Hamburg's new music hall likes (?) what it sees in America

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jbuck919
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Hamburg's new music hall likes (?) what it sees in America

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:57 am

With Politics as Backdrop, Hamburg’s New Hall Looks to America

By CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIMAPRIL 14, 2017
The Venezuelan bass Iván García, center, performing Wednesday in the Transatlantik festival at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times

HAMBURG, Germany — The stage of the Elbphilharmonie here on Wednesday was filled with an assembly of instruments so diverse that it looked more like a social experiment than a musical ensemble.

In the back row, Baroque recorders nestled up to an Afro-Brazilian percussion section. In front of them, a United Nations of string instruments congregated with violas da gamba, vihuelas, a harp and a potbellied kora from Mali, alongside an oud and a violin. The instrument’s masters — and the performances were uniformly masterly — were just as diverse, with singers from Brazil and Mexico, an early-music chorus from Spain, and Malian vocalists weaving their voices together into a scintillating musical tapestry.

The subject of the concert — the opening act in a festival dedicated to trans-Atlantic musical connections — was as harrowing as the sounds were joyful: “The Routes of Slavery” was the title of this evening of music, dance and recited texts designed to illuminate the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the musical cross-pollination it caused. At the center of it, though in typically self-effacing manner, was the Spanish gambist and early-music specialist Jordi Savall.

The Elbphilharmonie’s Transatlantik festival, which runs through Monday and includes presentations of blues, fado and Afro-Cuban jazz, is just one of several themed program clusters that have focused attention on musical experiences of and in the Americas.

Beginning in late March, “New York Stories” brought together performers including the avant-jazz maverick John Zorn, the singer-songwriter Anohni, the electronic-music wizard Tyondai Braxton, the JACK Quartet (presenting works by members of the Bang on a Can collective) and the New York Philharmonic (playing an evening entirely devoted to the music of John Adams). Last fall, when this Herzog & de Meuron-designed waterfront hall had not yet opened its doors and concerts were presented in the storied Laeiszhalle, a group of performances shed light on the experimental school around John Cage. Up ahead in May: a “Maximal Minimal” festival, with generous helpings of Steve Reich.
The concentration of American music comes at a time when the new administration in Washington has many Germans scanning the news from the other side of the ocean with a fresh sense of urgency. And the influx of refugees — Hamburg, a city of roughly 1.8 million, currently shelters some 33,000 — lends a politically charged resonance to themes of migration, exile and cultural exchange.
Photo
The Elbphilharmonie sits atop a former warehouse in the historic Sandtorhafen, Hamburg’s old working harbor. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times

Not all of this was by design, of course. Speaking in his office inside the Elbphilharmonie, the hall’s artistic director, Christoph Lieben-Seutter, said that planning for the opening season began long before current events lent the trans-Atlantic focus contemporary relevance. If anything, that focus was inspired by Hamburg’s past as one of Europe’s principal ports of emigration.

“Inasmuch as there was a plan, you see it here,” Mr. Lieben-Seutter said, gesturing to his view of the river Elbe, teeming with container ships and trawlers. “That way lies west, and that’s where all the ships are heading. Of course, there was the idea to connect some of the themes of the first season to the port and its connection to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Mr. Lieben-Seutter said that while the German public is very open to American music and art, “politically, it’s different.” He added: “There are quite a few America skeptics. But that has changed with the arrival of Trump. In particular, the armchair critics who always find fault with America are suddenly realizing that it is after all important for America to play a leading role in the world.”
As for the Transatlantik festival, Mr. Lieben-Seutter conceded that the concept of highlighting the African roots of New World musical traditions is not new. Still, he said, presenting it at this time is “a small political statement against isolation.”

For now, the runaway success of the Elbphilharmonie — every event this season is sold out, largely because of fascination with the architecture — gives Mr. Lieben-Seutter a rare degree of freedom. “The public is generally skeptical when it comes to contemporary music,” he said. “But from a building like this people expect new experiences. Whenever we have played contemporary music we have had a very positive, focused public.”

For example, he points out that on the New York Philharmonic’s recent tour to Europe, Hamburg was the only stop at which the orchestra felt able to offer its all-Adams program, which it had conceived for its home hall at Lincoln Center.

“Here, it wasn’t just sold out,” Mr. Lieben-Seutter said. “It was a triumph.”

But perhaps the biggest story to come out of the recent American-themed events was the marathon concert devoted to Mr. Zorn’s “Bagatelles.” As the five-hour performance lurched into its final stretch and the city’s public transport system prepared to shut down for the night, listeners finally walked out and local critics reported the sight of something hitherto unknown at the Elbphilharmonie: Empty seats.

Copyright 2017 The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/arts ... nyt-region

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John F
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Re: Hamburg's new music hall likes (?) what it sees in America

Post by John F » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:50 am

John, when you copy and post, could you edit out the captions and links to the graphics etc. not included in what you paste? Such as, "The Venezuelan bass Iván García, center, performing Wednesday in the Transatlantik festival at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times." That would make the story easier to read.
John Francis

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Re: Hamburg's new music hall likes (?) what it sees in America

Post by jserraglio » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:36 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:57 am
With Politics as Backdrop, Hamburg’s New Hall Looks to America
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/14/arts ... nyt-region
Clip from Jordi Savall performance referenced in the article https://vimeo.com/160358677
Thanks for posting this fascinating article. Apparently they also broadcast live on YT.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Urz-SaiqU



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY1mlNuaxZg


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