26 August to 18 September 2023

­The programme of Musikfest Berlin 2023 has been announced:
Works by Mahler, Berlioz and Rachmaninoff, from Bach to Unsuk Chin­From 26 August to 18 September 2023 a new season in Berlin’s concert calender will be launched by the 19th edition of Musikfest Berlin, produced by Berliner Festspiele in co-operation with the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. The programme has been published on the website; advance ticket sales begin today, 21 April. Accreditation will begin in June.­­­­
­­­In 28 events of Musikfest Berlin 2023, over 60 works by around 45 composers will be presented in the Philharmonie Berlin, in its Chamber Music Hall and in the Gethsemanekirche. 25 orchestras, instrumental and vocal ensembles and more than 50 international soloists will perform at the festival. In addition to the great classics of the repertoire and of the 20th century, among which special emphasis given to works by the composers Gustav Mahler and Sergei Rachmaninoff, the festival programme is also open to music of our own time presenting works by Thomas Adès, Julia Adolphe, Dieter Ammann, George Benjamin, Unsuk Chin, Donnacha Dennehy, Francesco Filidei, Saed Haddad, Márton Illés, Elizabeth Ogonek, Betty Olivero and Victoria Vita Polevá. There will also be works in historical performance practice and two concerts dedicated to Persian music.

Musikfest Berlin will open on 26 August with a concert of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Iván Fischer. Following Jörg Widmann’s orchestra song cycle featuring baritone Michael Nagy as the soloist, the guests from Amsterdam will present Mahler’s Seventh Symphony at the Philharmonie Berlin.

John Eliot Gardiner, the doyen of historically informed performance practice, celebrates his 80th birthday this year. With this exclusive German guest performance by his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, the Monteverdi Choir and a cast of outstanding soloists, a genuine rarity comes to the stage of the Philharmonie Berlin: Berlioz’s operatic opus magnum “Les Troyens”.

Other international guest ensembles at this year’s Musikfest include the London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle and the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Andris Nelsons. Lahav Shani will be at Musikfest for the first time in his new position as Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who will be visiting with the Münchner Philharmoniker, and Joana Mallwitz as the new Chief Conductor of Konzerthausorchester Berlin will both be giving their Musikfest-debut as well as Jörg Widmann, who will be present in no less than three roles in his concerts with Berliner Philharmoniker: as conductor, clarinettist and composer.

In the second concert programme of Berliner Philharmoniker, Chief Conductor Kirill Petrenko will present exceptional works from the second half of the 20th century, composed by Iannis Xenakis, Karl Amadeus Hartmann and György Kurtág, as well as a world premiere by Márton Illés. Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conducted by Robin Ticcitai, combines the concert “Šu” by Korean composer Unsuk Chin with Gustav Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde“. Unsuk Chin’s music will also be featured in the concerts by Staatskapelle Berlin and the Ensemble Modern Orchestra, conducted by Sir George Benjamin, this year’s laureate of the Ernst von Siemens Music Award. In a second concert with the Ensemble Modern, Benjamin will present compositions by Varèse, Ravel, Schönberg and Saed Haddad, in addition to his own Bach transcription. Soloist of his two concerts is Anna Prohaska.

The world premiere of a new work by Wolfgang von Schweinitz will take listeners into the world of traditional Persian music. In “My Persia”, the composer uses the century-old micro-tonality of the dastgāhs (modes) of the radīf, the cultural legacy of acient Persian music. During the evening’s second part, the Berlin-based tār- and setār-virtuoso Majeed Qadiani will present the century-old beauty and poetry of this acient Persian music. The following evening features a guest performance by the Māhbānoo Ensemble, which was founded and is conducted by Majid Derakhshāni. In accordance with the meaning of the word “Bānoo”, the lady, the ensemble is made up entirely of female musicians. The group is prohibited from appearing in public in Iran, which has not prevented its studio recordings being distributed online. After concerts in neighbouring European countries and a few private performances here, the Māhbānoo Ensemble now makes its public debut in Germany at Musikfest Berlin.

Several anniversaries will be celebrated at Musikfest Berlin this year: the founding of Bayerisches Staatsorchester 500 years ago and the 100th anniversary of Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin. Both orchestras will be conducted by their joint Chief Conductor Vladimir Jurowski and present programmes of contemporary music and works by Weill, Rachmaninoff, Alban Berg and Richard Strauss. The RIAS Kammerchor Berlin was founded 75 years ago and performs Haydn’s “Missa in tempore belli” together with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. Also committed to historically informed performance the Collegium Vocale Gent will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s opus summum “Mass in B minor” with their orchestra and their artistic director Philippe Herreweghe.

On the occasion of the Rachmaninoff Year 2023, the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rundfunkchor Berlin and the pianist Alexander Melnikov will dedicate their concerts to the great composer.

Apart from his two chamber musical contributions with music by Rachmaninoff, Melnikov and the B’Rock Orchestra, which is based in Ghent and also cultivates historically informed performance practices, will address the visitors of Musikfest Berlin with a very special academy: “Listener’s Academy” is the title of a matinée at the Chamber Music Hall, where Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto will be explained for the listeners’ ears. In its creation “symphony of change”, the Stegreif Orchester will set out to discover sounds of sustainability with music from Hildegard von Bingen to Clara Schumann.

Finally, the Critics’ Quartet takes Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony as its theme in a conversation between four music journalists. The quartet will be recorded by Deutschlandfunk Kultur and broadcast after the festival. Several other concerts of Musikfest Berlin will be broadcast by Deutschlandfunk Kultur or rbb Kultur, either live or at a later date.