We start again!
the new, updated programme of the musica viva 2020/21 jubillee season
Dear friends of musica viva,
the covid pandemic will doubtless mark an epoch-making breach not only in human history but in the history of music. A backward glance reveals that many compositions originated in times of pandemics, plague, cholera or, in the 20th century, AIDS. But surprisingly, the health crises of the past have rarely been discussed by music historians, if mentioned at all. One reason may be that pestilences were once taken for granted as a constant phenomenon in European societies. The current protective and defensive measures in our public life are intended not only to cultivate trust, but to prevent the outbreak of those historical crises about which we know so much from the historical record. A knowledge of them can help us master our present situation for the benefit of our social life – and for the benefit of art and culture.
Nonetheless, protective measures such as face masks and social distancing strike at the core of the performing arts, which inevitably involve ensembles. The most severely affected of all is music, where musicians join forces to create art for us listeners from the virtuosic sculpting of time. That is why performers sit and stand close together, to ignite the high-precision pyrotechnics of these temporal sculptures. Each ensemble member is a hub of broadcasting and reception at once. The very term ‘ensemble’, taken from the French, contains the Latin words simul, meaning ‘together, at the same time’, and similis, meaning ‘resembling each other’, for example, through a shared interest. In its barest essentials, then, music is an ensemble art of simultaneity and synchronicity, and musicians are virtuosos in both spheres. That is why music ensembles are so vulnerable to the distancing regulations of the pandemic: the ensemble must not be atomised.
With all the energy at its command, the magnificent Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra confronts the challenge of overcoming distances of all kinds (except social distancing) and making us forget the restrictions under which concerts now have to take place. Distances of at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) must be maintained both in the auditorium and on stage. In Munich’s Hercules Hall and Prince Regent’s Theatre we are allowed to play on stage with roughly 25 musicians, depending on their instruments and placement, and to welcome 200 listeners into the hall. Generally speaking, concerts will last some 60 to 90 minutes without an intermission. This defines what is called a ‘concert format’.
We at musica viva have tailored our programmes to fit this format for the start of the 2020-21 season and the concerts in October and November.
Prince Regent’s Theatre, 26-27 September 2020
The guest performance of Ensemble Modern Orchestra, playing Heiner Goebbel’s new work A House of Call, has been postponed to 30 September 2021. Instead the BRSO, conducted by Franck Ollu, will present Wolfgang Rihm’s Jagden und Formen, an hour-long work radically developed from the idea of ensemble playing. This piece, which now numbers among the challenging masterworks of our time, will receive its Munich première. Preceding it will be another new work by Wolfgang Rihm, Stabat Mater, a 20-minute duet for viola and baritone performed by Tabea Zimmermann and Christian Gerhaher, again for the first time in Munich (a few days earlier, on 23 September, it will receive its world première in the Berlin Philharmonie during the Berlin Festival). The programme in Prince Regent’s Theatre will be offered twice, on 26 and 27 September.
Hercules Hall, Munich Residence, 2 October 2020
The original October programme of 2 October has given way to two concerts on the same day, each with a different programme. The first, with the BRSO, will begin at 6 pm, the second at 9 pm. In the first concert Yann Robin’s raucous Art of Metal, with contrabass clarinettist Alain Billard as soloist, will be followed by Morton Feldmann’s meditative The Viola in My Life, played by Antoine Tamestit and six BRSO musicians. The concert will end with Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus, a 40-minute ensemble piece by the Australian composer Liza Lim dealing with our behaviour toward the environment.
In the 9 pm concert Antoine Tamestit will be heard a second time. He will play Luciano Berio’s beautiful and nostalgic Naturale for unaccompanied viola, alternating with the pre-recorded voice of a Sicilian orange vendor and accompanied by isolated percussion sounds. Naturale will be framed by two very forceful ensemble pieces by Giacinto Scelsi and Iannis Xenakis. Both October concerts will be conducted by Peter Rundel.
Hercules Hall, Munich Residence, 6 November 2020
The original November programme of 6 November will be replaced by two concerts with the BRSO, given on the same day but with different programmes.
The first concert will start at 6 pm and will feature Noli me tangere, a work for solo percussion and ensemble written this year by Isabel Mundry. The soloist will be Dirk Rothbrust, the percussionist of Ensemble MusikFabrik and a duo partner of Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Then Ilya Gringolts will give the first performance of Bernhard Lang’s violin concerto REDUX, in an ensemble version specially conceived by the composer for the Munich première.
The 9 pm concert will present Constellation, a work for four horns, timpani, percussion and strings by the Munich-based composer Minas Borboudakis. Frank Reinecke will play a contrabass version of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s solo piece In Freundschaft. The evening will end with Gérard Grisey’s cycle Vortex Temporum, played by musicians from the BRSO. Its three movements take up the notions of time among human beings, their language and respiration, the time of whales, spectral time and the rhythms of sleep, and finally, in movement 3, the time of birds and the extremely compressed time in which shapes lose their contours. Both November concerts will be conducted by Johannes Kallitzke.
The November performance of Vortex Temporum replaces the performance originally scheduled for April 2021. As far as possible, all premières announced for October and November will be postponed to the coming seasons.
We very much hope to retain the programmes originally announced for the second half of the 2020-21 season. Here too, however, we have developed alternative programmes and will keep you informed in good time as to how the season will progress.
Tickets for all musica viva concerts in September, October and November are offered at a uniform price of EUR 15 per event.
We wish to thank you for the patience you have shown while we redesign our concerts. We also hope that the new programmes will whet your interest, and look forward to welcoming you to our upcoming musica viva events with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Artistic Director, musica viva