MaerzMusik Festival

As the international music Festival of the Berliner Festspiele, MaerzMusik not only familiarizes guests with the latest developments in contemporary music, but is also a consistent place of encounter, a much favored rendezvous point for composers, performers, and the public. Presented at the festival between March 20th and 29th will be 10 world premieres and 23 German premieres, with many composers in attendance. Delivering the welcoming address on March 20th at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele will be composer Dieter Schnebel.

The thematic focus on the “American Avant-garde” has succeeded in luring several of the most important representatives of “Minimal und Conceptual music” to Berlin. Composer Ben Johnston – rediscovered to great acclaim in 2008 at the Donaueschinger Musiktage – will attend the German premiere of his String Quartet on March 22nd beneath the glass-roofed courtyard of the Jewish Museum. Steve Reich will be in Berlin to attend a performance of his Drumming (1971) in the Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie on March 25th. His most recent composition Double Sextet will be performed on March 27th at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele – a German first performance and a German debut of the Chicago ensemble eighth blackbird. To conclude this concert, the Curtis Ensemble, among others, will perform a work commissioned by MaerzMusik, a trio for clarinet, tuba and cello by Alvin Lucier. This sound artist – famous for his experimental work in the realm lying between art and science – will be present in Berlin for nearly the duration of the festival, and will participate together with Michael Nyman and Steve Reich in a podium discussion on the topic of The American Avantgarde Revisited on March 25th. Also commissioned to compose a piece for MaerzMusik is Christian Wolff. The son of publisher Kurt Wolff, who emigrated to the US in 1941, Wolff is a central figure in the contemporary music scene in the United States and will be present on March 28th for the world premiere of his For 2 Violinists, Violist and Cellist. Performing at the festival conclusion on Sunday, March 29th at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele will be vocal composer Robert Ashley together with the MAE Ensemble Amsterdam.

An Englishman who has been consistently interested in musical events in the USA is composer Michael Nyman – well-known for his film scores, among them the one for The Piano. On March 26th at the Sonic Arts Lounge, he will present his first collaborative work with Carsten Nicolai (alva noto), pretty talk for george brecht.

Composers from Russia will in attendance present at a concert performance on March 22nd beneath the glass-roofed courtyard of the Jewish Museum: Valentin Silvestrov, Vadim Karassikov, Sergej Newski, Boris Filanovski, and Dmitri Kourliandski. Kourliandski, currently residing in Berlin as a DAAD Fellow, will present altogether five works during the festival, including two world premieres.

“Eurasische Schwellen” (Euroasian Thresholds) is the title of the concert scheduled for March 23rd at Radialsystem V. The Nieuw Ensemble of Amsterdam and MaerzMusik have jointly commissioned four compositions, and will be hence presenting the most recent works by Jamilia Jazylbekova from Kazakhstan, Farangis Nurulla-Khoja from Tadzchikistan, Artjom Kim from Uzbekistan, Tigran Mansurian and Petros Ovsepyan from Armenia. All four will be present at their premieres. And of course, French composer Mark Andre, who lives in Berlin, will be in attendance at the world premiere of his orchestral trilogy …auf…, performed in the Large Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic by Sylvain Cambreling and the SWR Sinfonieorchester. (press release)