Ab März geht Fensadense, die zweite Produktion von Young Performance, auf Schweiz-Tournee: nach Baden, Bern, Biel, Solothurn, Thun und Winterthur. Der Tubist Jack Adler-McKean, mehrfacher Teilnehmer an der LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, ist einer der zehn jungen Instrumentalisten, die bei Fensadense auf der Bühne stehen – und berichtet über dieses und andere innovative Projekte, die LUCERNE FESTIVAL YOUNG gemeinsam mit ausgewählten Alumni der Academy entwickelt.
Classical music is a dying art form. So goes the old cliché, old enough to render it almost meaningless, but it is undeniable that the average age of concert-goers is steadily increasing, and classical musicians worldwide are in agreement that this is a situation which urgently needs to be addressed. Members of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI are on the case, not only across the world in their own projects over the last decade, but in recent years also back in Lucerne, creating new ways of communicating with the next generation of audiences. Young Performance is a core component of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL YOUNG series which encourages young audiences to come and discover classical music for the first time. An initial run of three projects under financial support from Zurich Insurance has brought six to ten members of LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI back to Lucerne three times over the course of a year to curate, perform and tour with a show for eight- to fourteen-year-olds that they have created in collaboration with internationally renowned composers, directors, choreographers and dancers. Johannes Fuchs, Director of LUCERNE FESTIVAL YOUNG, believes that young audiences deserve the same high levels of performance that the LUCERNE FESTIVAL is famous for, but that a new level of training is therefore also required.
New formats such as ‘staged concerts’ have been created as interest slowly grows in performances specifically for young people, but they involve many elements that are not regularly taught as part of a classical musical curriculum at a university or conservatoire. Existing orchestras and ensembles do not have the conditions to develop new formats, with the rehearsal time and motivation required to create real engagement often found lacking, so the LUCERNE FESTIVAL provides a platform where ideas can be developed and presented by ‘postgraduates’ of the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY together with experts in other artistic fields: a meeting place for new ideas and their professional realization. We aim to create a lively, playful and powerful musical experience for young audiences who are not used to listening to classical or contemporary music by finding artists who share in this vision and are willing to create a unique show that is also fun!
The series began in 2014/15 with HEROÏCA, the story of a group of heroes and their adventures, featuring music from Bach to Berio. For Kevin Austin (trombone, Academy participant in 2013), it involved a daunting and at times uncertain but ultimately highly rewarding creative process.
With a fantastic crew of other LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY alumni, I knew we had the ability to create something great and I could trust everyone to bring something unique to the table. The rehearsal process wasn’t always easy, especially when it soon became clear we’d be tasked to work as a team to create some crazy show with no script, music or traditional usage of our musical training, but now I can only laugh at my initial doubts. I am extremely proud to have been part of such an artistically rewarding project with some of the hardest working and clever people, who highlighted the best of what the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY has to offer.
The show won the Junge Ohren Preis in 2014, and the group have since launched themselves as an independent touring company, but getting classically trained musicians to step out of their comfort zones can often be a struggle. According to Shila Anariki however, choreographer for the 2015/16 production Fensadense, this is not a problem when working with members of LUCERNE FESTIVAL ALUMNI.
What is so great about the alumni I worked with is that they are great musicians and strong individuals which are complementary to their instrument rather than players which are melted with their instrument. That made the work with them very exciting for me. I am delighted to have been put together with this specific group of people, people full of energy and a fresh and sparkling attitude. The eyes can open the ears and the ears can open the eyes, and not only for young audiences. This kind of work can introduce classical music to children, but more than that it introduces itself to its audience, not as a hybrid between performance/physical work and music but with an interest and value in itself.
Director of the MIT Media Lab and composer-in-residence for the 2015 Summer Festival Tod Machover created the musical concept for this production, developing a new generation of hyperinstruments alongside his MIT colleagues Ben Bloomberg, Peter Torpey, and Garrett Parrish. Their collective technological wizardry and the electronically enhanced sound world that resulted added a whole new layer to the creative process, in order to create what Machover calls the “concert of the future”.
Working on Fensadense was one of the most exhilarating – and also most difficult – creative projects I have ever undertaken. No part of the project could exist without the others, and the back-and-forth really changed the nature of the piece. I wrote music that was often morphed and mutated by the players, so they could personalize it and also make it playable without conductor and during movement. My musical ideas were constantly changing according to how each step of new technology developed, and as some things proved more difficult – while others proved easier – to accomplish. These various layers developed sometimes together, sometimes apart, and the full piece did not take shape until the final days of rehearsal, but the result has a freshness, an immediacy, and a power that I have rarely experienced. This creation of experiences which are substantial but also direct, surprising but not flippant, prepared but also spontaneous, and serious but also humorous is what a “concert of the future” should all be about.
Looking to the more immediate future, selected alumni will realize a project which isn’t part of the Young Performance series, but a collaboration with the BUNDESJUGENDBALLETT (National Youth Ballet) based upon Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince. One of the lucky few to be chosen, Kathryn Schulmeister (double bass, Academy participant in 2013, 2014, and 2015) is up for the challenges in store.
It will be an original performance piece and a new production, so will require the immense amount of work that any original art demands. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have this opportunity with the LUCERNE FESTIVAL ACADEMY, and hope to learn as much as I can from the mentors and collaborators involved with this project about how to engage young and diverse audiences, while also expanding my repertoire through performing with accomplished international colleagues. Maybe I can organize a similar program back home in Hawaii some day! Thank you LUCERNE FESTIVAL and looking forward to this project!
More information about HEROÏCA can be found here. Fensadense will be touring around Switzerland in Spring, whilst the world premiere of The Little Prince will take place as part of the Easter Festival in March 2016.