Today, many people agree that classical music needs to become more diverse. But how should musical cultures meet? Selected concerts of the 2023 Musikfestival approached such questions from strongly varying angles.
They are united by a common aspiration: When individuals or ensembles venture into foreign cultural lands or collaborate with colleagues of other ethnicities, they do so not out of a tourist curiosity, but on the basis of thorough historical knowledge.
György Ligeti, the Hungarian born a hundred years ago, was a virtuoso of appropriating conceivably remote rhythmic and harmonic models from regions such as the Balkans, South America, and Africa. His strict structural thinking saved him from superficial folklorisms: Ligeti was not interested in effects or striking color accents, but in the richest possible sources of genuine complexity. With "Ligeti 100", the composer was honored for his 100th birthday.
Abel Selaocoe, the South African-born cellist, singer, music inventor and gifted communicator, ventures into borderless fusion. With great naturalness he moves between classical and African music. In Manchester, he has gathered around him a collective of inspired individuals of diverse socialization. In their concert, music full of unexpected resonances and pulses emerged.
Apollo's Fire, the great early music formation from Cleveland, took their concert on a journey from Jerusalem to Italy to Africa, exploring the experiences of diaspora, displacement and exile.
The Franui Musicbanda from East Tyrol took the opposite path with their programme "Strg F Volksmusik": The musical manuscripts of the Central European masters Johannes Brahms, Anton Bruckner, Béla Bartók and others were examined for their rural sources – in the pub, in the brothel or with the farmers in the village.
Finally, pianist Markus Becker has perfected a no less sophisticated form of transcultural approach. A specialist in composers such as Joseph Haydn and Max Reger, he is an exceptionally inspired jazz improviser. With a light hand, he repeatedly draws motifs from Ludwig van Beethoven and other masters of classical music into the maelstrom of swinging associations alongside his own ideas.