Big applause for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which filled the Kaiser’s Palace at the Residenzschloss with its rich sounds at the Würzburg Mozart Festival. The musicians, led by Andrew Manzi, played in a full house. Würzburg Mayor Christian Schuchart opened the opening ceremony “Finally free from Corona again.” The motto of the festival is “All in One – Free Spirit”. Logo is unexpectedly more objective than originally thought and goes beyond the musical aspects.
Full House for the Opening Ceremony: The Staircase in the World Heritage Site of Residence Würzburg
“The Ukrainian war and horrific world events have made the free spirit incredibly topical,” festival director Evelyn Minning told DW. “We now have a major communication issue and we will not only talk about what the free spirit of Mozart means, but also what constitutes freedom in artistic creation.” You quickly get to the conditions in which artists can develop freely or not, for example in dictatorships and under censorship. “The topic opens up on societal issues right up to the issue of human rights,” Mayning says.
Determines Mozart’s openness to the program
For artistic director Evelyn Menning, an examination of the concept of freedom begins musically with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The classical composer repeatedly pushed musical boundaries and wrote complex, multi-layered works that were ahead of their time, such as the concerto for orchestra at No. 23 major, which opened the festival.
Director Evelyn Minning invites you to free classical music from conventions
“Mozart was a free spirit, a progressive artist who did not abide by convention,” says Evelyn Minning. One should not forget that in his day Mozart was a contemporary we were excited to see his new works, even if his innovative music had an utterly disturbing effect on some at the time.
The South Korean and Berlin-chosen Seung Jin Cho played the solo part of the piano concerto. He delighted the audience with his dynamic changes between lively and talented clips and calm and restrained tones. In the orchestral part, it was important for British conductor Andrew Manzi to deduce the unusual dissonant passages in this popular and entertaining piece.
Don’t just tolerate dissonance, accept it
Evelyn Meining regrets that dissonances are often played up in Mozart’s music or musicians think are a typo in the score. “There is a lot of innovation in Mozart’s music through inaccuracies, misguided paths, and inconsistencies,” Menning says. “That’s exactly what we want to explore and talk about.”
Even the recording is unusual: quintet for clarinet, accordion, violin, viola and cello by composer Isabel Mondry (right)
There were also unusual and unexpected musical moments at the Mozart Festival with Igor Stravinsky’s “Concerto on Re” for string orchestra or with Symphony No. 91 by Joseph Haydn. British conductor Andrew Manzi says in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “Maybe the whole orchestra was just starting and then suddenly Haydn stopped and the music hung in the air.” Manzi enjoyed these moments and gave the piece a special tension that was brilliantly rewarded by the audience.
Contemporary music by Isabel Mondry
Composer Isabel Mendry was present at rehearsals for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra on its quintet, Traces des Moments from 2000. “They played with incredible precision, I liked them very much, and the colors were great.” It was also important for her to emphasize inconsistencies and exaggerate “what is supposed to be ugly.” A piece that wowed audiences precisely because of the focused quintet playing and always crisp vocals.
Isabelle Mendy sees beauty in complexity
“Many promoters caution, if new music comes out, put it in the beginning so that it plays quickly and the audience can relax afterwards,” Isabel Mendry told DW. Many people have prejudices against contemporary music without even knowing it. “Things are often talked about in a complex way. It’s a matter of things to be involved and allowing that complexity is also part of perception.”
Innovations for the future of classical music
Artistic director Evelyn Minning Mozart sees our times in composers like Isabel Mendiri, who are innovative and open. The festival director says it is important to spark community interest in classical and new music. “In a couple of years, we’ve had an epidemic where classical music doesn’t seem to have a place in our society.” During the lockdown, all events were idle, especially the orchestra and choirs, which were not even able to rehearse. “The circle of those who sympathize with her is clearly very small in society,” Minning says.
New music in the old dorm. Perhaps the singer-songwriter Walther von der Voglweed (Fountain Character) liked her.
Many festivals in Germany are currently thinking about how to break up classical concerts with other formats or other venues that are open to all.
room for ukrainian refugees
For example, one of the projects in Würzburg that deals with a “new hearing” across the border is Mozart’s “pop-up room” in downtown Würzburg. In an empty shop, artists have the opportunity to live out their creativity and love to experiment for a week. The Solidarity Music School Association “Welcome with Music” in Würzburg will also use this room for a week. The music school already has new members from Ukraine who arrived here with their instruments.
“We have now also held a cultural breakfast in this shop, where we invite refugees, especially those who have arrived from Ukraine, and create a meeting place for this special current situation there,” explains Evelyn Meining. Integration, freedom and innovation are especially close at this year’s Würzburg Mozart Festival. The festival runs until June 19.