May 16, 2022
Audiovisual Concert Series of the Philharmonic State Orchestra Now Online
With their Micro-Concerts, Kent Nagano and the Philharmonic took advantage of the time of the pandemic to explore new methods of digital music dissemination and listening. In cooperation with international video artists, a cycle of five audiovisual concert programmes responds to the times of crisis. After being streamed exclusively by Radio France, the videos are now available for online viewing on the channels of the Philharmonic State Orchestra and the Hamburg State Opera.
Classical concert music and video art usually have few points of contact, as visual broadcasts of orchestra concerts usually opt for a documentary format, the camera following the flow of the music, showing performers and instruments. By contrast, in popular music the music video has decades of evolution behind it and has produced its own aesthetic forms. With their Micro-Concerts, Kent Nagano, Georges Delnon and the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra now combine classical music with contemporary video art.
For Kent Nagano, this project was and remains close to his heart and it was a chance to emphasize how important, relevant and necessary music is in times of crisis: “The Micro-Concerts are a kind of musical UFO, not resembling any known project. Each concert transports a message and tells a story showing how deeply music is rooted in society today – a special project, modern in structure and form, that could only have happened during the pandemic. The visualization makes each micro-concert a unique original,” says Kent Nagano.
In five compact concert programmes lasting approximately half an hour, Kent Nagano has combined brief works of music in in thematic blocks corresponding to the phases of the pandemic over the past two years. Georges Delnon chose international video artists to visualise these five programmes: Luis August Krawen, Jonas Englert, Zbig Rybczyński/Dorota Zglobicka, Kamila B. Richter/Michael Bielicky, and Virgil Widrich. “We didn’t want to produce the nth streamed concerts, but offer viewers new images, leaving space for associative imagination,” Georges Delnon, Artistic Director of the Orchestra and Opera, describes the project’s visual concept. Elements including avatars such as an animated Kent Nagano, distorted footage of the orchestra, webcam recordings and “found footage” lend some of the music a completely new horizon, for the listener’s and viewer’s benefit.
25 works, including music by Widmann, Schumann, Beethoven, Bach, Villa-Lobos, Dutilleux and Xenakis, were recorded. Nagano and the Philharmonic are joined by high-carat guests: Klaus Florian Vogt sings Mahler’s Von der Jugend and Katharina Konradi, Jana Kurucová and Georg Nigl interpret Ligeti’s avant-garde Nouvelles aventures. Members of the Hamburg State Opera ensemble, such as Hellen Kwon, Gabriele Rossmanith, Kristina Stanek, Kady Evanyshyn and Bernhard Hansky, sing works by Bartók and Schoenberg, and invited ensembles such as the Harvestehude Chamber Choir and the Rundfunkchor Berlin are heard in pieces by Brahms and Schoenberg.
The Micro-Concerts are available on demand online from May 15 to October 22, 2022
Micro-Concerts – An Overview
Warum? (Why?) (34:14)
Visualisation: Luis August Krawen
Music by Jörg Widmann, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, György Ligeti
Performers: Kent Nagano, Rupert Burleigh, Bernhard Hansky, Volker Krafft, Katharina Konradi, Jana Kurucová, Georg Nigl, Harvestehuder Kammerchor, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Eine neue Welt (A New World) (35:49)
Visualisation: Jonas Englert
Music: Heitor Villa-Lobos, Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Webern, Claude Debussy, Toshio Hosokawa
Performers: Kent Nagano, Rupert Burleigh, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Lieder von der Erde (Songs of the Earth) (26:42)
Visualisation: Zbig Rybczyński & Dorota Zglobicka
Music: Gustav Mahler, Leoš Janáček, Béla Bartók, Arnold Schoenberg
Performers: Kent Nagano, Klaus Florian Vogt, Hellen Kwon, Gabriele Rossmanith, Kristina Stanek, Kady Evanyshyn, Rupert Burleigh, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Zeit & Erinnerung (Time & Memory) (25:51)
Visualisation: Kamila B. Richter & Michael Bielicky
Music: Claude Debussy, Pierre Boulez, Johann Sebastian Bach, Henri Dutilleux, Olivier Messiaen
Performers: Kent Nagano, Manuela Tyllack, Rupert Burleigh, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Freude (Joy) (31:43)
Visualisation: Virgil Widrich
Music: Federico Mompou, Darius Milhaud, Hans Werner Henze, Paul Hindemith, Iannis Xenakis
Performers: Kent Nagano, Rupert Burleigh, Fabian Otten, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Crisis and Renewal
Accompanying the project, the musicologist William Kinderman has written an essay offering insights on the dramaturgical idea behind the Micro-Concerts: “Every crisis offers a possibility for renewal. Our music – an answer to our present times, memory of the past, vision of a possible future – can console or warn us; it can also celebrate our powers of resistance.” Kinderman traces the dramaturgical idea behind the five programmes, describing the “history of questioning, reflection, painful realization, overcoming, and arrival in a restored, but changed new reality”. The complete essay is available on the websites of the Philharmonic State Orchestra and the Hamburg State Opera.
About the Video Artists
Luis August Krawen grew up in Berlin, was a long-time member of P14 at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, and studied applied theatre studies in Gießen. Since then he has been a freelance video artist; in 2020 he was appointed Artist in Residence at the Münchner Kammerspiele. His first collaboration with Georges Delnon and Kent Nagano at the Hamburg State Opera was Pierrot Lunaire / La Voix Humaine in 2020.
Jonas Englert is a German artist. His works are part of the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Ivo Wessel Collection and private collections. Furthermore he created various works in the theatrical context, amongst others at the National Theater Mannheim, the State Playhouse Dresden, the Hannover State Theater, the Theater Bonn and the Berliner Ensemble. Englert is represented by Gallery Anita Beckers and lives in Frankfurt (Main).
Zbig Rybczynski and Dorota Zglobicka are award-winning filmmakers. Zbig Rybczynski has won numerous prestigious awards including an Oscar, Emmy, three MTV awards, a Silver Palm at Cannes. He created music videos for Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono, Lou Reed among others. Dorota Zglobicka has been working with various film forms, from video-art and short films to documentaries featuring critical social issues such as corruption in politics and social injustice.
Kamila B. Richter and Michael Bielicky, born in Czech Republic examine the relationship between reality and simulation, perception and experience, and experiment with data visualization technologies in the spirit of “Infoart.” In their installations they reduce the content of the news industry to recurrent headlines and tags, which they translate into a dynamic pictogram language in order to identify the patterns of information that today seemingly connect us with reality.
Virgil Widrich, born 1967 in Salzburg, works on numerous multimedia and film productions. He is one of the founders and Managing Directors of the multimedia company checkpointmedia GmbH, University Professor of Art & Science at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and owner and Managing Director of Virgil Widrich Film- und Multimediaproduktions G.m.b.H.
Klaus Florian Vogt
Katharina Konradi, Jana Kurucová, Georg Nigl
Hellen Kwon, Gabriele Rossmanith, Kristina Stanek, Kady Evanyshyn
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg