Contemporary Music from Germany – Current Trends

Play On! Four Years of the New Music Network

NNM / Bernd UhligMark André, lunch & after work concert,, Berlin in june 2011, photo by NNM / Bernd UhligIt was a project of the Federal Cultural Foundation with signal character. On schedule, at the turn of the year, the New Music Network drew a line under four eventful years. And the summing up is positive on all sides.

“New Music? Very interesting: at all events. And in any case, crazy.” Such was the terse statement of a passer-by who found himself confronted at the Berlin Central Station by unfamiliar sounds. In August 2010, the “Sound Train” (Klangzug) of the “sounding D” project (“D” as in Deutschland) made a stop there. Music underway and music on the spot: with sounding D, the New Music Network undertook to document the vitality and diversity of contemporary music in Germany.

Sounding D, Carsten Hennig: 'map' for 2 choirs, with members of the choir of the Sächsische Staatsoper, directed by Pablo Assante, central station of Dresden, in august 2010, photo by NNM / Astrid KargerFor two weeks, a special musical train drove a distance of 3,375 kilometers through Germany: after the start in Dresden, there followed stops in Berlin, Hamburg, Kiel, Oldenburg, Göttingen, Essen, Moers, Köln, Neuwied, Mainz, Saarbrücken, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Augsburg and Passau – cities in which the Network was active with its projects. On the day the train passed through, events with New Music took place; in promenade concerts, on walks with sounds, in sounding rooms and buildings, at music festivals and at concerts, visitors could experience the most various forms and formats of contemporary music.

Culture on the spot

Sounding D, Salvatore Sciarrino: 'Studi per L'intonazione del mare (2000)', soloists, amateur flute and saxophone players, KNM Berlin, directed by Roland Kluttig, Academy of Arts at Pariser Platz, Berlin in august 2010, photo by NNM / Roland OwsnitzkiSounding D launched the last year of the New Music Network Project. Now, on 31.12.2011, the Network has ended on schedule the funding of its 15 projects and been able to draw up a positive assessment of its work. Over a period of four years the Network tested innovative forms of music promotion and crossed boundaries in the perception of New Music. All in all, over 3,100 events took place with more than 300,000 visitors. All projects were designed to have an enduring effect in their region and to continue beyond the funding period so as to ensure a lasting anchorage for New Music in the cultural life of the respective cities and regions.

Daniel Smutny's chamber opera 'Ferne Nähe', Festival Tonlagen 2011, European Centre of Arts, Dresden Hellerau in october 2011, photo by NNM / Klaus GiggaThis goal was achieved: thanks to the matching-funds principle, the Network projects were able to raise 12 million euros of co-financing and additional project resources and so double their funding from the Federal Cultural Foundation by another 12 million euros. Moreover, twelve of the fifteen Network projects will now continue their work. Seven of these will receive a new funding, mainly in the form of joint financing from municipal and state funds and private foundations, and so are better equipped than before the New Music Network projects: MORE MUSIC! Augsburg, chiffren Kiel, ON – Neue Musik Cologne, mehrklang Freiburg, Musik 21 Lower Saxony, klangpol Oldenburg and Spektrum Villa Musica Rhineland-Palatinate.

Meet the composer - Wolfgang Rihm, Philharmonie Essen in february 2009, photo by NNM / Sven LorenzA further five Network projects will increasingly use their own resources so as to pursue their initiatives: KlangNetz Dresden, Plattform Neue Musik Ruhr - Entdeckungen Essen, Netzwerk Improvisierte Musik Moers, Netzwerk Süd Stuttgart/Region and Netzwerk Musik Saar. For the remaining three projects from Berlin, Hamburg and Passau, funding has not been secured, so they will take a rest now that the Network has come to an end.

Base station and launch pad

Workshop at the school music festival 'klong', Freiburg in july 2010, photo by NNM / Carmen BrehmIn addition to these “measurable” facts, there are intangible after-effects that could continue to make the Network a model for success: the effects and synergies that have been built up in four years, the network of structures and links between institutions and the independent scene, between ensembles and individual musicians, between professionals and amateurs. And of course the after-effects in the experience of the audience that came into touch with New Music in the Network projects. “What will remain”, says Bojan Budisavljević, the Artistic Director of Network, “will be the fruits borne by the developed or improved structures, and the impressions that have stuck in people’s minds and between their ears, and it will sometimes have its effect much later, when children have become adults. At any rate, the networks have laid the foundations”.

Prepared piano with screws for John Cage's 'Second Construction', Oldenburgisches Staatstheater in may 2011, photo by NNM / klangpolMusic underway and music on the spot: the New Music Network was launched in 2008 to document the vitality and diversity of contemporary music in Germany. Within the context of its many events and educational projects, it had a very broad conception of what contemporary artistic music can be – ranging from the beginnings of the New Music to the works of the latest generation of composers, from the traditional concert situation to theatrical works or installations, from school projects to orchestra soirées. Now it is a matter of keeping the goal in mind and, even more important, setting new ones. “What remains”, sums up Budisavljević, “is an echo. It too will eventually pass – unless it’s caught up and a new tone is struck. The opportunities to do this, for both collectives and individuals, are present in the structures and networks in abundance. So play on!”

Dr. Michael Rebhahn
lives as freelance music journalist and curator in Frankfurt/Main and works for Deutschlandradio Kultur, hr2-kultur und WDR3 among others.

Translation: Jonathan Uhlaner
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
January 2012

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