The Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble are particularly keen to pass on their love of music to others. All involved find that instilling an enthusiasm for classical music in tomorrow’s concert audiences is a richly rewarding experience. Working on a piece of music within a group, learning to understand it and feeling oneself to be an important part of the whole within the framework of a performance are often the spark that triggers a lifelong fascination with music. As a result, many stages in the work of the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble include programmes and offers for schoolchildren. Children of all ages and from every type of school are able to experience the rehearsals at close quarters. They work closely with Thomas Hengelbrock and the professional musicians in his choir and ensemble and learn to regard the music of the past as something immediate and alive. Several examples of our work are included here.
We are very excited to launch a new cooperation project with the “Megaron”, the concert hall in Athsn. In the future, the Balthasar Neumann Academy and the Megaron are going to organize several music education activities related to the concerts of the Balthasar Neumann Ensembles in Athens. The first project is going to take place in January 2019 with a conducting masterclass by Thomas Hengelbrock for conducting students in Athens. Young musicians from different institutions will form a chamber orchestra and work on the repertoire of the young conductors with the help of musicians from the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble.
We would like to thank the Goethe Institute for supporting the conducting masterclass in Athens.
Cooperation with the Eppendorf University Clinic
The opportunity to encounter and engage with different art forms is an important part of the treatment of young psychiatric patients at the Eppendorf University Clinic (UKE), where such encounters complement other types of treatment. It is for this reason that, starting in the 2018/19 season, the Balthasar Neumann Academy is creating various opportunities to work with its members in Hamburg: the children and adolescents at the UKE will have the chance to attend rehearsals and concerts of the Balthasar Neumann Ensembles. Scholarship-holders at the Academy will also develop special concerts and other formats in which they can meet these young patients and help them at their workshops.
Rehearsals for Mozart’s Requiem
In recent years the Balthasar Neumann Academy’s school projects in Freiburg have repeatedly brought it into contact with the Markgräfler Grammar School in Müllheim, or, to be more precise, with the school’s committed music teacher Rolf Mandel and his fantastic young choristers. Early projects included Bach’s Magnificat, an exploration of the theme of a European Christmas and a joint concert with the Balthasar Neumann Choir in Bad Krozingen, all of which proved hugely exciting. In December 2017, members of the Balthasar Neumann Choir visited the school and took part in the rehearsals of the school choir on for Mozart’s Requiem that the young singers are going to perform in public in 2018. Together with Anja Bittner and Christine Süßmuth (soprano), Barbara Ostertag (alto), Bernd Lambauer (tenor) and Raimonds Spogis (bass), each group worked on intonation, phrasing and breathing. Once the sectionals were completed, all groups were brought together in a tutti rehearsal under the direction of Rolf Mandel.
Caribe Nostrum meets Droste-Orchestra
Spring brought a Caribbean atmosphere to the Droste-Gymnasium in Freiburg. The Caribe Nostrum Quintet from Cuba was touring Germany as part of the Cuban-European Youth Academy. The Cuban musicians performed in Frankfurt and Hamburg and in the music rooms of the Droste-School in Freiburg.
The members of the Quintet worked with pupils from the middle school, offering them an insight into the complex and exciting history of the music of their native Cuba and demonstrating typical rhythms, musical styles and types of dance. Under the guidance of Florian Schüle and the Cuban musicians, the school orchestra rehearsed a number of Cuban compositions by Jenny Peña, who is the Quintet’s leader and creative head. The music on which they had worked was presented to the general public at a sold-out final concert, when the enthusiasm of the schoolchildren, parents and teachers reflected the success of the project. Plans are already underway to work on a further such project. Other schools in Freiburg and Hamburg later expressed an interest in taking part in similar projects with the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble and will be able to do so in the course of the coming season.
Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” for children
One of the most recent projects of the Balthasar Neumann Ensembles for its young audience was a special Christmas concert with an adapted version Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. The presenter Christina Dean spent an hour taking her little listeners on a fantastic journey through the Christmas story and explaining the events depicted by the music: Bach’s wonderful music was linked to the events surrounding the birth of Christ. At this very special Christmas concert under the direction of Rolf Mandel, active involvement was writ large, for not only the school choirs lent their support to the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Ensemble but the children in the audience were also drawn into the action, taking over the stage of St John’s Church.