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Hamburg International Music Festival – A Retrospective

The festival has finally arrived where it's meant to be: at the Elbphilharmonie.

The performance was enough to make you convert to Catholicism.

Das Hamburger Abendblatt über das Verdi-Requiem der Mailänder Scala / The Hamburger Abendblatt on the Verdi Requiem by La Scala, Milan

Sixty-two concerts with 41 different programmes and a total of 78,000 guests: on 30 May 2018, the 3rd Hamburg International Music Festival had its grand finale with two sold-out concerts in the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle. The festival ran for a good four weeks under the motto »Utopia« and featured major guest appearances by ensembles like La Scala, Milan, and the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as sections highlighting music theatre, film music and the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

All Events at a Glance

After two editions before the Elbphilharmonie was opened, the festival has now arrived where it's meant to be, and will be held annually in future. And the next festival will once again combine unusual productions, international stars and musical masterpieces in a large-scale cooperation between Hamburg concert promoters and venues. The 4th Hamburg International Music Festival begins on 27 April 2019 under the motto »Identity«.

Peter Eötvös / Symphonieorchester der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg / Europa Chor Akademie Görlitz
Peter Eötvös / Symphonieorchester der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg / Europa Chor Akademie Görlitz
Peter Eötvös / Symphonieorchester der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg / Europa Chor Akademie Görlitz
Forum Neue Vokalmusik
Stockhausen: »Gruppen« / Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien

BEYOND SPACE AND TIME: MUSIC BY KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN AT KAMPNAGEL AND IN THE MEHR! THEATER

»Believe in the present« was the motto that Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) lived and worked by. He was one of the most important 20th century composers, and one of the advocates of a radical volte-face in music after 1945. A work like »Gruppen« calls for no fewer than three orchestras playing at the same time – a line-up too big even for the Elbphilharmonie. Stockhausen's monumental piece has previously been performed in sports arenas and airport hangars, and at the Hamburg International Music Festival it was put on in the large auditorium of the Mehr! Theater.

Extracts from the opera »Licht« also formed part of the Stockhausen programme at the festival: with a total running time of 29 hours, the work is the longest opera cycle in music history. Stockhausen wove the seven days of the week into seven separate operas – a cycle that has never been performed in its entirety. At the 3rd Hamburg International Music Festival, the symphony orchestra of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg played »Donnerstag« from »Licht«.

Video: Trumpeter Paul Hübner on Stockhausen

Peter Eötvös / Symphonieorchester der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg / Europa Chor Akademie Görlitz
Sciarrino: »Lohengrin« / Sarah Maria Sun
Sciarrino: »Lohengrin« / Sarah Maria Sun

OPULENT PRODUCTION OF A WORK OF EXTREMES: SCIARRINO'S »LOHENGRIN« IN THE ELBPHILHARMONIE RECITAL HALL

Under the direction of Michael Sturminger, one of Austria's best-known theatre and opera producers, and on three evenings in the Elbphilharmonie Recital Hall, soprano Sarah Maria Sun sang the role of »Elsa« in Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino's setting of the Lohengrin story. The opulent production of this modern chamber opera made maximum use of the Recital Hall's resources.

Sciarrino gives his soprano a part to sing that pushes at the envelope of human articulation, with swallowing, slurping and cooing sounds that Sarah Maria Sun integrated into her performance as vividly as the spoken passages, which she recited with a dark alto tinge. Sun embodied Elsa's breakdowns and delusions, her erotic fantasies and her moments of clarity with an intensity nothing short of oppressive.

Hamburger Abendblatt

PUBLIC VIEWING AT HAMBURG'S PORT ANNIVERSARY

Thousands of people took advantage of the chance during Hamburg's Port Anniversary celebrations to enjoy highlights of the last Elbphilharmonie season at the open-air cinema. Recordings broadcast on the Elbphilharmonie forecourt included the Beethoven series conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, children's and jazz concerts, and The National's October 2017 gig. There was also a live stream of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra playing in the Grand Hall.

Watch the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra concert now
stargaze / David Bowie: Blackstar
stargaze / David Bowie: Blackstar

A UTOPIAN OF POP CULTURE: DAVID BOWIE

Scarcely any other pop star has possessed more alter egos. The ensemble stargaze and the singers Anna Calvi and Anja Plaschg took on one of the great utopians of pop culture: David Bowie. Together, they performed Bowie's final album, »Black Star«, in a new arrangement in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall.

»Look up here, I´m in heaven«: more about quick-change artist David Bowie and his last album

Two thousand people, many of whom had no idea they would like something like this, found out that they liked it a lot.

Hamburger Abendblatt

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC EXPERTS – THE KRONOS QUARTET

Since it was founded in 1973, the Kronos Quartet has commissioned no fewer than 400 compositions from contemporary composers all over the world. Hardly any other ensemble can claim to have its finger on the pulse of the time as much as the American string quartet. The evening in the Grand Hall with the four Kronos musicians was one of the festival highlights.

In a recital lasting almost three hours, the Kronos Quartet juxtaposed 16 pieces of an infinite musical mosaic, consisting mostly of brand-new music from composers in Serbia, Egypt, Canada, Iran, China, Azerbaijan, India, the USA and Syria. Little drums joined the strings, Chinese cymbals, little bells and colourful musical pipes.

Hamburger Abendblatt

Terrific production

Die Welt über »Frankenstein« / Die Welt on »Frankenstein«

BITING CRITIQUE OF CAPITALISM AND ARTIFICIAL BEINGS

The motto of the 3rd Hamburg International Music Festival was »Utopia«, and from that concept it's just a stone's throw to the opposite: dystopia. In Brecht's »Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny« and Fritz Lang's classic silent film »Metropolis«, to which the Ensemble Modern played a soundtrack live in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall, social developments are distorted to extremes. Subjects that are more relevant than ever today.

The prototype of all dystopias is still Mary Shelley's »Frankenstein«. To mark the 200th anniversary of this famous novel, Hamburg composer Jan Dvorák gave the premiere of his Frankenstein Gothic opera at the 3rd Hamburg International Music Festival.

Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein

Standing ovations at the end of a three-hour concert and the bitter, deeply pessimistic realisation that reality has long since overtaken the 1930 story about uncontrolled capitalism and its dreadful consequences.

Die Welt über »Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny« / Die Welt on »Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny«

Video-Rückblick: 3. Internationales Musikfest Hamburg

Skulptur 3. Internationales Musikfest Hamburg

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