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Beethoven 200th anniversary year: Bonn’s Music Director Kaftan presents new concert season

Beethoven 200th anniversary year : Bonn’s Music Director Kaftan presents new concert season

Bonn's General Music Director Dirk Kaftan presented the new concert season for the Beethoven Orchestra, scheduled to start in September. Some star performers are included in the new season, which will go on despite the corona pandemic. Here is an overview.

The Beethoven Orchestra and the organizing committee of the Beethoven 200th Anniversary wanted to connect the two Beethoven cities of Bonn and Vienna, launching last spring the Musikfracher, a floating music studio on a barge. It has since become a symbol for Bonn’s General Music Director Dirk Kaftan in two respects: It was intended to stand for the energy that would emanate from Bonn in the Beethoven anniversary year and then, because of the corona pandemic, it literally ran aground at the Bonn pier. And with it went most of the activities for the Beethoven anniversary year. Instead of carrying Beethoven out into the world, the musicians had to accept “Kurzarbeit” (reduced working hours). "We were slowed down completely," said Kaftan on Thursday in the foyer of the Bonn Opera House during the presentation of the new season, which begins in September.

Even the unusually late date for the season presentation indicates that the ongoing corona crisis will determine the planning in many ways. "We will offer 'hybrid concerts'," Kaftan said. The performances will be tailored so that they "can be played large and small". It will be interesting to see the size of the orchestra when it plays Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 on September 11 at the season opening, just one of many concerts scheduled.

Over the past weeks and months, musicians and singers from the orchestra and the opera have tried out and offered numerous mini-concert formats. They have attracted interest through their engagement both culturally and socially, and using digital channels. "I got to know the musicians and singers in a completely new way during this time," said Kaftan. Birgit Schneider Bönninger, Head of the Department of Culture, also thanked the musicians for their commitment.

Kaftan wants to harness this energy for the new season, which will feature a total of 67 concerts in the usual series and formats, ranging from the Friday concert and the "Im Spiegel" matinees to the "Grenzenlos" and "Vor Ort" concerts. The challenge: to look pragmatically at what works, and still realize artistic visions. Or, to put it another way: staying with both feet on the ground and still reaching for the sky.

Concerts in the opera for 300 guests

Very pragmatic, for example, is the adherence to the hygiene rules, which require, among other things, concerts without a break and safe distances on stage and in the audience. In the opera house, 300 guests per performance are to be distributed among the approximate 1,000 seats. This is why some concerts will also be performed twice.

The opening concert on September 11th, for example, will be performed again a week later. Part of the concept is also that season tickets will be put on hold for the next season. "However, season ticket holders will receive the usual discount on individual tickets," said orchestra director Michael Horn. Advance sales for the concerts begin four weeks before the concerts. Artistically and organizationally, the planning is structured so that it can react flexibly to developments in the pandemic.

American record producer and artist Quincy Jones to come to Bonn

That is why one has not lost sight of artistic visions and why Kaftan wants to resume the interrupted celebration of the Beethoven anniversary. "This year in Bonn, only Beethoven's Fifth Symphony could be heard," he said. As a result, the new series "Beethoven pure" has been developed, in which the nine symphonies will be performed starting on September 12. The instrumentation will depend on the possibilities permitted by the virus and could range from chamber music to full orchestra with choir. The venue will be the Telekom headquarters.

On December 16, the final concert of the Beethoven Anniversary Year 2020 is scheduled to take place. "Only nobody believes that we will play in front of 6,000 spectators", said Kaftan. A smaller format is now planned for the Telekom Dome, including premieres of works by Max Richter, whose music style is the meeting of contemporary classical and alternative pop (German-born British composer) and American record producer and music artist Quincy Jones. For Kaftan it is important to present something that appeals to everyone. The "Beethoven Lounges" in the Pantheon and the multimedia concert "X-Rayed", in which the gifted musician Gerard McBurney illuminates Beethoven's "Seventh", are also among the highlights of the re-started Beethoven Anniversary Year.

In the series of Friday concerts, top soloists and guest conductors will also provide musical delights. Kaftan announced violinist Christian Tetzlaff, who will perform Beethoven's violin concerto on October 23/30. The conductor Neeme Järvi, father of Paavo and Kristian Järvi, will conduct Johannes Brahms' German Requiem on April 2, 2021.

In the "vor Ort" series, the orchestra continues its search for the music which was played in Bonn at the time of Ludwig van Beethoven. Also "Grenzenlos" and "Um Elf" at the university will be continued. Of particular note in the university series is the concert on November 29th, entitled "Ruinen", which presents Beethoven's drama score to August von Kotzebues "The Ruins of Athens" with a new text by Feridun Zaimoglu. "This is to be the beginning of a series of human rights concerts," said orchestral dramaturge Tilmann Böttcher in connection with press conference. This is also a vision.

Detailed information on corona-related changes and new features in the annual brochure can be found on the orchestra's homepage: www.beethoven-orchester.de

Orig. text: Bernhard Hartmann

Translation: ck