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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

    In today’s classical news, The San Francisco Symphony cancelled two tour concerts in North Carolina, in response to the state’s law that overturned protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Queensland Symphony Orchestra has been treating passengers that touched down at Brisbane Airport with pop-up performances, as part of the airport’s artist-in-residence programme. Also, read about studies on music’s effect on men and women to beat your friends at board games this Christmas.

    The Telegraph

    The secret trick which could help women beat men at board games this Christmas

    Studies showed that classical music helps men with concentration whereas rock music doesn’t. However, music was found to have no effect on women’s performance.

    Was 2016 the year women stormed the citadels of classical music?

    Where does the best hope for classical music lie? In gifted, passionate and engaged musicians – not in grand plans for swanky new buildings.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    SF Symphony cancels tour concerts in North Carolina

    The San Francisco Symphony has cancelled two tour concerts scheduled for April 5-6 in Chapel Hill, N.C., in response to the passage of the state law that overturned protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

    The New York Times

    Esma Redzepova, Who Sang to Generations of Her Roma Heritage, Dies at 73

    Esma Redzepova, the Macedonian singer who was acclaimed for decades as the greatest female voice in Romany (Gypsy) music, died on Sunday in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. She was 73. Often billed as “Queen of the Gypsies,” Ms. Redzepova sang in more than 10 languages and recorded more than 500 songs. In the Balkans, her hits reached multiple generations.

    ABC News

    Queensland Symphony Orchestra treats travellers to music and fanfare at Brisbane airport

    Passengers touching down in Brisbane this month have been treated to pop-up performances by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO).

    Music Teacher Magazine

    RNCM appoints new head and assistant head of music education

    The Royal Northern College of Music has appointed Dr John Habron and Robert Gardiner as head of music education and assistant head of music education (PGCE) respectively.

    Classical Music Magazine

    Wigmore Hall announces additional subsidised tickets

    Building on the success of its scheme offering £5 tickets for under-35s, Wigmore Hall has announced that an additional 5,000 subsidised tickets will be available throughout next year, resulting in a total of 25,000.

    Butterworth drinking song rediscovered in Oxford

    A festive song by George Butterworth has been rediscovered at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.

    Musik Heute

    Elbphilharmonie ist “Hamburger des Jahres” 2016

    Die Elbphilharmonie ist noch nicht einmal eröffnet, aber schon “Hamburger des Jahres”: Generalintendant Christoph Lieben-Seutter hat die Auszeichnung am Montagabend in der Kategorie “Kultur” erhalten.

    Klassik Heute

    Valentine Michaud erhält den «Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes» 2017

    Die französische Saxophonistin Valentine Michaud setzte sich beim Finale des Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes 2017 gegen drei Mitbewerber durch. Michaud studierte in Lausanne und setzt ihr Studium derzeit an der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste fort.

    Klassik.com

    Wiener Konzerthaus mit positiver Bilanz

    Eigenen Angaben zufolge konnte es 2015/16 einen Besucherrekord erzielen, insgesamt zählte man 542.000 Besucher. Das sind 2,6 Prozent mehr als in der Spielzeit 2014/15. Die Zahl der Veranstaltungen erhöhte sich von 815 (2014/15) auf 861, davon waren 559 Eigenveranstaltungen.

    Twitter

    The Violin Channel @violinchannel ow.ly/FWtl3073mGM 20 Candidates Announced for 2017 Elmar Oliveira International Violin Comp @LynnUniversity

    Royal Academy of Music @RoyalAcadMusic Online booking is now open for Spring 2017 events

    Classical Music @ClassicalMusic8 Mozart in the Jungle is like Game of Thrones for classical music … –

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    Photo: Chris Wahlberg/ SF Symphony

    (Written on December 13, 2016 )

    Classical News

    In our news today, Sir Jonathan Mills speaks about the “domination of London” in culture and politics, Dudamel Fellows announces 2016/17 partcipating conductors, and a live symphony orchestra will perform the entire Harry Potter film score in a new series of concerts. Also, Britain’s church bell ringers don’t limit themselves to sunday services, and John Williams confirms he will score eighth Star Wars film.

    The Times

    London’s ‘domination of culture’ must now end, says ex-director

    Sir Jonathan Mills, who curated his final international festival programme in 2014, said the “domination of London” in culture and politics could no longer be sustained.

    Classical Music Magazine

    Dudamel Fellows 2016/17 announced

    Paulo Bortolameolli, Elim Chan and Kachun Wong have been announced as Dudamel Fellows for 2016/17. They will participate in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s orchestral, education and community programmes, and will also receive personal mentoring.

    The Guardian

    Daniel Barenboim on ageing, mistakes and why Israel and Iran are twin brothers

    At 73, the conductor is still lobbying presidents and bellowing at the violins in five languages. But has his passion project – an orchestra of players from across the Middle East – achieved any real change?

    Evening Standard

    A live symphony orchestra will perform the entire Harry Potter film score in a new series of concerts

    Fans will get the chance to hear music from the films performed in their entirety by a live symphony orchestra, with music from the first film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone kicking off proceedings.

    The New York Times

    Britain’s Church Bell Ringers Don’t Limit Themselves to Sunday Services

    There are about 5,000 churches in Britain, and almost everyone lives within hearing range of one of them. Bell-ringing enthusiasts are called campanologists, and the country has about 40,000 of them.

    CMUSE

    John Williams confirms he will score eighth Star Wars film

    John Williams, Hollywood’s most decorated film composer, has relieved Star Wars fans by confirming that he will be scoring the soundtrack for the upcoming eighth film in the series.

    nmz

    Zeitung: Bund erwägt Übernahme der Berliner Philharmoniker

    Der Bund hat einem Zeitungsbericht zufolge Interesse an einer Übernahme der Berliner Philharmoniker. Kulturstaatsministerin Monika Grütters (CDU) schwebe im Rahmen der Verhandlungen für den neuen Hauptstadtkulturvertrag ein finanzielles Engagement für das weltberühmte Ensemble vor.

    Klassik heute

    Musikfest Bremen 2016 vor dem Start

    Am Samstag, 20. August, beginnt mit der Großen Nachtmusik das 27. Musikfest Bremen. Beim Eröffnungsabend „Große Nachtmusik“ stehen 27 Konzerte in drei Zeitschienen rund um den illuminierten Bremer Marktplatz auf dem Programm.

    Musik heute

    Instrumentalwettbewerb Markneukirchen für Streicher ausgeschrieben

    Der Internationale Instrumentalwettbewerb Markneukirchen wendet sich im kommenden Jahr an junge Musiker der Fächer Viola und Kontrabass. Bewerbungen aus aller Welt würden bis zum 31. Januar 2017 angenommen.

    Twitter

    BBC Proms Team @bbcproms Our Virtual Orchestra is nearly complete, but you can still take part! UK kazoo players: your time has come. http://bbc.in/2bG0wmu

    Tido Music @tidomusic Slow practice… did it! Excellent article by on how to enjoy ultra-slow practice

    BR Klassik @BR_Klassik In voller Länge nachhören: die Oper “Thaïs” von Jules Massenet beim mit u http://bit.ly/2aYtmbx

    harry-potter

    A live symphony orchestra will perform the entire Harry Potter film score in a new series of concerts. Credit: Warner Bros

    (Written on August 17, 2016 )

    The last minute cancellation of a performance last week by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at the World Wrestling Cup, infuriated its conductor Ali Rahbari. As the orchestra was about to play the national anthem, it was announced that women weren’t allowed to perform; Rahbari refused to perform if the orchestra could not play all together.  

    Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, women have been forbidden from performing solo on stage. Outside the capital, performances are often cancelled if there is a female musician, even when tickets have been sold. To perform music in Iran, it is necessary to have a permit from the ministry of culture, however even with the permit, anti -music groups call off concerts; conservatives and some religious leaders claim music can “excite and cause deviation” among the country’s youth. Last week’s incident was the first time a performance by the Symphony Orchestra had been cancelled because of its female members.

    Only this April, after a three year interlude, was the orchestra revived by Alexander Rahbari. According to Rahbari, this is thanks to Rouhani’s relatively moderate administration. Under the previous president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the orchestra was broken up, due to negligence and financial stringency.

    Tehran Symphony Orchestra performs in Tehran in March after a 25 month break/ photo: Payvand Iran news

    Tehran Symphony Orchestra performs in Tehran in March after a 25 month break/ photo: Payvand Iran news

    It is odd that there are such gender issues in Iran’s entertainment industry. In many ways, the country is one of the more progressive middle Eastern countries; 70% of university graduates in Iran are women. The cancellation of concerts which have been permitted by the ministry of culture is considered wrong, and there doesn’t seem to be much clarity or consistency on the issue; Iranian law allows women to perform as part of an ensemble, however sometimes concerts go ahead and on some occasions they are called-off. Women aren’t allowed to sing solo either, as a result many are forced to go abroad in order to pursue careers in music. Are the restrictions on women performing just an extreme method of limiting music in Iran rather than restricting women? It seems that women in other industries aren’t discriminated against as severely, but according to some conservatives, music can “excite and cause deviation.”

    The restrictions on the performance of music, the necessity of a permit and the cancellation of concerts because of female performers seem bizarre to Europe. Although females in the European music industry – most notably composers and conductors – do face gender issues, we have progressed considerably. This week, it was announced that Xian Zhang will be guest conductor at BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Although female conductors are still a rarity, the idea of women in this role is becoming normalised.

    Conductor Ali Rahbari

    Conductor Ali Rahbari

    The human rights of women in Iran have been infringed upon; the orchestra was quite right not to perform rather than bow to the demands of the authorities, who prohibited the women from playing. Not only is it a kind of gender segregation, but audiences are deprived of music, which they have paid to hear. The head of the Wrestling Federation, Rasoul Khadem, has asked the orchestra to play the national anthem at another wrestling event in Tehran in January; let’s hope it goes ahead uninterrupted! 

    (Written on December 4, 2015 )

    Mashable

    Pitchfork to Launch Magazine-Style App ‘Pitchfork Weekly’

    Online music publication Pitchfork will launch its first mobile app in November, the company revealed exclusively to Mashable. Dubbed Pitchfork Weekly, the magazine-style app will be available on iOS at launch before coming to Android in the future

    Digital Music News

    Album Sales Sink to Their Lowest Levels Since 1991…

    Vinyl records continue to sell well but album sales CDs and digital albums sink lower

    Pandora Loses Nearly 2 Million Listeners In October…

    iTunes radio has huge amount of active listeners while Pandora listeners fall away

    Huffington Post

    Video Game Music Is Making Symphony Orchestra Awesome Again, Thanks To ‘Zelda’ And ‘rePLAY’

    With the help of a few band geeks and game developers, a few of the gaming community’s favorite soundtracks are featuring in new concerts of gaming music repertoire. Producer Jason Michael Paul is one of the masterminds behind the movement…

    Classic FM Online

    Johnny Marr and Incubus’ Michael Einziger join new Spiderman soundtrack

    Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths, and Incubus guitarist Michael Einziger will be joined by Dave Stewart, ex-guitarist with The Eurythmics on the new Hans Zimmer score for The Amazing Spider-Man 2

    Instrument museum destroyed in fire

    Hundreds of instruments were destroyed yesterday in a large fire at an Italian musical instrument museum, Museo dello Strumento Musicale in Reggio Calabria

    Newsday

    Childhood Music Lessons May Offer Lifelong Benefits

    Older adults who took music lessons during childhood seem to have a faster brain response to speech than those who never played an instrument, according to the results of a new, small study

    Ozarks First

    Classical Music Helps Fight Crime and Violence on Park Central Square

    With the knowledge that music affects peoples mood, Springfield police in the USA are letting the music do the talking

    Die Welt

    “Ich spiele, solange mein Dekolleté vorzeigbar ist.”

    Die große Geigerin im großen Gespräch: Anne-Sophie Mutter über ihre Einspielung der Solo-Werke von Antonin Dvorák mit den Berliner Philharmonikern und warum sie Kleider von Dior als Arbeitskleidung trägt

    Classic FM Online

    Classic FM Online

     

    (Written on November 6, 2013 )

    Jessica Duchen’s classical music blog

    Ivan Fischer.

    Ivan Fischer on the future of the symphony orchestra.

    Financial Times

    Ctrl-Alt-Concerto.

    They may lack the glamour and impact of a philharmonic in full flight – but interest is growing in laptop orchestras.

    New York Times

    Seeking New York’s ‘Other’ Opera Company.

    New York City Opera’s woes give smaller companies an opening.

    After Long Search, Philharmonic Names Top Executive.

    The New York Philharmonic named its new executive director on Wednesday.

    A New Music Festival Downtown To Offer Fresh Sounds And Words.

    A music producer and a downtown theater said on Wednesday that they would establish a festival of new music-theater works next January called “Prototype: Opera/Theater/Now.”

    npr.org

    Aretha Franklin Is Looking For The Next Great Star…Of Opera.

    The Queen of Soul is looking for the next big thing in opera.

    The Guardian

    Happy Birthday, Maurizio Pollini!

    The great Italian pianist is 70 today.

    LA Times

    Rodarte Pair Will Design First Opera Costumes For LA Phil.

    Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy are slated to design their first opera costumes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in May.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/01/rodarte-will-design-first-opera-costumes-for-la-phils-don-giovanni.html

     

     

    (Written on January 5, 2012 )