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MaerzMusik – Festival of Contemporary Music

16 to 26 March 2006

MaerzMusik, festival of contemporary music under the roof of Berliner Festspiele, has housed the richly contrasted dialogue between the different currents and positions within the worldwide spectrum of contemporary music for five years. Two complex and closely linked subjects will make up the thematic strands of its closely woven 2006 programme of 30 projects, including a number of first performances, commissioned works, German first performances, four new musical theatre productions, four orchestral works, chamber concerts, solo recitals, exhibitions, intermedia performances, and SONIC ARTS LOUNGE.

INTERKULTURALITY, as a phenomenon of increasing significance in present-day music and art, will be highlighted from different musical as well as critical perspectives; JAPAN AND THE WEST sets out to explore interaction and analogies between European-American and Japanese music.

Whereas in Japan, after centuries of isolation, Western music was quickly adopted as the predominant ideal in musical education and practice during the Meiji restoration from 1868, Western musicians have only very gradually embraced Japanese influences. Even today, few Western listeners are familiar with Japanese music; recently, however, interest has been growing visibly. MaerzMusik will present mutual, if often fragmented, influences as well as parallel developments: the BSO (Berlin Symphonic Orchestra) concert will juxtapose works by Toshio Hosokawa and Atsuhiko Gondai with a piece by Hans Zender. Schreiben, a piece composed for Tokyo by Helmut Lachenmann, will see its first Berlin performance by SWR-Orchester, Freiburg. Aki Takahashi, as “pianist-in-residence” will contrast John Cage, Morton Feldman, Giacinto Scelsi and Rolf Julius with Toru Takemitsu, Akira Nishimura and Somei Satoh. Quatuor Bozzini from Montreal will perform alongside Jo Kondo, James Tenney and Chiyoko Slavnics. Ictus from Brussels will present Misato Mochizuki, Oliver Schneller and Yan Maresz, while ensemble_online vienna will confront traditional music for shakuhachi and sho with works by Western composers employing Japanese instruments. In her MUSIC THEATRE, Makiko Nishikaze will take up the figure of Maria Magdalena, while the ‘sound theatre’ by Peter Eötvös is based on the diary of a Japanese court lady from 1008.

MaerzMusik will also present the intercultural ISCM workshop Global Interplay with instructors and students from five continents. Cong Su and film director Chen Shi-Zheng, both of Chinese origin but long living in the West, will set to music poems by “obscure” Chinese poet Gu Cheng. A precious rarity to witness will be the first complete performance of the Ragas from Cage’s Songbooks by Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni. INTERKULTURALITY, however, does not only stand for the mutual relations between geographically defined cultural realms but also for an exchange between socio-cultural spheres within society. The project der plan: soundalikes with the legendary band Der Plan will pose the critical question of original and adaptation in a highly original, subversive and technologically advanced way. The Finnish electronic duo Pan Sonic will, together with the ensemble Alter Ego from Rome, deal with pieces by young composers which in turn are based on musical material by Pan Sonic. Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai, two of the most renowned artist in the field of technical media, will present their most recent audio-visual works. In trans-sister radio, Terre Thaemlitz and Japanese transgender artist Saki will conduct an exciting intercultural-intermedial discourse. Otomo Yoshihide and his New Jazz Orchestra will deal with popular Japanese TV music from the 1960s. The closing concert with DSO will present film music by Toru Takemitsu, who is not only Japan’s most famous composer but also a fervent cineast and has written the music for close to 100 films.

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