The training of young instrumentalists and singers is a vitally important part of the work of Thomas Hengelbrock and his ensembles as a way to share valuable knowledge with the next generations of artists and to pass on the ideals of the Balthasar Neumann family into the future. With a holistic approach, the upcoming generation of musicians receive a comprehensive musical training in various academy programmes and are inspired to help shape the classical music scene and make it fit for the future. Intensive cultural exchange, individual support for young instrumentalist and singers and direct communication of the Balthasar Neumann values, are at the heart of the Academy’s philosophy.
Taking responsibility today for tomorrow is a special concern of our Balthasar Neumann Ensemble and Thomas Hengelbrock: „Culture is not, as some people think, an expendable luxury item. Culture is the foundation and breeding ground of a humane, enlightened and efficient civil society. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to pass on our knowledge of art and culture to the next generations.“ Thomas Hengelbrock
To become (sth.): to develop, unfold and shape.
The new campus courses „Becoming“at the Balthasar Neumann Academy, supported by the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, was created to provide young musicians a space to unfold and develop as individuals both musically and intellectually. The aim of “Becoming” is to help develop the personalities of these young musicians so that they go on to become inspiring ambassadors for culture, art and societal solidarity.
„Becoming“ goes far beyond the usual training found at European music academies. The campus courses offer holistic support and are in keeping with the basic tenets of the Balthasar Neumann identity: being attentive and flexible, acting with foresight and decisiveness, and looking to the future with curiosity. The participants come into direct contact with the musical ideas of the Balthasar Neumann ensembles, feel their spirit and rehearse and perform side by side with the professionals. At the same time, the young musicians deepen their theoretical knowledge in a variety of courses on aspects of historical performance practice, music-aesthetic questions and modern methodological approaches.
„Becoming“also has something special in store for the audience: open rehearsals with commentary, opportunities to meet the musicians and special concert introductions, are just a few examples. At the centre of all this is the desire to offer accessible opportunities for participation, to open up access to artistic creation at the highest level and to actively involve the audience. All works are therefore presented by the musicians and Thomas Hengelbrock in such a way that their essence and significance for our lives today becomes clear - without neglecting the original sound.
The Singers' Academy gives young singers the opportunity to experience community, develop their own ideas and sing side by side with the professionals of the Balthasar Neumann Choir. Since the majority of music academies focus on soloist training, the Singer’s Academy has set itself the task of preparing young people specifically for singing in a choir or vocal ensemble. The focus is on the special Balthasar Neumann Choir sound: singing is done without vibrato with the aim to merge all the voices into one.
In addition to Lionel Sow, Detlef Bratschke and Jakob Pilgram, vocal coaches from the ranks of the Balthasar Neumann Choir are responsible for training the academy members. External experts from selected disciplines also accompany the young singers on their way - also beyond the pure individual lessons and singing in the choir or ensemble. Of course, joint concerts and opera performances are also part of the academy programme: the academy members take part in various projects of the Balthasar Neumann Choir and thus get a taste of the stage among the professionals. The participants of the Singers' Academy can also be heard regularly in their own concerts.
Thomas Hengelbrock and the Balthasar Neumann ensembles’ commitment to promoting young talent in the ranks of both the choir and orchestras is not just limited there - since 2023, their attention has also turned to guiding and nurturing young conductors with the launch of the Balthasar Neumann Conductors’ Academy. Under the guidance of Thomas Hengelbrock, they study choral and orchestral works in courses lasting several days and gain comprehensive insights into the work of a conductor - from rehearsal planning to the concert.
They come into direct contact with Thomas Hengelbrock’s special way of working and learn to grasp the intentions of individual composers as deeply as possible and to view their works holistically. The Conductors' Academy offers the unique opportunity to gain authentic conducting experience at the highest musical level within the framework of individual or combined projects of the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Orchestra and to exchange ideas with international freelance musicians and singers. Experimentation and daring risk taking is expressly encouraged here!
Through the power of our music making, we wish to connect and communicate with a wide range of people that might not traditionally be exposed to classical music and in turn contribute and participate in the wider society. This is the defining aim of the Balthasar Neumann family and is precisely why various school and social projects are an integral part of the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble’s work.
Children of all ages and school types experience rehearsals at close quarters at all residences and work closely with the professional musicians and Thomas Hengelbrock. The elixir of our work is to show the relevance of the music of past times for today and to inspire even the youngest children. In this way, classical music is carried forward into the world of tomorrow and can fascinate and inspire future generations.
The Balthasar Neumann Family is also involved in social institutions: by organising benefit concerts, it makes a financial contribution on the one hand, and on the other it creates public awareness for important organisations and institutions and is present on the ground with both an open ear and helping hand.