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Culture news
Beethoven Festival in 2006: "Rossija" -"Russia"
08.17.2006 14:07

beethoven Thanks to Beethoven, Bonn is a worldwide cultural attraction.

The Beethoven Festival, hosted by the city each year, has sharpened its profile since 2004 by focusing each time on the music of a particular country. The roughly sixty opera and concert performances between August 31 and October 1, 2006 will revolve around Russia.

This year’s festival motto is Rossija (Russia). At first glance, the theme may astonish, as Beethoven never went to Russia. But Russia came to him. In the lively cultural exchange in Europe at the turn of the 19th century, Beethoven’s compositions quickly spread to Russia. Russian princes awarded commissions to the composer, including those for string quartets and overtures, and his Missa solemnis was first performed in its entirety in St. Petersburg.

"Beethoven and Russia may not be an ostensibly strong connection,“ says festival director Ilona Schmiel. But she believes “there’s a great deal to be discovered.”

One pillar of the Beethoven Festival each year are complete cycles of works. “Making Genre History Audible,” the 2006 lineup includes all of Beethoven’s solo concertos. The five piano concertos feature Russian pianist Mikhail Pletnev. The Violin Concerto and the Triple Concerto are also scheduled.

Another core theme are the world premieres of works in which composers come to grips with Beethoven’s legacy. The commissions awarded this year by the Beethoven Festival include an opera to be written by Russian composer Vladimir Tarnopolski. German composer HP Platz, Michael Gordon from the US and Johannes Harneit will also deliver compositions that refer to Beethoven’s creative output.

The rich selection of works from the Russian cultural sphere ranges from the symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich to contemporary compositions by Sofia Gubaidulina and Lera Auerbach. Also noteworthy are the standout Russian musicians to appear in Bonn. The Russian National Orchestra will play under the direction of Austrian conductor Christian Gansch. The Moscow Art Trio, the Brodsky Quartet, pianistin Lilya Zilberstein and violinist Maxim Vengerov will be heard as well.

As always, the festival serves up some exciting “extras,” including programs dedicated to composers in their anniversary year, not only Mozart and Schumann but also Shostakovich, whose one hundredth birthday falls in 2006. Other highlights include a recital in the run-up to the festival by the internationally celebrated chanson singer Ute Lemper. The Yara Tal / Andreas Groethuysen piano duo are on hand.

The festival will of course once go beyond the classical sphere to include attractive events like performances by the Thilo Wolf Jazz Quartet, the Berlin Saxophone Ensemble and the world premiere of the multimedia opera Jenseits der Schatten (Beyond the Shadows) by Vladimir Tarmopolski.

The Orchestral Campus, hosted in cooperation with Deutsche Welle, is based on the concept of inviting young musicians to Germany to participate in the Beethoven Festival here and to rehearse a program in a one-week workshop that is presented at a “workshop concert.” In past years, music academy orchestras performed in Bonn, coming from the cities of Kiev, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Peking and Kraków.

This time it will be a youth orchestra. The South African National Youth Orchestra is part of a unique system of talent promotion and education through which children from over a hundred townships receive musical training. The system gives a perspective most importantly to children from socially deprived families.

Founded at the initiative of Deutsche Welle, the Orchestral Campus will be held for the sixth time. The title this year, "Sharing Music - Saving Life," points to the value of education through music. Apart from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and a work by Hans Huyssen commissioned by Deutsche Welle, the young musicians will perform a work firmly rooted in South African tradition: the "Princess Magogo Songs" by Sibongile Khumalo. “It will be a big discovery,” says Ilona Schmiel.

All in all, it’s an ambitious program made possible with support from the city of Bonn (1.3 million Euros) and numerous sponsors, a primary one being Deutsche Welle.

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