I.In so-called serious music, there are little more than a handful of good jokes – and most of them are not funny at all if you write them down. One from 1788, penned by Joseph Haydn, has held up and functions today as it did the day before yesterday. It goes like this: The finale of his ninetieth symphony has a deceptively short recapitulation, but it doesn’t end after that. A good joke teller at the desk waits after the general break for the applause to begin before he or she, with a little calculated indignation, delivers the final appendix.
Barbara Hannigan has now added a twist to this joke. After the repetition, which some people leave out in order not to tell the same joke twice, she waited for the applause, left the stage, and the orchestra of the Ludwigsburg Palace Festival brought the finale to an end on its own. The whole festival is full of such surprises, but it is especially the concert programs that the Canadian soprano and conductor, who is in demand around the world, designed for her residency week here, partly together with young artists from her “Equilibrium” initiative.
Break up order, create something new
The longer the Castle Festival lasts, the more it will take place in front of an audience this year. After initially having to switch to the digital stage, the audience returned to the Forum am Schlosspark for the events with Barbara Hannigan. Hannigan did not travel with her own ensemble, but studied the programs with the very ambitious orchestra of the festival. It is one of the traditions of this festival, whose radiance Jochen Sandig, artistic director for the second year, would like to continuously increase beyond the region.
Above all, it is about sustainability. With a lot of celebrities and, consequently, kilometers traveled, this seems tricky at first. It should show itself, among other things, in the form of further residencies; the artists, ideally arriving by train, don’t just jet to Ludwigsburg for a single concert. And instead of giving thanks with bouquets of flowers, trees are being planted this year. In addition, the Schlossfestspiele rely on creatively forged concert programs in which performatives and dance also play important roles.
The expansion of communicative transport routes
This is also shown by “Hannigan’s Moveable Feast”, a walking music festival in the courtyard and in the rooms of the baroque palace, which gives young artists the stage – for example during the Luftgeist performance by Aphrodite Patoulidou and Tian Gao to Jonathan Dove’s “Ariel”. Concerts are like little scenes that the audience more or less stumbles into. They carry within them the main idea of the festival, not to move along ready-made paths in terms of concert dramaturgy, but to break up order and create something new. While others rely on careful bridge building, especially when dealing with contemporary music, the opposites collide directly here. What separates centuries in music history is cut hard and without comment – for example Luigi Nono’s soprano solo “Djamila Boupacha” and Dietrich Buxtehude’s lively cantata “Mein Herz ist alles” with the strong bass-baritone Douglas Williams. These are programs designed directly with the listening experience in mind, which, although they do not hunt for effects, aim more at the moment than at the background and context. The program texts are short, and artist biographies are also saved. Whoever listens will understand.