Hamburg, 13 April 2022: The sixth edition of the Hamburg International Music Festival begins on 28 April with a performance of Joseph Haydn’s oratorio »The Creation«. Between then and 1 June, an extensive programme of more than 60 events in the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle explores the theme of »nature«. Guests include many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Munich Philharmonic and the Filarmonica della Scala. Those distinguished orchestras will be performing under conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Andris Nelsons, Iván Fischer, René Jacobs, Manfred Honeck, Riccardo Chailly and Klaus Mäkelä. The festival is also an opportunity to experience star soloists such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Pekka Kuusisto, Igor Levit and Sir András Schiff. The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra is giving a fundraising concert as part of a German tour that was scheduled at short notice. As in previous years, Hamburg’s orchestras are well-represented with numerous concerts. As the festival gets underway, the Elbphilharmonie will be illuminated by the spectacular light installation »Breaking Waves« by the Amsterdam-based artist duo DRIFT from 28 April to 1 May. Tickets for festival concerts are available at

The Hamburg International Music Festival traditionally gives the musicians performing there an opportunity to realise very special projects and programmes. These are presented both by the major Hamburg orchestras – the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz and Symphoniker Hamburg – and by the numerous national and international guests. The Finnish rising star Klaus Mäkelä, for example, will be performing all seven of Jean Sibelius’s symphonies in three concerts with the Oslo Philharmonic. Andris Nelsons is conducting four concert programmes of music by Richard Strauss, including two concerts with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. And Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra join forces with the young Italian pianist Beatrice Rana for a performance of Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

Framed by Joseph Haydn’s oratorios »The Creation« and »The Seasons«, the focus of the festival is on works exploring the beauty and horror of »nature«: Mahler’s Third Symphony and the Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss, concert performances of Weber’s »Freischütz« and Dvořák’s »Rusalka« as well as two song cycles, Schubert’s »Winterreise« and Ernst Krenek’s rarely performed »Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen«, which examined the relationship between nature and the modern world at the end of the 1920s. In her latest project »Les Adieux« in the Laeiszhalle, the star violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja takes Beethoven’s »Pastorale« as a basis for asking existential questions: How much time do we have left on this earth? When will natural resources be depleted? When will natural disasters, rising sea levels and novel diseases bring us to our knees?

The concert by the American musician and composer Caroline Shaw is one of the festival’s special highlights. The Pulitzer Prize winner has worked with the rapper Kanye West and with the opera legend Renée Fleming, and she has also produced music for films, stage plays and computer games. She recently won a Grammy Award for the best contemporary classical composition. Her song cycle »Let the Soil Play its Simple Part«, whose German premiere she will perform with Sō Percussion, expresses the younger generation’s anxieties about the survival of the natural world. The percussion work »Inuksuit« by John Luther Adams – which the New York Times described as »the ultimate environmental piece« – will be performed in the open air in Planten un Blomen Park.

With »Breaking Waves«, the renowned artist duo DRIFT has created an artwork that makes the exterior of the Elbphilharmonie shine in a new light. The installation refers to two elements that define the Elbphilharmonie’s surroundings and interior: water and music. To accompany the start of the Hamburg International Music Festival, the moving light artwork, which was originally planned for the Elbphilharmonie’s 5th birthday in January, will now shine on the concert hall’s facade for around ten minutes on four nights, from 28 April to 1 May 2022 (at 23:00 on 28 April and at 22:30 from 29 April to 1 May). Hundreds of illuminated drones will dance around the Elbphilharmonie and enhance the architecture in fascinating ways. When choreographing the swarm of drones around the Elbphilharmonie, Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of DRIFT drew inspiration from the second movement of the Piano Concerto by Thomas Adès − an intoxicating work blending classical and jazz that was performed in the anniversary concert on 11 January.

»Breaking Waves« was planned in close coordination with the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, which is dedicating a four-month solo exhibition to the artist duo. The exhibition is running until 8 May 2022 (»DRIFT: Moments of Connection«).

Christoph Lieben-Seutter, general and artistic director of the Elbphilharmonie: »I am delighted that the Hamburg International Music Festival can take place with audiences present again after two years that were defined by the pandemic. Visitors can expect a packed programme with outstanding guests who will be exploring this year’s festival motto ›nature‹ through music in all kinds of different ways. I am also excited that we, with ›Breaking Waves‹, also get to experience an artistic contribution going beyond the purely musical, highlighting connections between the themes of music, nature and technology in exciting ways.«

Dr Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media: »As part of the Hamburg International Music Festival, the city can look forward to welcoming some of the world’s best musicians and orchestras to the Elbphilharmonie. Under the festival theme of ›nature‹, the stakeholders of the musical city of Hamburg are demonstrating the social power of music. With the artwork ›Breaking Waves‹, the Elbphilharmonie and the MK&G are showing how creative collaboration in the cultural city of Hamburg can lead to the creation of something unique. The artwork shows off the Elbphilharmonie’s exceptional architecture in a new light and will send an unforgettable image of the concert hall on the Elbe out to the world.«

The Hamburg International Music Festival is a joint festival by HamburgMusik, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Symphoniker Hamburg, NDR Vokalensemble, the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, Konzertdirektion Dr. Rudolf Goette, NDR das neue werk, Ensemble Resonanz, HAW Hamburg, HfMT Hamburg and Deichtorhallen Hamburg.

Supported by the Förderkreis Internationales Musikfest Hamburg, the Stiftung Elbphilharmonie and the Ministry of Culture and Media Hamburg.

The »Breaking Waves« installation is supported by the Freundeskreis Elbphilharmonie + Laeiszhalle e.V. and is organised in cooperation with Superblue.

Festival Concert Programme