Beethoven’s rural pastoral, Schubert’s “Winter’s Journey”, Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Schumann’s Spring Symphony – nature and environment have fascinated composers for centuries. “The theme of nature has always been present in music. But what is new is that there are a number of artists who are very interested in the issue of climate and who, in one way or another, incorporate it into their music allowing the programming to flow,” says Christoph Lieben-Sutter, General Manager of Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle This year’s theme is “Nature”.
Nature and the environment are powerful themes in classical music
Climate change is a major topic this year A music festival begins with great fanfare: with Joseph Haydn’s “Creation” oration. “That was on Alan Gilbert’s wish list,” says Lieben-Sutter. Along with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, NDR Vocal Enemble and international vocal soloists, Gilbert will perform The Creation of the World in the manner of Haydn. Then Gustav Mahler III will perform The symphony, about which the composer himself says that all nature has a sound in it.” In terms of compositional history, Mahler’s third film is closely related to nature. Lieben-Sutter said he was composed in nature and incorporated themes from nature.
Stars of the classic scene and new discoveries
With the cycle of Ernst Krink’s song “Diary of Traveling Through the Austrian Alps” and Jan Sibelius’ symphonies telling about Finnish forests, meadows and lakes, the nature theme runs like a red thread through the entire music festival. Operas also fit into the motto: Antonin Dvushak’s opera “Rusalka”, which tells about mermaids and water spirits, and Karl Maria von Weber’s opera “Freischütz”, set in the German forest.
In addition to the many stars from the classical music scene such as Igor Levitt, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Anders Nilssons, artistic director Christoph Lieben-Sutter is also looking forward to new discoveries: “For example, the American composer and singer Caroline Shaw, who is not yet known here, but who is Already a big star in America.”
The Elbphilharmonie shines in a new light
The music festival is held not only indoors, but also outside. With their light project “Breaking Waves,” the artist duo Drift will allow the Elbphilharmonie’s outdoor space to shine in a new light every evening through May 1. “With a light installation that symbolizes a little what the Elbphilharmonie is about, like the music that radiates from the building to the outside. In addition, hundreds of drones will hover around the building and make shapes. The appropriate music can be found on the Elbphilharmonie’s website.
An island of calm in difficult times
The music festival also reacts to the current world situation – the Ukraine war also plays a role: “We have already given many useful concerts.” And so the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra will perform next Sunday at the Elbphilharmonie. “This will certainly be a very moving moment, because many of our sponsors also take care of Ukrainian refugees and have invited hundreds of them to the concert.
Climate change, the Corona epidemic, the war in Ukraine – for Christoph Lieben-Sutter, Musikfest concerts can offer audiences an island of calm in difficult times and also strength and inspiration: “It can be an emotional journey, especially in times like these, when we feel insecure. For various reasons. Sometimes you need a two-hour break. And if you treat it regularly, you can get away from it a little bit and step into another world, no matter if you listen to focus music or let your mind wander, it’s almost therapeutic.”