Dark night of the soul
As part of this year’s BBC Proms, Jeroen Berwaerts performs the UK premiere of Tobias Broström’s new work Nigredo: Dark Night of the Soul, a double concerto for two trumpets and orchestra. Directed by Markus Stenz, the piece is a co-commission by BBC and Malmö Symphony Orchestra (performed here by BBC National Orchestra of Wales), and was written specifically for Jeroen Berwaerts.
Broström explains the title thus: ‘The manner in which I have composed the music and chosen the title of the work is linked to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s definition of “nigredo”, which can be described as a moment of ultimate desperation, and this is a prerequisite for personal development’. In alchemy, ‘nigredo’ (blackness) is a process of decay or decomposition – the first step, via ‘albedo’ (whiteness), ‘citrinitas’ (yellowness) and ‘rubedo’ (redness), to the philosopher’s stone; Jung stated that the ‘rediscovery of the principles of alchemy came to be an important part of my work as a pioneer of psychology’.
Royal Albert Hall
Farewell letters of European resistance fighters condemned to death
Peter Rundel conducts Luigi Nono’s Il Canto Sospeso at the Salzburger Festpiele, featuring soprano Yeree Suh, contralto Bettina Ranch, tenor Robin Tirschler, as well as the SWR Vokalensemble and the SWR Symphonieorchester. The piece, literally translated as ‘the suspended song’ and subtitled ‘Farewell letters of European resistance fighters condemned to death’, utilizes an anthology of texts published in 1954 consisting of an a collection of such farewell letters written to loved ones by the hostages shortly before their executions by the Nazis, and is dedicated to ‘all of [the resistance fighters]’. Today regarded as a “serial masterpiece” and admired for the variety of ideas achieved with the compositional technique of serialism, the piece is supplemented on the program by movements from Carlo Gesualdo’s Responsoria et alia ad Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae spectantia and Wolfgang Rihm’s Seven Passion Texts for six voices.
From Finland with Love
Cellist Anssi Karttunen, along with violinist Marina Chiche and pianist Florent Boffard, conceived of two events focused around and closely collaborating with Magnus Lindberg, a Finish composer. Music from the North - from the Scandinavian sphere, from the Baltics – is influenced by the great outdoors and is commonly in large formats, featuring orchestra and choirs, and thus is somewhat rarely heard in the intimacy of chamber music or the solo piano.
To illustrate them and demonstrate the incredible vivacity of musical creation of our time, Lindberg composed the two chamber pieces on this program, Expressione II and Santa Fe Project, which can be experienced, alongside Beethoven and Brahms, at Montpellier Festival in Montpellier, France.
Salle Pasteur | Le Corum Montpellier
New position for Alejo Pérez
Starting from the 2019-2020 season, Alejo Pérez will become the new music director at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, which is based in Ghent and Antwerp. He has been appointed by Jan Vandenhouwe, who will take over as artistic director for the opera, starting in the same season.
Audiences at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, who first got to know the Argentinian conductor in the production of Pelléas et Mélisande (season 2017-2018) directed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet and Marina Ambravovic, showered the maestro with enthusiastic applause after every performance. His conducting of the Debussy opera also earned him praise in the (inter)national press.
Together with Jan Vandenhouwe, maestro Pérez will take up his duties in the 2019-2020 season, conducting the opening production for the season. Each season, he will conduct at least two operas and three symphonic programs. As music director, he will also assist the artistic director and advise on matters such as guest conductors, casting soloists, hiring new musicians and chorus members, and programming.
Alejo Pérez: “When I first conducted at Vlaanderen Opera, leading last season’s production of Pelléas et Mélisande, I immediately felt a great affinity with the orchestra and all the people involved. This is something one should not underestimate; I believe that good chemistry and being on the same wavelength are absolutely essential in any artistic endeavour. That’s why I see great potential in a long-term collaboration with this company, in which I am fortunate to experience a shared passion for music. I am also truly happy to be working alongside Jan Vandenhouwe, with whom I share a common vision for the future of the company. I look forward to playing my part in shaping Vlaanderen’s musical life with great expectation and excitement.”
High in the North
From 17 to 27 July, the Meta4 string quartet will be performing numerous concerts at the chamber music festival in Kuhmo, Finland. Since 2008 Meta4 has been quartet-in-residence at the festival every year, which celebrates its 50th birthday with the current edition.
Antti Tikkanen, Minna Pensola, Atte Kilpeläinen and Tomas Djupsjöbacka bring a diverse repertoire from Baroque to New Music to sound, especially as a quartet, but also as soloists and in other formations. They also interpret a number of commissioned works commissioned by the festival over the years, including works by Toshio Hosokawa, Magnus Lindberg and Einojuhani Rautavaara.
17. through 27.6.2019
Kuhmo Chamber Music 2019
Travelling with Bach and Ysaÿe
Antje Weithaas will be a guest in Seoul, Shenzhen and Shanghai between 18 and 25 July with violin solo works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Eugène Ysaÿe. Both in concerts and with her 2017 recording, the violinist has inspired critics and audiences alike with these works.
"Antje Weithaas' interpretations move because she, musically perfect, leaves the pieces their independence and resistance", the magazine concerti, for example, found, and Spiegel online commented under the heading All is Glamour: "Above all, however, Weithaas reaches for the Bach so powerfully and with a transparent, flowing tone that one comes to perceive all these works anew. Individuality and faithfulness to the original: no contradiction".
Antje Weithaas can also be heard with this repertoire in Germany in August, when she gives guest performances in Elmau, Flemhude and Hamburg.
For dates, please see left
Professorship in Cologne
In the coming semester Brigitta Muntendorf will take up a professorship at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. In a team with Professors Michael Beil and Miroslav Srnka she will teach Bachelor- and Master-Students in Instrumental Composition. She is by no means a newcomer to teaching at the institute.
In the past two years she has already worked as a substitute professor in Cologne. The composer says about her new position: "I'm so honoured and proud to share my artistic energy and my joy of creation with the students l already have and the students of tomorrow as a permanent professor of composition ".
new position for Eva Ollikainen
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has appointed Eva Ollikainen Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, with an initial four-year contract beginning with the 2020/21 season. The ISO is the national orchestra of Iceland and resident at Harpa Concert Hall, a landmark building in Reykjavík’s waterfront area. She will be working alongside Managing Director Lára Sóley Jóhannsdóttir:
“Eva Ollikainen's appointment marks a new chapter for the orchestra – a start of an incredibly exciting time of great opportunities. With her previous work with the orchestra, she has gained a strong connection with our musicians and audiences through her commitment, vibrant energy and enthusiasm. She understands how important the orchestra is to our society and how that connection can be developed even further. But most importantly Eva shares our vision for the future. She has all the qualities needed to raise the artistic level of the orchestra. We cannot wait to welcome Eva to our team.”
During her tenure, she will conduct a minimum of eight weeks during the regular concert season and will join the orchestra on international tours. Before her inaugural season, Ollikainen takes to the stage in March 2020 for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s 70th anniversary.
“I have always felt a deep bond with the musicians of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Not only are they virtuosos on the highest international level, but their way of understanding and communicating music is unique. I very much look forward to our collaboration exploring new and old repertoire together, and the musical encounters with our fantastic audience," says the Finnish conductor.