From the beginning of September, Bonn will play host to many talented musicians. Established stars and young talent will perfom as part of the 2012 Beethovenfest. Finally, the program has been released.
The motto of the 2012 Beethoven Festival goes back to an 1820 quote from its namesake: "True art has a mind of its own. It cannot be forced into flattering molds." Festival director Illona Schmiel says her team has deliberately selected artists and groups who don't fit the mold, but write and compose their own works. New music, approaches and formats, such as choreographed concerts, will be a major focus of this year's festival talent.
Daring folk music
For example, Clarinetist David Orlowsky, along with his trio have developed world chamber music. Performing under the name "Chronos", the threesome bring their own musical arrangements to a rather unusual venue – a tram stop.
The Formation Sparks present "Folk Tunes" with artists, playing over 24 different instruments, a violinist, cellist and pianist. The result – a fusion of German ballads and British 'Evergreens', from Russian soul and Mediterranean vitality, to a touch of Bavarian brass band music.
There will also be less well-known artists at the festival, like guitarist Aniello Desiderio from Napels, who, perfoming with his brothers, will present his own version of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons' in an adaptation by Astor Piazzolla.
For Illona Schmiel the small acts revolutionize the concert business, creating an appetite for bigger orchestral performances.
"They are the ones that make it unbelievably exciting to go back to Arnold Schoenbergs 'Gurre-Liedern' (Songs of Gurre) from 1913 and think about the abundant works of Schoenberg. It is exactly these opposing poles: how do established stars respond, how do young people deal with these," says the festival director.
Laugh at yourself
Beethovenfest 2012 centers around the theme of comedy. The trio Igudesmann & Jo plus Manny Ax have an unusual way with a violinist and two pianists forever at odds with one another. What effect this will have on Beethoven's piano and violin sonata will become evident at the start of September.
Of course there are also works on the program you would expect to see at a Beethoven festival. Andras Schiff starts with Beethoven's piano sonata cycle and the Borodin Quartet begins with Beethoven's string quartet cycle. Both will be finished at the 2012 festival. The Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen will play all of Beethoven's symphonies. The Finnish conductor and composer will make his Bonn debut with two symphonies and with a composition from one of the five continents. The German Chamber Philharmonic from Bremen will be giving two concerts, one conducted by Paavo Järvi, the other by Herbert Blomstedt. Some orchestras are continually drawn to the Rhine region, such as the Bavarian State Orchestra with musician Kent Nagano.
A festival within a festival
The Beethoven Festival is celebrating the 100th birthday of John Cage. "Cage did things musically that were unheard of in the 20th century. He asked questions that to this day still haven't been answered. He revolutionilized musical life, and performance practice and was a pioneer for many things that only became reality in the 21st century" says Schmiel.
On a 'Cage-night' you can hear many different pieces, including his piano concerto, the "Sonatas and interludes", "In the bird cage" and "Music Walk", and "4'33"", a piece dealing exclusively with silence, or "Music Circus", where only a beginning and end point are determined. Cage's "Song Book 1 & 2" will also be staged in the Art and Exhibition Hall with the Freyer Ensemble.
A chance for young talent
Youth are not only important, but the greatest commitment and challenge one has, says Ilona Schmiel. She's excited to find young talent to bring to the festival. In the past few years, this has been a very successful concept for the Beethovenfest.
It has certainly played a part in DW being the festival's project partner, with this, their 12th year organizing the campus orchestra. As well as this, youth orchestras from partner countries travel around Germany to rehearse and perform their Beethoven pieces. In 2012 Bonn will play host to the Turkish National Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. This will be the second youth orchestra from Turkey to come to the Beethovenfest. And you can also look forward to the premier of "The Traffic" by Mehmet Erhan Tanmans.
This year's program is packed. A total of 66 concerts at 27 venues make up Beethovenfest 2012. More than 2,000 artists will take part. It's certainly worth a visit for those wishing to embark on a musical journey from the era of Beethoven to the present day.
Author: Conny Paul/jw