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Concepts for concerts

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But if an interpretation equals a translation of something originating way in the past to modern times, so do the means of expression. It is a natural and necessary desire of every artist to break barriers and find new possibilities to stimulate his audience. For those who are ready to cover new ground, we have a few ideas to offer.

The easiest and most obvious way to attract new listeners is to give the modern woman or man what he or she knows from the radio and to delve into different genres: Playing classically arranged Pop-Rock-pieces for example. The Finish band Apocalyptica has even managed to generate a hole career by specialising in String Quartett versions of Metallica-tracks. So have others and this is the main problem: It's been done before and the knack is to find a piece that really fits this approach. Do we have a proposition? Yes: "Cloudburst flight" by German Electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream would be tremendous as a chamber music piece with harpsichord and flute. Better though, we feel, is to simply broaden the underlying repertoire: Lang Lang extended into asian music on his latest CD and the "Trio di Clarone" offers an even more ecclectic mix to astounding success.

Many problems with classical music, a second theory goes, have to do with educational deficits. So an idea would be to build a moderated show around the music, explaining what is played, pointing at similarities and differences. Enter Nadine Schuster, a German pianist at the brink of breakthrough. The enjoyment of music, she feels, has to do substantially with its understanding. Her program "Tanz durch die Jahrhunderte" ("Dancing through the ages") combines a Bach-partita, Ravels "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" and Chopin walses, as well as explaining historical links and reading passages from letters. In July, she recorded a children's special for the Bavarian Broadcast with a similar goal. Far from trying to act like an ersatz-teacher, she aims not merely at knowledge, but at a direct emotional impact. In a fascinating interview with the weekly "Die Zeit" Gerard Mortier proposes merging parts from different Mozart operas under the banner of "the different faces of love". Which brings us to the third option: Thematical linking. This is a good idea. For one, it enables the artist to become creative on a programmatic level. As long as his choices make sense to the audience, he has an incredible freedom, which can be inspiring to him and his listeners. Secondly, it is becoming a fashion in recording as well and people are warming up to it. Helene Grimauds "Credo" is a wonderful example of an album bringing together the most diverse music under a single roof.

Working together with young composers and premiering their compositions is another way to make an impact on the concert circuit. There are numerous talented composers at every university, desperately trying to find ensembles who will play their music and witnessing with despair the mere repetition of standard repertoire. Not to at least contact them would be a sin. And should you think that no one wants to listen to "nobodys": Remember the Arditti Quartett?

While we are at it: Remember Matt Haimovitz? The former Wunderkind and now 34-year old cellist surprised everyone with a tour that led him to play Bach in barns and sheds. There were no cows, but for the rest it was pretty rual none the less. Rock clubs are also part of the deal. Far from a cheap joke, there is a simple reason for Haimovitz' unusual locations: breaking down the barrier between him and the audience. It seems to
be working.

Finally, lets go all the way and change the concert at it its very root! "Communication", says Nadine Schuster, "requires open mindedness towards new forms, open mindedness towards other disciplines, open mindedness towards oneself." Arnon Zlotnik, an Israeli singer and dancer, knows exactly what she is talking about. In his vison, different art forms come together to create a totally new experience, something fresh. His experience in the famous "Bathsheva Dance Company" and his admiration for Alain Platel have motivated him to go and try integrating dance, video screenings, drawings and statues. If that should prove too much for you to handle, Frederike Saeys, a promising violinist, has an easier idea: "Why not use coloured lights to illustrate the different moods of Messiaens synaesthetic compositions". Indeed - why not?

So what do you tell those that feel these approaches are taking away the music from the place and the way it should be presented? Easy. You tell them:

a) (pessimistically) that there might soon be no concerts left at all if classical music continues to present itself too conservatively,

b) (intelligently, wittingly) that this not taking away a layer of interpretation from the listener, but merely adding one on the side of the artist,

c) (somewhat provokingly) that the present concert situation is in itself already not "true" to the way most pieces we re originally intended. To quote Arnon Zlotnik: "You should use more than you got used to." However you look at it: It might no longer simply be enough to just sing or play.

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