Teodor Currentzis’ musicAeterna Opens First International Residency
Teodor Currentzis and his musicAeterna team will present an entirely new project in Lucerne in February: the first international residency. This shows how unprecedented devotion and total immersion can lead to an original, non-mainstream project. musicAeterna’s residency is more than just a concert programme. It is a creative “laboratory” which allows the audience to join the musicians in their exploration of academic music and other areas of art. Performances by the musicAeterna orchestra and choir, which will encompass music from baroque to modern pieces, will be accompanied by an educational programme incorporating all one might need to fully understand the repertoire: from baroque dance master classes to podium discussion. The KKL Lucerne, one of the world’s top 10 concert halls, is musicAeterna’s partner in this project.
Described as “splendid”, “unique” and “incredibly coordinated”, musicAeterna is one of the world’s most in-demand music ensembles. It has gained fame as an orchestra that can easily handle any kind of repertoire, be it classical music pieces or experimental works by modern avant-garde composers. Founded by the Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis in Novosibirsk in 2004, the ensemble has existed for 15 years as an art society — a team of like-minded visionaries showcasing absolute devotion to achieving perfect sound quality.
In autumn 2019, Teodor Currentzis and musicAeterna chose Saint Petersburg as their main base of activity. The home residency of musicAeterna was founded in the historical city centre at the old Dom Radio building which broadcasted Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in autumn 1941 and Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony in August 1942. It is here — in this labyrinth of endless corridors, in pre-1900’s galleries, in dimly lit halls of the Soviet era — that rehearsals of the orchestra and choir take place, young composers create their new pieces of music and well-respected musicians and philosophers share their knowledge with listeners. In experimental studios, artists follow their taste and intuition to create works that go against popular trends and opinions.
Starting from February 2021, the best projects created at musicAeterna’s headquarter will be presented all around the world. The ensemble is setting up its residencies in cities where the level of creative energy is particularly high and where art is in great demand: Moscow, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Lucerne, New York, Tokyo, London. In these cities, the musicAeterna orchestra and choir become an integral part of the cultural environment by giving frequent performances, putting on educational programmes, and focusing on alternative projects in music and theatre. The residencies aim at attracting artists, visionaries and audience members fascinated by new modern art phenomena from all around the world.
Lucerne is going to become musicAeterna’s first international art residency. On February 18 — 20, Teodor Currentzis and his musicians will be exploring academic music and other areas of modern art together with the audience. The ensemble will present a repertoire from the Baroque era to the present day. All three days of music will be accompanied by an educational programme. Open rehearsals, master classes, round tables and performances invite the audience to join the musicians in exploring the meaning and expressive capabilities concealed in music while also becoming familiar with the cultural and historical context of the pieces performed.
The residency will open on February 18, 2021 with master classes by musicAeterna’s Afanasy Chupin (violin, concertmaster) and Alexey Zhilin (cello). Having spent many years working with Teodor Currentzis, the two musicians will share their professional experience and provide insight into musicAeterna’s creative methods and philosophy.
On the same day, the orchestra will play Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor — one of the most grandiose works in its genre which masterfully combines the archaic solemnity of a sacred mass with the lively, eloquent beauty of an Italian opera. The programme will be performed by musicAeterna for the first time. Before hearing the final result, the audience is welcome to witness the nuances of Currentzis’ interpretation at the open rehearsal.
On February 19, 2021, the residency will focus on modern academic music. Produced upon the request of Teodor Currentzis and performed by the musicAeterna choir, Tristia — Hersant’s choral opera set to lyrics written by prisoners, an experiment combining social work and art practices — will be one of the programme’s highlights. As Philippe Hersant puts it, “Tristia is unlike any other musical form in existence. Upon first glance it may look like a series of short songs, small self-contained forms that could be performed in separation. The songs are very different from each other — musically, rhythmically, lyrically — and may even seem contrasting. But they are all interconnected on a more delicate level: they share common musical themes.”
The podium discussion on faith, freedom and light will resume after the performance as a public talk featuring guest experts, and any willing audience members. After the discussion, Teodor Currentzis will meet with the audience to answer questions.
The residency will conclude on February 20, 2021 with one of the highlights of musicAeterna’s repertoire: The Sound of Light, a collection of select vocal and instrumental pieces by 18th-century French baroque master Jean-Philippe Rameau. Sophistication, drive, fine sonic touches, exquisitely complex rhythms, well-thought dramaturgy and unfettered improvisation — all the key features of Rameau’s music are carefully preserved in musicAeterna’s performance. The New York Times put musicAeterna’s 2014 Rameau anthology (released by Sony Classical) on its list of best music recordings of 2015, while The Times described the recording as a great gift for any music-loving intellectual looking for fresh impressions. In Teodor Currentzis’ own words, Rameau’s music is “the best way to explain light to someone who has never seen the sun”. Before that, everyone is invited to a baroque dance master class by Tanya Skok, Slovenian choreographer and dance instructor. With her help, the audience will become acquainted with the basic baroque dance figures and will get a clearer view of the rhythmical structure which Rameau solidifies in his scores.