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.
The Donaueschingen Festival has presented 20 world premieres and six sound installations from 17 to 20 October 2019. In addition to concerts performed by a symphony orchestra and large ensembles from Paris, Vienna and Hamburg, this year’s festival has showcased musical formats that ventured beyond the classical concert hall, e.g. an arrangement resembling a computer game and a piece performed underwater in a swimming pool.
Sound and space
Simon Steen-Andersen has opened the festival with a performance of his work “TRIO” in which three orchestras – the SWR Symphony Orchestra, the SWR Vocal Ensemble and the SWR Big Band – were merged and confronted with their historical predecessors. In his full-length piece “Poetry of Space”, Alberto Posadas explored how sounds can influence how we perceive the space around us. Ata Ebtekar (alias Sote) created the illusion of an artificial and hyper-realistic Persian culture in his piece “Parallel Persia”. Nina Šenk, Pierre-Yves Macé, Johannes Boris Borowski and Beat Furrer each responded in their own way to the unique sound culture of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. The final concert performed by the SWR Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Tito Ceccherini featured the world premieres of works by the Jordanian composer Saed Haddad, Eva Reiter, Lidia Zielińskas and Jürg Frey.
The self-learning software “curAltor” by Nick Collins had analysed some 100 submitted piano pieces and choosen three which have been performed in concert by Joseph Houston. In the NOWJazz session, the Viennese duo Maja Osojnik and Matija Schellander have improvised with electronic and analogue sound sources, field recordings, beats and the spoken word in dialogue with the experimental video art by Billy Roisz. Christian Lillinger’s “Open Form for Society” was an ensemble project for nine improvising musicians featuring conceptual and sound-aesthetic influences from jazz, pop culture and New Music.
Swimming pool and hotel bar
Public sound art installations are a long-standing feature of the Donaueschingen Festival. In 2019 an especially intensive and sensually vivid listening experience awaited the audience in an underwater performance or while standing at the bar in a piece entitled “Music for Hotel Bars”. At the museum Art.Plus, Angela Bulloch’s drawing apparatus has created paintings when it “heard” music; her “Song Activated Drawing Machine” was set in motion when the music began to play.
The picture featured on this year’s poster depicts the machine at work while listening to “Heavy Metal Hercules” for six bass guitars by Angela Bulloch and Augustin Maurs.
Artistic director: Björn Gottstein