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Heard anew: Lisa Streich

5 questions for the composers featured in the »Elbphilharmonie Visions« New Music festival.

When it comes to classical composers, most people think of old masters such as Beethoven and Mozart. But the »Elbphilharmonie Visions« festival demonstrates that contemporary music can also be »just as rich and diverse as humanity itself« (Alan Gilbert). The festival’s programme features only music by contemporary composers. Not only is that musically very exciting, it also offers an amazing opportunity to ask the composers questions about their works and the process of creating them. How do you go about composing? Do you have a concrete idea of the work before you sit down to write it, or does it emerge only when you start? What role do your surroundings play? And what are your hopes for your music?

How does Lisa Streich sound?

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Lisa Streich
Lisa Streich Lisa Streich © Manu Theobald

How clear is your inner vision of a work before you start composing it?

It is quite distinct in at first but it works as a starting point and is the beginning of a path that leads to something else in dialogue with the music.

What role do non-musical elements play in your creative work?

The extra musical sphere is very important for me but the beauty of music is that my interpretation is not the interpretation of somebody else. Music is abstract and everybody can fill it with their very own content. I believe in a concert hall, where we hear a piece of music, there are hundreds of different interpretations (extra musical sphere) of a piece of music in the listeners, simultaneously triggered by one source. A moment of extreme intimacy in a room of plurality and anonymity. The beauty of a concert situation I believe.

At the »Elbphilharmonie Visions« festival, contemporary orchestral music is programmed more compactly and prominently than in any other concert hall in the world – 18 works by 18 composers performed on nine consecutive evenings. Do you think that’s a good idea, or do you believe that’s the wrong strategy? 

I believe it is an effective way to in a compromised time get a small overview of how different new music can be, depending on geographical background, social background, personal experiences, education…

It shouldn’t substitute a regular exposure of new music though. Me personally I prefer to travel in time between composers of different periods to experience a historical background. But also in a concert of only new music we travel in time and space. Just on a smaller scale.

What does New Music need to win the love of the audience? 

Exposure of new music on a regular basis in all ages, authenticity and wonderful musicians who add their personal interpretation of a work like in a classical piece of music. But, not everybody has to love new music. There is a value in strong reactions in whatever directions they may lead. Love can be sweet and love can be cruel. 

What would be your dream for concert life – today and in the near future? 

My utopian dream would be that concerts are free for everybody to attend. Treated like a basic need. A more realistic dream would be if everybody with no regards to social background can on a regular basis visit live concerts to experience the very personal, magnificent and out of this world gifts music can give. I deeply believe that music can trigger new ideas in everybody on all kind of levels and that’s what’s crucial.

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