Music & clubs

Raising the baton

Whether old, new or way-out, orchestral and contemporary music fans will get an earful this month with both Musikfest (Aug 31-Sep 18) and Contemporary Music Month (all of Sep).

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Isang Yun. Photo by Hans Poelkow

Whether old, new or way-out, orchestral and contemporary music fans will get an earful this month.

Musikfest (Aug 31-Sep 18) lays a focus on two major anniversaries this year. Italian pre-Baroque opera maestro Claudio Monteverdi was born 450 years ago; catch his main works L’Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Philharmonie over three nights (Sep 2, 3, 5). Meanwhile, Korean composer and onetime Berliner Isang Yun would’ve turned 100 on September 17, and Musikfest is marking his birthday with concerts (including a matinee from South Korea’s Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra), talks and a documentary screening.

The rest of the fest is split between the usual suspects (Mozart, Brückner, all three Bs) and (relatively) fresh faces. In addition to Rebecca Saunders’ world premiere of Yes (Sep 9), a wild soprano and chamber music interpretation of Molly Bloom’s monologue from the last chapter of Ulysses, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam takes the stage (Sep 6) for a performance that includes Wolfgang Rihm’s haunting In-Schrift, composed in 1995 for the San Marco Basilica in Venice – where, by the way, Monteverdi also roamed until his death. The next day, vaunted “bad boy” conductor Teodor Currentzis leads his Russia-based ensemble MusicAeterna through a programme anchored by Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna.

Many of these concerts fall under the umbrella of Contemporary Music Month, a new effort brought to us by the Initiative Neue Musik comprising 1000 musicians, 50 venues and all definitions of “contemporary”: from classical to experimental sound art (the Kontakt 17 festival at AdK, Sep 28-Oct 1) to jazz (South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo on Sep 28) to, this being Berlin, clubby electronics (the Bergfest at ACUD, Sep 16) and much more. To make sense of all the contemporary criss-crossing, check out the full programmes at and

Musikfest, Aug 31-Sep 18 | see website for full programme

Contemporary Music Month, throughout Sep | see website for full programme