A music festival is not a daily political commentary on current events. Artistic processes run more slowly, especially in composed music. And yet every festival, and thus also Ultraschall Berlin, is set anew each year in a certain time, in a certain environment.
Two concerts are particularly close to contemporary history.
In her scenic project with works by Iranian women composers, the Iranian violist Muriel Razavi pays homage to the self-confident Iranian woman who demands her rights.
The concert by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin puts a passionate condemnation of nationalism at the centre of an evening that brings together composers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, all of whom no longer live in their countries of origin, as well as two other female composers from Scandinavia.
But a festival is never limited to the current affairs of the day. And so this year, Ultraschall Berlin once again offers a platform for artistic ideas of very different kinds and provenances. Without any content-related guidelines – quite deliberately, Ultraschall Berlin has no ‘theme’, but at most ‘red threads’ and accents that arise from the programmes themselves.
It is precisely the diversity of artistic ideas and strategies that characterises contemporary music. Ultraschall Berlin offers an enabling space, a platform for all of this. Whether nature or the city serve as a source of inspiration for musical works, whether composers refer to literature or to music history itself, from which they draw something new with inner-musical references or formal experiments, whether they deal with their own medical history or take the risk of ‘composing with four hands’ – all this can be experienced at Ultraschall Berlin 2023.
Premieres and first performances will be set in relation to works of recent music history, but also to works that have already become ‘classics’ of the post-war avant-garde. For example, there are 57 years between the two string trios by Helmut Lachenmann that the trio recherche will perform. Creating such historical ‘echo chambers’ and not just focusing on the new has always been a curatorial principle of Ultraschall Berlin and also characterises this year’s festival.
In two concerts, the festival takes up the trend towards large-scale forms, towards full-length projects, which has been noticeable for some years now. Stefan Prins explores the phenomenon of feedback in his work for the Ensemblekollektiv Berlin. Leopold Hurt and the Decoder Ensemble deal with the principle of ‘remix’ in the field of music as well as language.
The Decoder Ensemble is making its debut at the festival, as are Muriel Razavi and the duo Sarah Saviet / Joseph Houston. There will be reunions with the Zafraan Ensemble and the Ensemble Resonanz, among others.
With three concerts, the orchestra is once again a mainstay of the festival programme this year. The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin have been part of Ultraschall Berlin from the very beginning and prove the enormous importance of the orchestras of the broadcasting corporations, especially for contemporary music.
The festival programme will be supplemented by talks with musicians and composers, and our UltraschallReporter school project will be continued.
One of our performance venues, however, is new. For the first time, Ultraschall Berlin is a guest in the silent green Kulturquartier, with concerts and a lecture in the Kuppelsaal as well as in the Betonhalle.
One festival, two stations and a wealth of musical discoveries. We look forward to seeing you!