This year’s Musikfest Berlin presents Monteverdi’s three operas and older musical history works performed by top-class ensembles on period instruments. The programme relates this music to Modern and contemporary music with the performance of pieces by Harrison Birtwistle and Wolfgang Rihm, the “Il canto sospeso” by Luigi Nono and new works by Mark Andre and Rebecca Saunders. The Berlin orchestras and the great international guest orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the Filarmonica della Scala perform orchestral works by Bruckner, Verdi and Mozart in the Philharmonie.

Musical milestones of the 17th and 18th centuries played on period instruments – organized by the Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker from 31 August to 18 September – can be experienced at the Musikfest Berlin 2017: the three Monteverdi operas with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his ensembles, the RIAS Kammerchor concerts with the Capella de la Torre and the Akademie für Alte Musik, the “Requiem” by Mozart played on instruments from his time by MusicAeterna with Teodor Currentzis. At the same time, these concerts are connected with the great symphonic repertoire of the 19th century, the Modern era and music of our time. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam brings Wolfgang Rihm’s “IN-SCHRIFT”, composed for San Marco, to Berlin. The Ensemble Musikfabrik evening reflects the materials of Orpheus and Odysseus into the present time with works by Harrison Birtwistle and the premiere of Rebecca Saunders’ “YES”, which refers to the Molly monologue in James Joyce’s “Ulysses” – an occasion for a discussion about the use of text and voice in art between Saunders and video artist Ed Atkins (exhibition in Martin-Gropius-Bau from 29 September onwards). “Il canto sospeso” by Luigi Nono, which was composed 60 years ago and not least made famous when Claudio Abbado conducted it, will be performed. And a series of events are devoted to the work of the Korean composer Isang Yun, whose 100th birthday is on 17 September.

This evening (31 August), the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim open the 2017 Musikfest Berlin with Bruckner’s 8th Symphony in the Philharmonie. A few days later (6 September) the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam under chief conductor Daniele Gatti performs Bruckner’s 9th Symphony and Wolfgang Rihm’s “IN-SCHRIFT”. Bruckner’s 4th Symphony is conducted by Marek Janowski in the Berliner Philharmoniker concert (14-16 September). The Berliner Philharmoniker’s concert with conductor Susanna Mälkki includes Ferruccio Busoni’s “Dance Waltzes”, Jean Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony and Bartók’s violin concert with Gil Shaham as soloist. Leonidas Kavakos interprets Brahms’ violin concert with the Filarmonica della Scala and chief conductor Riccardo Chailly. The orchestra is a guest at the festival for the first time and will perform the “Stabat Mater” from “Quattro pezzi sacri” and “Te Deum” by Giuseppe Verdi together with the Rundfunkchor Berlin (13 September).

Andrea Zietzschmann (general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation): “The Musikfest Berlin greatly contributes to raising the profile of the Berliner Philharmonie and sets a fresh impetus: with daring programmes that time and again search for a dialogue between the traditional and the modern. Above and beyond that, the Musikfest gives us the opportunity to serve as a host together with the Berliner Festspiele and, in addition to the wonderful Berlin orchestras, to welcome terrific colleagues from all over the world to the Philharmonie.”

Thomas Oberender (general manager of the Berliner Festspiele): “Every year the Musikfest Berlin offers a platform for new discoveries. Starting with the transitional period of the symphonic core repertoire into the Modern period, a new canon is developed every year for the music of the 21st century, which this year stretches from the beginnings of European music history through to the premiere of a contemporary piece. A guarantee for the success of this unique project is the gratifying collaboration with the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation.”

Winrich Hopp (artistic director of the Musikfest Berlin): “’Dialogo della musica antica et della moderna‘ was the name of a much-discussed polemic paper by Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the famous astronomer and contemporary of Monteverdi’s, who argued for a Modern period in music. And so this year’s Musikfest Berlin programme once again offers a diverse panorama that stretches from the earlier musical history of the late renaissance and early baroque through classic romantic orchestral music to Luigi Nono’s epoch-creating “Il canto sospeso”, the music of Isang Yun and the composers of our present time, to Salvatore Sciarrino, Wolfgang Rihm, Harrison Birtwistle, Rebecca Saunders and Mark Andre.”


Claudio Monteverdi’s music provides the framework for this year’s festival in commemoration of his 450th birthday: his three operas, which will be performed on period instruments, can be experienced at the beginning of the festival (2/3 and 5 September) with the English Baroque Soloists, the Monteverdi Choir and several soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. At the Critics' Quartet on Sunday, 3 September, there will be discussed Claudio Monteverdi’s operas at the Italian Cultural Institute, in particular the interpretation story of “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria”. The RIAS-Kammerchor and the Capella de la Torre will perform the Marienvesper and the missa da capella “In illo tempore” under its new chief conductor Justin Doyle in the Pierre Boulez Saal and the St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale (15 and 16 September). The Akademie für Alte Musik plays works by Monteverdi’s contemporaries on 4 September. The Chorus and Orchestra MusicAeterna under Teodor Currentzis perform the “Requiem” in D minor by W.A. Mozart on historical instruments (7 September).

The music of the Modern and present eras are also feature at the Musikfest Berlin. The SWR Symphonieorchester and SWR Vokalensemble with Peter Rundel conducting bring the epoch-making “Il canto sospeso” by Luigi Nono with singers Mojca Erdmann, Jenny Carlstedt and Robin Tritschler, as well as “über”, a piece for clarinet, orchestra and live electronics by Mark Andre with Jörg Widman as soloist to the stage. Like Mark Andre, London-born Rebecca Saunders has also lived in Berlin for a long time. Her new composition “YES” will premiere on 9 September with singer Donatienne Michel-Dansac and the Ensemble Musikfabrik. British composer Harrison Birtwistle will also be a guest on the same evening, which will see his “26 Orpheus Elegies” performed. The materials incorporated into these contemporary pieces in turn draw a connection to the Monteverdi operas, with Rebecca Saunders focusing extensively on texts from the Molly monologues in James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” – and, for the first time in her oeuvre, has them sung. The use of text and voice in art is the topic of the “Perspektivwechsel” discussion, which Rebecca Saunders will hold with artist Ed Atkins on 10 September at 3 p.m. in the foyer of the Kammermusiksaal following the matinee of Ensemble Musikfabrik with solo works (in cooperation with the initiative neue musik berlin e.V.). Starting on 29 September, a large solo exhibition of Ed Atkins’ work bearing the title “Old Food” will be held at the Martin-Gropius-Bau as part of the Berliner Festspiele’s “Immersion” series.

100 years ago (17 September, 1917) composer Isang Yun was born in Korea, establishing a second home in Berlin, and dying there on 3 November, 1995. To mark this anniversary, a series of six events – chamber music, talks and a film – will be presented, as well as an exhibition in the foyer of the Kammermusiksaal. Highlights of Isang Yun’s contributions include the orchestral concerts that take place at the end of the Musikfest Berlin, on the birthday itself of the 17th September: chief conductor Shiyeon Sung and the Gyenoggi Philharmonic Orchestra will perform works by Yun, Kosokawa and Ligeti in a matinee at the Konzerthaus. In the evening, Vladimir Jurowski will give his inaugural concert as the new chief conductor of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, linking the orchestral piece “Dimensionen” by Isang Yun with the 20th century Modern era and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.


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