Intercontemporain directed by Matthias Pintscher presents the world premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Flood at the Philharmonie de Paris. The work, which has been jointly commissioned by the ensemble and the Ojai Music Festival in California, was originally scheduled to premiere at the festival in June.
The Staatskappelle Berlin celebrates its impressive history as it marks its 450th anniversary this year. The earliest sources mentioning the orchestra date from 1570. On 11 September, the world premiere of a new work by Jörg Widmann commissioned specially for the occasion, Zeitensprünge (Leaps in time), will be given in a concert conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera House.
The title Zeitensprünge is a pun about musical time-travel and stylistic escapades. Widmann explores the multiple stylistic periods through which the orchestra has lived during its long history, with the opening bars featuring an off-stage ensemble playing renaissance dances. Only when the musicians enter the stage does the idea of conducting start to take form, and a concert of today’s understanding commences.
Jörg Widmann – Zeitensprünge: A Concerto for Orchestra in a nutshell
Though Zeitensprünge is a condensed 10-minute orchestral work of only 450 bars (one for each year of the Staatskapelle´s history), it nevertheless has everything a full-scale Concerto for Orchestra needs. There are solos from nearly every section of the orchestra, ensembles such as fanfares emerge from the texture, medieval winds and consorts play next to each other, and Widmann uses a variety of musical forms to lead to a brilliant final canon that symbolises many becoming one.
“When I sit in front of a sheet of manuscript paper, I don’t keep thinking ‘you have to invent something new’. Not at all. My head is full of harmonies, connections and combinations that have never been heard before. My problem is to find forms for them. I am now in a stage of fighting to find these new forms.” – Jörg Widmann
2020 is the 200th anniversary of the Berlin Konzerthaus, a concert hall that started life as a theatre. In celebration of this anniversary as part of Musikfest Berlin, Christian Tetzlaff will perform the world premiere of a new violin concerto by Christian Jost on 6 September. The concerto, entitled Concerto noir redux,will be accompanied by Konzerthausorchester Berlin and conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.
Concerto noir redux was originally intended to bear the same title as his opera Journey of Hope – Voyage of Despair. However, after the cancellation of the original premiere in March 2020, Jost chose instead to make changes to the music in response to recent events.
Christian Jost – Concerto noir redux: music from the lockdown
The result was not only a smaller orchestra, necessitated by social distancing, but a work that expresses a darker character and soundworld. Concerto noir redux is now one of two versions of the work Concerto noir, each with the same solo part.
Usually, I compose with a clear idea of the musical structure and of the sounds, and therefore of the course of the resulting work. But this time it was different. There was an initial thought for the opening in which the solo violin gradually separates from unison with the first violins. From this starting point the work should virtually compose itself. The resulting single-movement concerto with a single tempo (quarter = 76 espressivo) is driven by rhythmic ‘cells’. I completed the composition more or less simultaneously with the end of the lockdown, and since this had given rise to a work with predominantly dark shades of colour and sound, I considered Concerto noir to be a perfect title. Christian Jost
On 19 August 2020, the composer Heinrich Poos died at the age of 91. The composer, who lived in Rhineland-Palatinate and Berlin, stands in the great tradition of the polyphonic choral music of Heinrich Isaak, Heinrich Schütz and Ernst Pepping and is one of the most important German choral composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Poos was born on 25.12.1928 in the Protestant parsonage of Seibersbach (Soonwald). It was here that domestic and church music, together with his environment influenced by Protestantism, laid the foundation for his later thinking and work at an early age. After completing his amateur examination in church music in Oldenburg (1946), Poos studied at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule [Berlin School of Church Music] with Ernst Pepping, Gottfried Grote and Herbert Schulze (state examination in church music in 1954) and completed his musical education from 1955 to 1957 with Erich Peter and Boris Blacher at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. From 1955 to 1970 he worked as a choirmaster and organist in various Berlin communities. During that time, he also studied musicology, philosophy and theology at Freie Universität Berlin. In 1964 Poos received his doctoral degree with a thesis on the vocal œuvre of Ernst Pepping. After having worked as a lecturer of music theory at both Technische Universität Berlin and the Berlin Hochschule für Musik since 1965, he became professor of music theory at the Berlin Hochschule der Künste in 1971. After his retirement in 1994, he accepted a teaching position at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main. Poos was working as a musicologist and composer until his last breath.
Poos was always in “search of new music that rather wants to be music than new”. This search was “laborious”, he admitted in his essay “Beziehungszauber”. The fact that he underwent this effort again and again bore rich fruit in the form of an extensive œuvre, especially in the area of vocal music. His main œuvre has been published by Schott Music. It is characterized by masterful polyphony, bold sonority and an intellectual musical interpretation of the texts. In addition to Bertolt Brecht, whom he had met personally, his passion was for the writers of ancient Greece. With their subtle interpretation of texts, his choral works make major works of classical literature accessible to musicians and listeners of today. His important works include the choral cycles “Pax et Bonum” (1981), “Hypostasis” (Jakobs Traum, 1992), “Epistolae” (1999) “Zeichen am Weg” (1999), the Orpheus Fantasies (2001) and the Brecht cycle “Was hast du gesehen, Wanderer?“ (2006).
The compositional and scientific literary work of Poos has achieved great national and international recognition, including, among others, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1987), the Composition Award of the Union of European Choral Federations (1991), the Peter Cornelius Medal of the Rhineland-Palatinate (1999), and the Geschwister Mendelssohn Medal (2013). With him, we have lost a fascinating artist, who saw himself as a craftsman and a fighter for music and who emphasized in every publisher’s interview how much he enjoyed his profession. To the question “Mr. Poos, how are you?” he always replied: “I have work to do.
The Schott publishing house was privileged to accompany Poos for over six decades and is grateful for the creative, fruitful and always trusting cooperation. His works have found their place in the large and extremely rich repertoire of European choral music and will continue to resound – beyond this day.
On 26 August, Arcade,a new 20-minute orchestral work by Akiko Yamane will receive its world premiere at Suntory Hall, Tokyo. The concert, which is part of the 2020 Suntory Summer Festival will be given by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yoichi Sugiyama.
Yamane describes Arcade as drawing on the idea of drone music that programmatically expresses a consumerist society where the needs and desires of the people are seemingly under control. Below the surface, however, their internal desires and contradictions become apparent. Arcade has been commissioned by the Suntory Arts Foundation.
Akiko Yamane – Arcade: State of uncertainty within a fragile society
I seek to depict this idea with a quality of sound that a person can feel on their skin. The sound fluctuates according to subtle changes within the listener’s body, or in accordance with a particular place or space and so on. In this piece, I stop and turn my attention to the various layers of sound and focus on their essence.Akiko Yamane
We’re checking in with our composers and authors at Schott Music and finding out how they’ve been getting on and if they have made big adjustments to their music making and teaching.
Kristin Thielemann is a professional trumpetist, author, arranger and composer. After several years playing professionally in orchesters like the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Lubeck Philharmonic she decided to live near lake constance with her family, teaching trumpet and holding lectures for music pedagogy. We caught up with Kristin in Zurich, Switzerland.
Hi Kristin. Where have you been spending lockdown?
Mostly at home with my family: My husband Arne, our two boys Jakob (12) and Johann (8) and our cat. Some nights I have been out alone for a walk on the lakeside.
During lockdown, have you been playing more or less music than usual?
Approximately the same amount but different things: Normally I practice a lot on the trumpet for my concerts, which is no longer necessary because all concerts were cancelled. I tried to play all Beethoven piano sonatas. Additionally, I was playing much more music with my family. Both of my children are playing trumpet, the older son also has singing lessons and my husband plays trumpet as well. But with all my new projects during the lockdown, there was not much freetime left. (Kristin founded the podcast, blog and website „Motivation Musikpädagogik“ together with Max Gaertner, which was about online lessons and music pedagogy during the lockdown time).
What do your neighbours think of all the music coming from your house?
They are more than used to it…
Have you performed for them?
Every Saturday evening I play the Schweizerpsalm (Swiss National Anthem) and a Bach Choral for them.
What have you finally been able to get around to that you’d been putting off for too long?
I’ll only say this: Tidying up is the new shopping.
What have you experienced regarding online/video music lessons?
When both students and teachers are technically well-equipped and have suitable teaching material for this situation, online lessons can be a valuable addition. If the teacher uses a good didactical and pedagogical approach, online lessons can be very motivating for a certain time.
Do you have any practice tips for people playing music at home?
Lots of them! Way too many for an interview. Just read my book “Jedes Kind ist musikalisch“ (i.e. “Every child is musical“, a counselor book for parents) or “Voll motiviert“ (i.e. “Totally motivated“ for music pedagogues). Only available in German and Chinese so far.
Have you been working on any other skills during lockdown?
Beside making podcasts and fast-writing a lot of contributions to several music magazines about online lessons. I learned to produce short video clips and cut them online together with my students for a Digital Music Competition, a recent innovation of mine, for the Musicschool Jugendmusik Kreuzlingen, where I give lessons.
Have you given performances online during lockdown?
I didn’t give any trumpet performances but thanks to webinars, I lectured music teachers in topics like motivating music lessons or online teaching. During lockdown, I had the honor of lecturing the very first webinar event in the history of Schott Music in Germany.
What TV box sets or movies have you been binging on?
Beside my podcast, the new website, writing a book, several magazine contributions, lecturing and home-schooling my children, I had very little time for TV or movies…
What music are you listening to?
My children have been listening to a lot of pop music, so have I. In the evenings, our family sometimes watches opera performances on TV and my 8-year-old loves to listen to Beethoven symphonies in the mornings while laying in my bed.
What books have you been reading?
As I always do: I read psychological and pedagogical studies as well as the latest specialist literature on music.
What do you miss most about music before the pandemic?
The interaction between the musicians during rehearsals and concerts; the energy you feel from the other musicians and the audience.
What’s the first live music event you’ll go to or perform at?
In the first service after the lockdown, on Pentecost, my older son Jakob (12), who is boy soprano soloist at the Zürcher Sängerknaben (Zurich Boys’ Choir) and I played arias from George Frederic Handel such as “Eternal Source of Light Divine“ for trumpet, soprano and organ and some arrangements I made from Handel’s Opera arias for the same cast.
What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?
Meeting friends and making music with them, visiting my parents in Hamburg and spending summer holidays at my favorite quiet place on the Baltic Sea where I can watch and listen the waves while writing my new book for Schott Music.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I want to thank my great family for their support during the lockdown where I worked Monday through Sunday sometimes more than 14 hours a day on my short term projects. I know they had to take a back seat so many times so that I other music pedagogues could count on me and children in Germany, Austria and Switzerland could get motivating online music lessons. Thank you so much, Arne, Jakob and Johann.
The world premiere of Pedro Halffter’s Dali and Beethoven will take place at the Arp Museum inside the former Rolandseck train station at Remagen in the German Middle Rhine Valley on 16 August as part of the Beethoven 250 anniversary festival, BTHVN2020. The first performance of Halffter’s piano quintet has been much anticipated after the original premiere in March needed to be postponed.
Dalí and Beethoven forges a link between the two iconic artists referenced in its title, with Halffter expressing a special affinity towards Beethoven – regularly conducting the composer’s symphonies – and that his own family shares a personal connection to Dalí. In turn, Halffter has drawn influence for his composition from a number of the painter’s works including an early portrait of Beethoven.
The venue of the premiere is itself dedicated to surrealist and contemporary painters – a fitting setting for the quintet’s premiere performance.
The music should be understood as a sensory walk through a typical Dalí landscape in which I imagined being able to touch the imaginative figures. A meditative and yet highly contrasted essence is created within a surreal world of sounds and thoughts. (Pedro Halffter)
Pedro Halffter – Dalí and Beethoven: a link between two exceptional artists
Dalí and Beethoven was commissioned by the academy Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz and will be performed by young musicians alongside cellist Alexander Hülshoff and the composer at the piano.
Festival attendees will be able to see the premiere performance of the work in two concerts at 11am and 3pm.
Mikis Theodorakis’ life has been characterised by his political commitment to the Greek people, personal persecution and banishment. For many years, the composer lived in exile in Paris, but returned repeatedly to his native country. During the 1960s, he was a member of the Greek parliament and held the post of a government minister from 1990 – 1992. In 1993, Theodorakis was appointed as the general music director of the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Hellenic Radio and Television. He gained an international reputation for his soundtrack to the film “Zorba the Greek” which is also available in a ballet version and as an orchestral suite. Theodorakis also composed cantatas, chamber music, and orchestral works. Many of his operas were based on dramas from Ancient Greek mythology. His oratorios Axion Esti and Canto General were performed worldwide.
Schott Music warmly congratulates Mikis Theodorakis on the occasion of his 95th birthday.