Last year it turned 50, but there is absolutely no sign of failing energy or creativity: when it comes to new programming ideas and intriguing concert projects, the Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra of Germany, or BJO) is always ahead of the game. At Young Euro Classic, where the BJO has been among the regulars from the first festival year onwards, its palette of unusual concerts already includes performances with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to last year’s programme featuring film music from the silent movie era to the present. Diversity is key: following its motto “Playing. Supporting. Raising Enthusiasm”, the young musicians aged 14 to 19, most of them first prize winners of the Federal music competition “Jugend musiziert”, meet for several intense rehearsal periods per year. The orchestra presents compositions from all epochs, including contemporary works and world premieres. The BJO has long become one of Germany’s most important cultural ambassadors, as its recent concert tours to Ukraine (2017), India (2018) and South Africa (2019) demonstrate. Since 2013 the Berlin Philharmonic has been the patron orchestra of the Bundesjugendorchester, holding joint rehearsals, master courses and concerts.
The World Youth Choir is an international ensemble of the world’s best young choral singers. Founded in 1989, the chorus is reconstituted every year through online auditions heard by an international jury of experts. It brings together up to 100 young talents aged 17 to 26 for one annual rehearsal and concert period. Over the past 30 years the World Youth Choir has united more than 1,000 vocalists from 75 countries, giving more than 300 concerts in 37 different countries. Its recognition as a UNESCO Artist for Peace (1996-1998), its participation in the Olympic Games (Barcelona 1992, Beijing 2008) and the award of the Nobel Peace Prize (2011) have made the World Youth Choir a global symbol of peace and unity. The World Youth Choir is supported by the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat, the International Federation for Choral Music and Jeunesses Musicales International.
The Chinese multi-artist Tan Dun is doubtlessly among the most fascinating personalities on the international music scene. Born in the province of Hunan and living today in New York, the 62-year-old has managed to overcome the boundaries of classical music, of multi-media performances and the Eastern and Western music tradition, thanks to his originality and creativity. He became known to a broad audience with his score for Ang Lee’s film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), for which he won a Grammy Award. He composed the music for the video-and-music project The Map for cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the percussion concerto The Tears of Nature for Martin Grubinger. Tan Dun often includes elements such as water, paper or stone in his compositions. The Internet Symphony No. 1, commissioned by Google, reached more than 23 million users in 2008. At the same time, Tan Dun is in high demand as a conductor: this season, apart from the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, he also leads orchestras in Oslo, Turin, Melbourne, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
The young Belgian soprano Iris Hendrickx performs as an opera and concert singer. Her repertoire ranges from Mozart’s Pamina and Zerlina to Bizet’s Micaela and Antonia in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. Only recently the singer recorded a CD with French opera arias. On the concert stage, she has worked with conductors such as Philippe Herreweghe, Jost van Immerseel, Frieder Bernius and Patrick Fournillier.
The contralto Jo-Pei Weng received her vocal training first in her homeland of Taiwan, then at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. She has made a name for herself mainly on the opera stage, where she was successful as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Amneris in Aida and as Bizet’s Carmen. In 2014 she sang the role of Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Peking Opera; she was also the first Taiwanese singer to appear at the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg.
Originally from Barcelona, the tenor Xavier Moreno had his first professional ensemble engagement at the Mannheim State Theatre, where he acquired a broad range of repertoire. Today he performs as a guest at many German and European opera houses and is in high demand in the title roles of Verdi’s Don Carlos and Massenet’s Werther, as Cavaradossi in Tosca, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Don José in Carmen. On the concert stage, his core repertoire includes the tenor part in Verdi’s Requiem, the Stabat Mater by Dvořák and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.
Born in Kaufbeuren in Bavaria, Johannes D. Schendel studied singing with Michael Schopper at the Frankfurt am Main Music Academy and was selected for the series “Young Artist Concerts” as a fellow of the German Music Competition. Today he is a member of the RIAS-Kammerchor in Berlin, but continues to perform as a concert soloist in Germany and abroad. He has worked with conductors such as Sigiswald Kuijken, Paul Goodwin, Sylvain Cambreling, Lothar Zagrosek, Masaaki Suzuki and René Jacobs.
Originally from Schleswig-Holstein, Jörn Hinnerk Andresen had already worked in Zwickau, Koblenz and at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich before he was appointed chorus master at the Dresden State Opera, where he remained from 2014 to 2019. During his career as a Kapellmeister, Andresen has conducted more than 60 operas, operettas and musicals from very different eras. He is invited regularly by the leading choruses in Munich, Leipzig, Copenhagen and Paris for concerts, CD productions and choral preparation; he was also chorus director at the Salzburg Festival from 2008 to 2013. Starting with the 2019/20 winter semester, Andresen was appointed professor of choral conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. His special interest is baroque music; thus, he founded the baroque orchestra Cappella Confluentes and works as a guest conductor with the Lauttencompagney Berlin.
Symphony No. 9 d-Minor Op. 125 (1824)
7 pm: Pre-Concert Talk with Anastassia Boutsko (Deutsche Welle) at the Werner-Otto-Saal
Free admission with concert ticket
If Beethoven is mandatory in the Beethoven year, then it should be Beethoven with a special note! Thus the National Youth Orchestra of Germany when it invited the exceptional Chinese artist Tan Dun to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the best German orchestral musicians aged 13 to 19. Therefore, this meeting of Central Europe and the Far East promises an unusual result. When the World Youth Choir, whose casting is true to its name, intones the final chorus, the “Ode to Joy”, Schiller’s famous verses are imbued with even deeper meaning. This, however, is not all: Tan Dun, a master of creative exploration of musical traditions, has also focused on Beethoven as a composer. As a special birthday gift for the 250th anniversary of the master of symphonic art, he contributes a prologue for chorus and orchestra entitled Nine.