During my madcap tour through European summer festivals from Moritzburg (Germany) to East Lothian (Scotland), more reminiscent at times of a classical music circus than of a mere series of staid classical music events, one issue has remained constant: the space between movements and whether to applaud. In fact, the to clap or not to clap aspects are being slowly subsumed in a realization that the space between movements is a special one; whether it is filled with the enthusiasm of uncertain applause, or the hushed awe of silence, it serves as a uniquely unifying and highly critical function for the audience, performers and the music. Three European festivals on the docket should continue to demonstrate this.
Running through October 9
The Beethovenfest Bonn, in the city where the composer was born and lived out his sometimes terrible childhood, opened its doors on September 9 with a concert by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and moved into high gear when pianist Hélène Grimaud (she loves wolves) joined the Steel Town crew on September 10, broadcast live from the Beethovenhalle on a large screen in the center of Bonn. The summit, though, could be Carolin Widmann's world premiere of Rebecca Saunders' new Violin Concerto.
Rebecca Saunders' Chroma. at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, November 27th, 2010
The Festival will also present the sixth year of its film competition calling on young media producers to "visualize" Beethoven in short films, installations and video clips. Enrique Sánchez Lansch and the competition winners presented the winners films at the Kunstmuseum Bonn on September 13. To view the award-winning films of 2010 click here.
Another notable event during the Festival was the granting to Zubin Mehta, whose Technicolor musical style remains rooted more in Hollywood than in the world outside, with the Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize 2011. Mehta is celebrating his 75th birthday this year with performances with the world's great orchestras including Berlin and Israel. His devotion to Israel has become more controversial with each year, and recently served as a political flash point in London during a Proms concert interrupted by protesters.
Cello Viva, Moscow
September 27-October 9
Starting on September 27, Moscow will host Boris Andrianov's Cello Viva festival, featuring stars Steven Isserlis, Julian Rachlin, Yuri Bashmet and Andrianov himself.
The proceedings will kick off with a concert in storied Tchaikovsky Hall in memory of Mstislav Rostropovich on which Andrianov plays the world's premiere of an Elegy for cello and strings by the Greek composer Vangelis, followed by Isserlis playing CPE Bach, Bashmet playing Schnittke and the Moscow Soloists Chamber Ensemble playing Mahler's adaptation of Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet.
The next night, at the Artstrelka Cultural Centre, the Moscow debut of "classical club-night" from London will take place. Presenting contemporary classical music in a 'non classical way, composer and turntablist Gabriel Prokofiev will serve up his own Cello Multitracks and Second String Quartet along with music by Giovanni Sollima and DJ sets in between the live performances.
Succeeding nights will bring forth a concert in memory of Pablo Casals, and one for the greatest cello composer of them all, Luigi Boccherini (four concertos, played by Denis Shapovalov, Alexandr Bouzlov, Claudio Bohórquez and Andrianov). The closing concert with feature another Vangelis world premiere, Penderecki and Tchaikovsky, before finishing with Brahms' Double Concerto starring Rachlin and Andrianov.
Morgenland Osnabrück Festival
October 7-October 11
The applause will just have been dying down when The Morgenland Osnabrück Festival takes off on October 7. With a history dating back to Charlemagne, and known for its role in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 which formalized the end of the terrible Thirty Years War. Osnabrück continues to play a pivotal role in its country's future, now through its cultural activities and peace initiatives, and is the only Germany city to be located entirely in a national park.
Founded in 2005, the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück is devoted to the world of Near Eastern music. This year it's a musical dialogue with Turkey, centering on a cooperative musical projects with the Izmir State Opera. There will also be performance by the Festival's Morgenland Chamber Orchestra, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Armenian duduk virtuoso Jivan Gasparyan, and Bulgarian singer Yildiz Ibrahimova.
The Festival opening concert by Azmeh's Ensemble Hewar will combine traditional Arabic music with jazz, scat and classical music, breaking down the boundaries of traditional genres and uniting elements of different music cultures into a unique and unmistakable sound. The second half of the concert will feature the Morgenland Chamber Orchestra, bringing together Syrian, Azerbaijani, Iranian, Kurdish, Armenian and German musicians in differing instrumental groupings.
Other highlights will be performances of Ahmed Adnan Saygun's Oratorio Yunus Emre with the Osnabrück Youth Choir and the Izmir State Opera Orchestra. Taking place under the auspices of the Festival will be a music school exchange program between the Osnabrück City School of Music and Arts and the Barenboim-Said Conservatory in Nazareth, Israel.