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On the 29th May, Minister of State Monika Grütters, Minister for Education Martina Münch and Vice president of the German UNESCO committee Prof. Christoph Wulf submitted a certificate for 34 different kinds of cultural heritage in Berlin. One of them is our beloved instrumental amateur music making! Prof. Christoph Wulf says that ‚immaterial cultural heritage shapes identities and encourages social cohesion as well as the dialogue between social groups. It is source of creativity and innovation and contributes to social change. I congratulate everyone who’s been awarded today kindly and thank you for your steady enhancements of our cultural heritage. You stand for the diversification of our cultural landscape.‘

Additional activities that made it onto the shortlist of the nationwide index include the telling of fairy tales, poetry slams in Germany and East Frisian tea culture.

In order to qualify for the index, the activity or tradition must be of remarkable social value to a larger group. In the case of amateur music making in Germany one could ask the questions ‘what is special about the scene?’ or ‘what is it being awarded for?’

An important fact is the rich diversity of the forms in which amateur music making occurs. Another one is the special cultural and social meaning it has for German people.

Instrumentales Laien- und Amateurmusizieren © DUK/Christoph Löffler

It is significant that the Bundestag published a paper with the topic ‚Amateur music making in Germany – survey and presentation of its social and economic role‘ (2008):

In 2007, the German centre for music information (Musikinformationszentrum) counted 29,500 amateur instrumental ensembles involving 739,500 citizens nationwide, 62% of who are aged under 25.

The instrumentalists form groups such as:

  • wind/brass orchestras (18,300)
  • accordion orchestras (3,500)
  • plucked string orchestras (750)
  • Symphony and string orchestras (750)
  • trombone choirs (6,200)
  • Further statistics count 48,500 choirs and 50,000 rock/pop/jazz/folk groups
  • The reason amateur music ensembles retain a high status in society is the diversity of roles they provide people, enjoyment and the love for music assumed to be the most prominent ones. Other benefits include social connections, handing down traditions and values to younger generations and the preservation of cultural heritage, and a way of „linking cultural interest with the wish for commonality, communication and vitality“ (p. 5 Essay Deutscher Bundestag – Wissenschaftliche Dienste 2008)

    One of the amateur scene’s hotspots is undoubtedly Berlin. The large number of amateur symphony orchestras is so significant that many performers and conductors lose track of them! It certainly doesn’t help that in many cases, the names of the orchestras are frustratingly similar. For example Symphonisches Orchester (Humboldt University), Neues Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Das Symphonieorchester, Berliner Symphoniker e. V. (professional!)

    Here is a non-exhaustive list of the amateur orchestras of Berlin, though by now there are likely to be even more in existence. The variety of amateur orchestras lets interested people choose the right level of ensemble for them. There are orchestras that focus more on having fun and adopt a more relaxed approach to rehearsals, as well as orchestras with really high standards and as a consequence require a successful audition to join.

    The nicest thing – not only in Berlin but in every city’s amateur music scene – is that after some time, wherever you participate in a new project, you will always meet people you’ve already played with in former projects. Due to shared interests and of course due to the power of music many of those people become your lifelong friends. The UNESCO committee certainly made the right choice awarding the amateur music scene for its many values and rich diversity!

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    (Written on June 15, 2017 )

    Classical News

    Today’s news, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has reached an agreement and announces its new 6-year contract with its musicians. Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Chorus is looking to recruit new members. Also, English National Opera has announced changes to its board and governance.


    The Buffalo News

    Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra announces 6-year contract with musicians

    Good news announced Saturday at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s season-opening concert in Kleinhans Music Hall. BPO musicians have reached an agreement with the orchestra’s management on a new six-year contract.

    The Wall Street Journal
    R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Blends Classical and Rock on Upcoming Album

    R.E.M.’s Mike Mills spent decades performing in front of millions, but it’s his latest work that makes him nervous. This past June, the bassist and keyboard player premiered a new piece of music, “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra” with the Toronto symphony.

    Classical Music Magazine

    Alison Willis wins London Concord Singers composition competition

    Alison Willis has won the London Concord Singers‘ 50th anniversary composition competition.

    Young People’s Chorus of NYC appoints first composer-in-residence

    The Young People’s Chorus of NYC (YPC) has appointed Michael Gordon as its inaugural composer-in-residence. The three-year position will see Gordon compose at least one new work inspired by New York City each season, give workshops and masterclasses, and serve on a committee as an artistic adviser.

    RSNO Chorus seeks new members

    The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Chorus is recruiting for new members. Formerly the Glasgow Choral Union, the Chorus is Scotland’s oldest choir still in operation and in 2018 will celebrate its 175th anniversary.

    ENO announces board changes

    English National Opera has announced changes to its board and governance. Patti White, Patty Dimond and Phil Edgar-Jones have replaced Glyn Barker, David Buchler, and David Harrell (stepping down following seven, nine and nine years of service respectively) on the ENO board.

    The Irish Times

    Musician misses home but story ends on a positive note

    Marja Gaynor loves the spontaneity of Irish musicians. In her native Finland musical gatherings are pre-planned, the violinist says.

    New York Post
    City’s first orchestra music charter school to open in 2017

    In a development that is sure to be music to the ears of city parents, a new, orchestral-themed charter school is scheduled to open in upper Manhattan next fall — the first of its kind in the Big Apple.

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    Thomas E. Bauer wird Intendant der Festspiele Europäische Wochen

    Der Bariton und Kulturmanager Thomas E. Bauer ist zum neuen Intendanten der Festspiele Europäische Wochen Passau berufen worden.

    Klassik heute

    Piano Days in Hamburg – Klangerlebnisse mit neuester Hybridtechnologie

    Klavierspielen ist schwer, teuer und nur etwas für Klassikfans? Mit diesem Klischee möchte CASIO aufräumen und ruft erstmals die CASIO Piano Days ins Leben.

    Der Tagesspiegel

    Wo die Freie Szene in Berlin zuhause ist

    Berliner Off-Zentrale: Die Sophiensæle sind seit 20 Jahren der Flagship-Store des Freien Theaters und Tanzes.

    Twitter

    Speakeasy @WSJspeakeasy R.E.M.’s Mike Mills blends rock and classical music on upcoming album: http://on.wsj.com/2cCw3TF

    BBC Philharmonic @BBCPhilharmonic “Classical Music is more relevant to the future” – an oldie but a goodie from Paul Morley in @Guardian

    Classical Music @ClassicalMusic_ Two weeks until @CityMusicF‘s @RhinegoldLive! Don’t miss out – reserve your free ticket now

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    Photo by: Mark Hamilton (RSNO Chorus Director, Gregory Batsleer)

    (Written on September 20, 2016 )