A preview of Germany′s major classical music festivals in 2011 | Music | DW | 11.05.2011

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A preview of Germany's major classical music festivals in 2011

Germany is alive with the sound of its many renowned music festivals. From the baroque to the contemporary, DW offers a rundown of this year's highlights.

A crowd at an outdoor performance

Spring - time to head outside to take in some great concerts

Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele (April 29 - June 14)

With the world premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas' opera "Bluthaus" and an emphasis on the music of Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag, the festival offers a return to the classics while opening new horizons. The line-up includes singers such as Annette Dasch and Mojca Erdmann and pianists including Arcadi Volodos, Elisabeth Leonskaja and Andras Schiff. For chamber music lovers, the Takacs, Artemis and Hagen Quartets will appear in Schwetzigen's palace.

Dresden Musiktage (May 18 - June 5)

The baroque city will transform into an international meeting point for the young classical stars from Asia and the West to perform under the motto "The Five Elements."

"An integrated lineup gives the audience a view of modern music rather than simply invoking the past," said festival director and cellist Jan Vogler.

Vogler will appear with the Singapore Symphony Orchester as well as the pop singer Rain. Also on the roster are guests including the New York and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras and soloists like cellist Heinrich Schiff and violinist Christian Tetzlaff.

The Göttingen Handel Festival (May 22 - June 18)  

"Vive le Baroque!" With the departure of long-time artistic director Nicholas McGegan, who served the festival for 20 years, a gala in his honor features nine renowned soloists. For a total of twelve days French influences on the works of Handel will be explored. The program also includes "Teseo" and "Jephtha" with Paul Agnew in the title role. Another high point is the appearance of the French baroque ensemble, Les Talents Lyriques.

A Bach statue in Leipzig

Traces of the legendary composer are just around the corner in Leipzig

Bachfest Leipzig (June 10 - 19)

The works of J.S. Bach bear witness to the influence of the composer's contemporaries in the Mediterranean. This year's motto "...according to the Italian taste" considers these sources of his inspiration. The program also extends to Gustav Mahler und Franz Liszt, composers for whom the German master was in turn a towering figure. Top-notch baroque ensembles such as Concerto Köln and Il Giardino Armonico perform Bach alongside composers like Gabrieli, Lotti and Conti. For families, "Mahler for Children" offers song cycles combined with puppet theater.

Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (July 9 - August 28)

From two world premieres to film and DJ events, the festival explores a wide spectrum of Turkish influences on the European continent. "Welcome Turkey" is this year's motto. The pianist Fazil Say performs and conducts his own piano concerto alongside works by Mozart and Bartok with The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Christoph Eschenbach juxtaposes a suite by Ahmed Adnan Saygun with works by Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz in a concert with the festival orchestra.

(July 25 - August 28)

The Bayreuth Festival, founded in 1876 exclusively to stage the works of Richard Wagner, enters its 100th year with a new staging of the opera "Tannhäuser" directed by Sebastian Baumgarten and conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. Also on the program are "Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg," "Lohengrin," "Parsifal" and "Tristan und Isolde." Several debuts will also take place on the the Green Hill this year, including Robert Dean Smith and Irene Thorinwerden in the leading roles of Tristan and Isolde. Bayreuth will have to wait until 2013 for its next "Ring" cycle, however, scheduled for Wagner's bicentenary.  

Performers in Parsifal on stage

Germanic and Wagnerian heroes take the stage in "Parsifal"

Musikfest Berlin (September 2 - 20)

Franz Liszt and Wolfgang Rihm are at the center of the German capital's annual twentieth-century music festival, not only to commemorate the Liszt bicentenary but to contrast his championing of the piano's timbral world with vocally-oriented orchestrations, explained Artistic Director Winrich Hopp. The program includes recitals with Maurizio Pollini and Pierre-Laurent Aimard and guest orchestras such as Philadelphia and the London Philharmonia. Also of note are the world premiere of Hans Zenders' complete "Logos Fragmente," to by performed by the "SWR Sinfonieorchester" and the "Vokalensemble Stuttgart," and Luigi Nono's demanding "Prometeo," for vocals, orchestra, live electronic and two conductors.

Beethovenfest Bonn (September 9 - October 9)

Under the motto "Music for the Future. Beethoven, Liszt and Innovation in Music," Beethoven's home city will pay homage to Franz Liszt, who initiated Bonn's first music festival in 1845. Alongside renowned orchestras from Germany, England and the U.S., musicians and ensembles specializing in the musical traditions of the Balkans, such as the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic, will appear. Further highlights include the appearance of the legendary minimalist composer Steve Reich performing his own works and a concert by the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq in the eleventh year of the Orchestra Campus program for young musicians.

Author: Rebecca Schmid
Editor: Greg Wiser

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