Established in 1921, the Donaueschingen Festival is the world's oldest festival for New Music and the most renowned of its kind in Germany. The festival has hosted the world premieres of many famous composers of the 20th century. Every October audiences can look forward to a wide selection of today's musical avant-garde.
New Music is constantly subjected to transformation. Composers react to current events and address social, societal and technical developments in their works. This was reflected in this year’s programme of the Donaueschingen Festival. The concerts, discussions and sound installations at the 2018 music festival highlighted such themes as robotics, filter bubbles and public authority.
Orchestra in the filter bubble
In the opening concert, Malin Bång examined how an orchestra hangs in delicate balance and investigates how a select few can influence and manipulate the opinion of many. Ivan Feldele’s “Air on air” focused on the act of breathing in musical performance and how sounds are produced and fade away. Marco Stroppa’s concerto for electronics and orchestra was a tender declaration of love to the creatures of nature. In the world premiere of “Mouhanad”, Isabel Mundry set an interview with a refugee to music, illustrating how personal details can suddenly become political.
Composing current events
Current events also played a central role in Mundry’s second world premiere in Donaueschingen. In “Hey!” she addressed the 2016 shooting in Munich and explores the relationship between the perpetrator and the victims. In its performance of Enno Poppe’s world premiere “Rundfunk für neun Synthesizer” (Radio for Nine Synthesizers), the SWR Experimentalstudio reviewed the history of electronic music and historical sounds – from Piganino to FM synthesis. The piece “Thinking Things” for four performers, robotic extensions, video, lighting and electronics shed light on what we give up when we leave things to robots, and to what extent we can recognise the difference between humans and machines. “Thinking Things” is the final part of Georges Aperghis’s machine trilogy following “Machinations” and “Luna Park”.
Connections in music
Visitors of the Donaueschingen Festival could experienced sound sculptures and installations in museums, gymnasiums, vaulted cellars, and at the Alte Hofbibliothek, the Fischhaus, and Alte Molkerei. At this year’s “Thema Musik Live” event, the composer Isabel Mundry, manager Hervé Boutry, and general director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart Viktor Schoner, discussed the significance of “Vitamin C – Connections in Musical Life”.
Artistic director: Björn Gottstein