Rarely has culture had a harder time than in these months of planning uncertainties, permanent adjustments to the current situation, and even postponements or cancellations. What is all the more remarkable in these months is the vitality of contemporary music, which is defying the current difficulties with its unbroken creativity and the diversity of musical ideas and sounds as well as extra-musical positions, and more than this: inspiring and surprising us with an unbroken love of invention and discovery with new flexible concepts, performance and transmission possibilities.
The abundance of the new and the latest is unbroken and is also reflected in Ultraschall Berlin 2022. At the same time, the festival remains true to its mission of presenting the central currents of contemporary music as contemporary art and culture, questioning them and placing them in new contexts. World premières and first performances are related to the more recent history of music and art, whose works are revisited in a contemporary context. World premières by Mirela Ivičević or Sara Glojnarić are performed alongside established “classics” such as Luca Francesconi or Kaija Saariaho.
Two portrait concerts illuminate the work of the respective composers in very different ways. The complexity of the composer Yiran Zhao is revealed in selected works for ensemble and percussion, but also in a dance piece. Another performance focuses on the improvisation and sound artist Zsolt Sörés, who moves beyond all genres and pigeonholes. This concert continues our long-standing collaboration with the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.
Numerous protagonists of new music have always tackled current affairs, addressed problems and grievances in their works and taken a stand on political issues with their artistic means. And especially recently, the pressure and persecution of the arts by populist, authoritarian or dictatorial regimes has been increasing. Ultraschall Berlin addresses such issues. Sergei Nevsky documents queer subculture in the Soviet Union of the 1920s, and George Lewis also writes a tribute to the marginalised and persecuted. And the Ensemble Recherche deals with the topic of gentrification through a mixture of lecture-performance, concert and film première.
Contemporary music thrives on the diversity of forms, formats and formations. At Ultraschall Berlin, standard line-ups such as the traditional piano trio or the classical piano recital appear alongside highly unusual combinations. Established ensembles such as the Boulanger Trio, the Neue Vocalsolisten or LUX:NM meet an experimental radio opera by Celeste Oram & Ensemble Adapter or the Mixtura duo, which Damian Marhulets expands into a trio with electronics as an independent “instrument”.
After the break caused by the pandemic, the large orchestra is back this year with the two roc ensembles. The opening and closing concerts will be performed by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer and Eun Sun Kim. The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra will play under the direction of Bas Wiegers.
The festival programme will be supplemented by talks with musicians and composers as well as the UltraschallReporter student project.
One festival, two broadcasting stations and an abundance of musical discoveries. We look forward to welcoming you!