Monday, May 30, 2016
The outgoing Berlin Philharmonic chief calls the EU decision to defund the EUYO ‘an embarrassment’ and expresses the hope ‘someone will change it quickly’. He describes the decision as ‘one ignorant signature’. Losing the EUYO, he adds, would be ‘an unnecessary loss’. It’s not the strongest of statements, but Rattle has been active behind the scenes rallying German government support for reversing the Brussels dictat to defund the EUYO. Watch his statement here (in English).
Statement published just now by the Berliner Philharmoniker: The imminent disbanding of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) from 1 September 2016 due to lack of funding from the EU would symbolically be a cultural and political disaster second to none and a terrible indictment against a background of increasing nationalistic and anti-EU tendencies. As a result, we call on the political leaders and representatives of the European Union to do everything possible to ensure the survival of this artistically and politically irreplaceable institution. Since its inception in 1976, the EUYO has been one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and brings together the most talented young musicians from all 28 EU member states to create a unique orchestra. In the 40 years of its existence, more than 3,000 young musicians from all EU member states have performed in the EUYO. Through working together with world-renowned conductors and soloists, including our former chief conductors Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan, the orchestra has acquired an outstanding reputation over the years in terms of musical education, and is a unique reservoir of young talent for all the world’s leading orchestras. For example, no less than nine colleagues of our orchestra are former members of the EUYO. The impressive music educational aspect is nevertheless secondary to the symbolism of this unique EU cultural institution, where the idea of a peaceful and united Europe is lived out and made tangible to the public. The work in this collective of 140 members provides a perfect example of how different nationalities and languages can be purposefully united towards a joint solution despite differing viewpoints and perceptions. Sir Simon Rattle Martin Hoffmann Chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker/General manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation Ulrich Knörzer Knut Weber Members of the Orchestra Board Member of the Orchestra Board Auf Deutsch: Die Berliner Philharmoniker wenden sich gegen die drohende Auflösung des Jugendorchesters der Europäischen Union (EUYO) Die aufgrund mangelnder finanzieller Mittel drohende Auflösung des Jugendorchesters der Europäischen Union (EUYO) zum 1. September 2016 seitens der EU ist – gerade vor dem Hintergrund zunehmender nationaler, europafeindlicher Tendenzen – ein in seiner Symbolik wohl kaum zu übertreffender kulturpolitischer GAU und ein großes Armutszeugnis. Daher fordern wir die verantwortlichen Politiker und Repräsentanten der Europäischen Union auf, alles zu unternehmen, um ein Weiterleben dieser künstlerisch und politisch unersetzlichen Institution sicherzustellen. Seit seiner Gründung im Jahr 1976 gehört das EUYO zu den prestigeträchtigsten Orchestern weltweit und vereint die größten Nachwuchstalente aller 28 EU-Mitgliedsstaaten zu einem einzigartigen Klangkörper. In den 40 Jahren seines Bestehens haben mehr als 3000 junge Musiker aus allen EU-Mitgliedsstaaten im EUYO musiziert. Durch die Zusammenarbeit mit weltweit renommierten Dirigenten und Solisten, darunter unsere ehemaligen Chefdirigenten Claudio Abbado und Herbert von Karajan, hat sich das Orchester im Laufe der Jahre eine herausragende Reputation hinsichtlich der musikalischen Ausbildung erworben und ist ein einzigartiges Nachwuchsreservoir aller international führenden Orchester. So sind allein in unserem Orchester neun Kolleginnen und Kollegen ehemalige Mitglieder des EUYO. Dieser beeindruckende musikpädagogische Aspekt wird durch die Symbolik der einzigen EU-eigenen Kulturinstitution noch überragt: Hier wird die Idee eines friedlichen und vereinten Europas gelebt und für die Öffentlichkeit erfahrbar gemacht. Die Arbeit in diesem Kollektiv aus 140 Mitgliedern veranschaulicht auf ideale Weise, wie trotz verschiedener Nationalität und Sprache differierende Standpunkte geäußert, wahrgenommen und zielführend vereint werden können.
For New Year’s Eve 2015, the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle featured music by French composers. The soloist was violinist Anne – Sophie Mutter, who played selections by Ravel and Saint Saens. Listeners get to hear Ms. Mutter perform Saint Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and “Tsigane” by Maurice Ravel. Here is Ms. Mutter in the work by Saint Saens, in an arrangement for violin and piano, rather than orchestral accompaniment:
I have a friend on Facebook who shared with me that she became familiar with Beethoven’s Symphony number 9 as a young child. Amazing, huh? The very first recording I received as a gift when I was about 13 years old was the Bach Brandenburg Concerto number 2. I am pretty sure that I still have this recording somewhere…. Let me return to Beethoven. I have created a playlist for my FB friend, in which there are performances of Beethoven’s masterpiece under three conductors: Sir Simon Rattle, Charles Mackerras, and Riccardo Chailly. Symphonic music of Beethoven’s predecessors did not include choir or singer soloists. Beethoven’s innovation was to add this feature, which led other composers such as Mahler to add this format to their music, too. You know who you are, good friend, so please enjoy and compare these performances. Oh, yes, one final thought: Beethoven completed this work in 1824. That is 192 years ago. And we are still listening to this music!
The American violinist Anthea Kreston is adjusting to her new life in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet. But almost everywhere she turns there is someone who raises an uncomfortable question. Latest instalment of Anthea’s candid weekly diary. This week, Vineta was in Latvia playing concertos, and the rest of us busied ourselves with concerts with others (which are referred to as “Quartet Affairs”) and the business of life and quartet. Jason and I had our second visit from family – it seems like we will have one visit per month in the next months. Some of our family members travel often and have lived overseas and have a fearless, easy-going approach to adventure. Others have stayed close to home for many years and see our move as a chance to branch out in a safe and comfortable way. In both cases, it is a chance for us to get to know our own city better, and we often learn about new things to do from our guests. This week we were also given a bunch of furnishings from IKEA, due to arrive any day. We are still living out of cardboard boxes, and now we just paint them and put glitter on them to make them more homey. Our German tutor, Sebastian, has been coming twice per week, and spends 45 minutes first with me, then with Jason. He somehow can understand my babbling, I don’t know how, and asks me about Oregon. He can’t believe the differences and coaches Jason and I about cultural differences and how to relate and what to expect. For example, I was planning a little “gorilla gardening” adventure – these are very popular in Oregon – if there is a sunny spot, why not just plant some things – there are huge luxurious gardens planted between sidewalk and street (officially town property) and even chicken coops in town-owned property. In our courtyard there is a prime sunny spot with some mangy, unloved plants. I have some tomatoes (in Oregon we left behind a huge garden and I love to have enough tomatoes to last through the year) that I was hoping to nestle in that spot. Sebastian, with a horrified look, said “oh dear Anthea, this won’t work in Germany!”. In the mean time, our little balcony is starting to have a nice container garden. I also had a wonderful time reconnecting with Fred Child from Performance Today (American Public Media). This show is one-of-a-kind in America – it features live classical performance and Fred is a knowledgeable and passionate speaker. He happened to be on a two-week tour of Germany with three busses of classical radio music lovers, and asked me to come play and speak to his group. In 2003 my trio (Amelia Piano Trio) spent a week with Performance Today as Young Artists in Residence – an hour of live performance every day and interviews. This was an incredible experience for Jason (cellist in the Trio) and I – and more than 1.5 million listeners tuned in. To play a weeks-worth of concerts, note-perfect, and to speak eloquently was an overwhelming task for us as young musicians, and Fred made it feel easy and comfortable. Performance Today was travelling with a fine young pianist, and they suggested we read the Kreutzer Sonata together for the group after Fred interviewed me. Because our things finally came, I was able to find my music (and a fun vintage gown from the 50’s) and spent a couple of days refreshing my Kreutzer Sonata. We went as a family to a beautiful large banquet hall for a lovely meal of salmon and spargel – the white asparagus which is in season now. Being interviewed by Fred is both comfortable and in-depth, and I was surprised to find myself quickly on the topic of being a woman in this field, at this point in my life. He introduced me as a violinist who also has a Women’s Studies degree, and spoke glowingly about the Artemis and their shared history. He spoke about the extreme schedule, and my adjustment to this. It is true that this has been a big adjustment, but none of it has been at all out of my comfort zone. I love it. But, as he pressed further, I began to talk about some of the comments I have received in the last months. Questions about if it was appropriate for a woman with young children to be doing this job, direct questions (and disapproval) that I would pull Jason away from his career. These questions have been straight-forward and pointed, and I have always answered calmly and with an open mind. But I do wonder if people who ask these questions also ask male musicians about their female counterparts, and their careers. I am one of three members of this quartet with children under age 6, and I don’t believe that similar questions have been asked of them. All musicians come from different situations, and none of these are simple or easy. These questions must be coming from compassion, but still they rattle and confound. Also – and I might as well say it – I do read the comments from this diary (why do I do this?? – RW2013 I will have a standing ticket for you at every Philharmonie concert!) Many of the negative ones are centered around a premise that this type of journal is inappropriate or too mundane and refer to the Guarneri Quartet “Indivisible by Four” – but this diary is simply a diary of my journey – and for me it includes my family in every way. It was refreshing to recently read in an interview of YoYo Ma that he counted his family as the biggest accomplishment of his life. As I left the Performance Today group, a woman raiser her arms and shouted “courage!” to me. She came over to speak and I mentioned that Jason and his kind of supportive husband (giving up his university position and orchestra for this move) should not be a spectacular exception – women do this all the time. Rather it should be the norm. But – we are still a long distance away from this. And – if Clara could do it with 9 kids, an unstable husband, and in a buggy, I can do it too!
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, on tour in Japan, responded swiftly to the closure of the European Union Youth Orchestra with an offer to lobby the EU to reverse its miserable decision. In an article in today’s Guardian , the EUYO’s CEO Marshall Marcus says the defunding of EUYO was not a considered decision, rather a consequence of some larger, meaningless Brussels policy of the kind that no-one fully understands and which drives many Europeans to despair. This funding decision is simply the consequence of a change in the EU’s cultural funding policy. Two years ago it was decided by the EU that there was to be no more cultural funding for any single organisation. Instead, €1.45bn of cultural support over seven years (a 7% increase on the previous programme) was only allowed to be used on projects with a highly complicated partnership structure. The new Creative Europe programme has wonderful objectives. But it is project funding to encourage national organisations to get together to become more European, not core funding for what is the original pan-European organisation. We went to talk to Commissioner Navracsics and also members of President Schulz’s cabinet in early 2015 to say that this “one size fits all”-approach to cultural funding doesn’t work? for an EU orchestra with members from 28 countries, and that we were being forced into the wrong funding box. They listened, apparently, but neither the Commissioner nor the well-meaning cabinet members had any answer. And Navracsics’ hastily put together statement from yesterday seems to only repeat the same category error, a simpleton bureaucrat mantra trying to dodge the absurdity of the EU apparently having no responsibility to give any support to the EU’s own youth orchestra. Excuse me? This is government in the hands of bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats. How you can help.