Alphorn concert 09/12/2020
On September 12, 2020 at 5 p.m., the Dresden Symphony Orchestra will meet the challenges of the Corona pandemic in its own way with an unprecedented concert: numerous alphorns and other brass instruments will play from the highest roofs in Dresden, transforming the Prohlis district into a fictitious Alpine panorama. The composer Markus Lehmann-Horn has written a new work especially for this purpose, which, like the other pieces of the evening, breaks the narrow boundaries of the classical concert hall and brings people together. Already in the morning, the 33 musicians of the Dresden Symphony Orchestra will play in smaller groups in the courtyards of the residential district, inviting the residents to the free concert later in the afternoon.
Musical experiences beyond the mainstream
The setting is spectacular: sixteen alphorns, nine trumpets, four tubas and four Dà Gǔ drums fill an entire residential neighborhood with sound. At a height of almost 50 meters, on the roofs of four 17-story buildings, the alphorn players are positioned - each in a quartet in the tunings e-flat, f-flat and s-flat. On other high-rise roofs, trumpets and tubas provide further timbres and enrich the ensemble's playing possibilities. Acting as a sound base (and also spatially grounded) are four Chinese Dà Gǔ drums plus percussion - set up on the parking deck of the central shopping center. The music of this concert makes use of the spatial distance, several hundred meters between the players, the basic motif is the communication of the instrument groups. This is exactly what the alphorn stands for: the interplay over long distances in the mountains. However, we are in the expansive topography of a residential area - with imposing multi-story buildings, kindly made available to the Dresden Symphony Orchestra by Vonovia.
High tension from the first bar to the finale
The temporal horizon of the selected works is as broad as the scenery. The evening starts brilliantly with the radiantly moving fanfare that film composer John Williams wrote for the 1984 Olympics. In just under 5 minutes, one experiences a small miracle: the world comes together, puts quarrels and worries aside - and celebrates life! The following composition by the Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli disappeared 500 years earlier and is no less impressive. Brass groups send reveling chord blocks and virtuosic ornamentation from skyscraper to skyscraper. Finally, Markus Lehmann-Horn's new work becomes the highlight of the evening. It begins with quiet call signs of the alphorns, then uses all the technical possibilities of brass, percussion and the enormous concert space under the open sky. In a grand finale, the musical circle of the evening is closed.
Unique and new concert format
'Himmel über Prohlis' plays an entire residential district. The spatial dimension of the event alone makes it possible for musicians and audience alike to keep the minimum distances in times of the Corona pandemic and to experience music live again. The goal is to make Prohlis "audible" for many people with unusual sounds. In doing so, the Dresden Symphony Orchestra picks up its audience where they are at home: on a walk through their neighborhood or on the balconies of their apartments. On the central parking deck of the PROHLISZENTRUM, there is also the possibility of taking seats from which the high buildings all around can be easily seen.
About the Dresden Symphony Orchestra
This orchestra is unique. It is made up of great musicians from pretty much all the major European orchestras and only appears for specially initiated projects. Members of the Dresden Philharmonic and the Sächsische Staatskapelle make music together with colleagues from Berlin, London and Vienna. Ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and the Pet Shop Boys, guests such as Katharina Thalbach, Kayhan Kalhor, Andreas Boyde, Peter Bruns, René Pape and Bryn Terfel have already performed with the Dresden Symphony Orchestra. The symphony orchestra has received many awards for its outstanding work, including the UNESCO Special Prize World Horizon and the ECHO Klassik.
Of course, this orchestra is committed to its origins, which it bears in its name. But it is at home all over the world. It has performed in Athens, Berlin, London, Madrid and Paris, as well as in Armenia, Greece and Israel, on the border between Mexico and the USA, and in Turkey and the West Bank. To put it bluntly, the Dresden Symphony puts itself between all fronts and across all borders, both stylistically and politically.
Why do they do this to themselves? Because they don't want the world and the people to continue to suffer all that was done out of hatred and injustice, and from which only new hatred and new injustice will grow. Because they are convinced that inhuman actions must be made conscious in order to avoid future harm. With their visionary ideas and multimedia, interdisciplinary projects, the symphony orchestras stand for cosmopolitanism and tolerance and see themselves as mediators between different traditions and cultures. They know what civil courage and free thinking can achieve: Most of the orchestra's members experienced German reunification firsthand.
Using music to work for a better world, for a fairer world - that is not naïve, that is an honest commitment, fed by sympathy for what is happening around us. True to the conviction that there is no such thing as alien suffering, the Dresden Symphony Orchestra has dedicated and continues to dedicate its projects to abuses and massacres, to what separates and denies, but also to what unites and unites.
Text: Michael Ernst