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Classical repertoire – from Bach to Schönberg – comes just as naturally to Michael Wendeberg as his passion for new music. He is especially eager to change the way contemporary repertoire and music is seen and heard through comparing and correlating different music traditions.
He is pursuing this approach in particular in his current position as musical director of the Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva, which he has held since 2011. Michael Wendeberg has also conducted renowned orchestras and ensembles that include the Staatskapelle Berlin, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Ljubljana, Klangforum Wien, Remix Ensemble Porto, Musikfabrik Cologne, Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart and the Basel Sinfonietta. He has made guest appearances at the Lucerne Festival, Munich Biennale, Bregenz Festival, Venice Biennale, Eclat Festival Stuttgart and Klangspuren Schwaz, as well as at Wien Modern and Musica de hoy Madrid with a variety of programmes.
Michael Wendeberg studied conducting in Toshiyuki Kamioka’s masterclass in Saarbrücken, and piano with Markus Stange, Bernd Glemser and Benedetto Lupo. During this time he worked as Toshiyuki Kamioka’s assistant at the Wuppertaler Bühnen. After graduating Michael Wendeberg held positions at the Nationaltheater Mannheim and Staatsoper Berlin, where he assisted Daniel Barenboim and guest conductors such as Pierre Boulez and Sir Simon Rattle, and was principal conductor at the Lucerne Theater. His opera repertoire from this time comprises, among others, Bizet’s Carmen, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Handel’s Orlando, Mozart’s Zaide, Clemenza di Tito and The Magic Flute, Verdi’s La Traviata and Il Trovatore, Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale, Rossini’s La Scala di Seta and La Cenerentola, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Ponchielli’s La Gioconda and Bernstein’s West Side Story.
In freelance music theatre projects Michael Wendeberg always cultivates a close working relationship with the directing team. He gained national recognition early on in his career in 2006 with The man who mistook his wife for a hat by Michael Nyman in Wuppertal, with the world premiere of ArbeitNahrungWohnung by Enno Poppe in a production by Anna Viebrock in 2008 at the Munich Biennale, and with Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend, which was staged by the director Thomas Fiedler in Zurich in 2010. In 2016 he led the world premiere of Sidney Corbett’s opera Die Andere at the Magdeburg Theatre.
As a pianist Michael Wendeberg won several national and international piano competitions and performed as a soloist at renowned festivals and with prestigious orchestras under conductors such as Jonathan Nott, Marek Janowski and Daniel Barenboim. From 2000 until 2005 he was a member of the Ensemble intercontemporain and worked intensively with Pierre Boulez. He recently performed the late composer’s complete works for piano during his 90th birthday celebrations at the Berlin State Opera in 2015.
In the 2016/17 season Michael Wendeberg will stand on the podium of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, make his debut with the Ensemble Modern and return to the Staatsoper Berlin for the revival of The Magic Flute and a new production of Aribert Reimann’s Gespenstersonate. Starting in summer 2016, he also holds the position of “Erster Kapellmeister” of the Halle Opera.
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Michael Wendeberg not only led the Staatskapelle with arresting precision, but also co-ordinated a complex mass of sound which contained a whole palette of sound beyond that of a standard classical orchestra; squeaks, rustles, a piece of styrofoam for a string instrument, and a whole host of electronics. The musicians are no strangers to new sounds, and confidently proved themselves to be true all-rounders.
Die Deutsche Bühne, Joachim Lange, 06/03/2017
The Sinfonietta Basel drew attention to the music with precision and, where the composer intended it, thrilling intensity. Guest conductor Michael Wendeberg led the musicians with a springy beat, making numerous light and haunting moments possible.
Die Oberbadische, Willi Vogel 09/03/2015
Pölzgutter pays minute attention to the gestures and emotions that depict the music. The conductor Michael Wendeberg presents the music in detail with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra with emphasis. The most beautiful sounds come out of the orchestra pit, the orchestra listens and thinks with him.
NZZ, Alfred Zimmerlin, 29/04/2014
This is when one can really see what an alert conductor is capable of. The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra under Michael Wendeberg’s direction is on top-form, playing crisply, springily, nimbly and colourfully. This is what makes Donizetti’s music, which is not free from sentimentality, fun; the impetus from the orchestra pit carries what is happening onstage with authority.
www.kulturteil.ch, Peter Bitterli, 27/04/2014 (on “Don Pasquale” in Lucerne)