The Bamberg Symphony encore! Project
On its countless tours, an orchestra like the Bamberg Symphony is regularly asked by enthusiastic audiences to play an encore. For such eventualities, we have a satchelful of ever-greens which we can trot out: Slavonic or Hungarian Dances by Dvořák or Brahms, waltzes by Johann Strauss and so on. We love playing them and audiences love hearing them – but sometimes, we just can't face them yet again. And some works in the symphonic repertoire are impossible to follow with something so »banal«.
Therefore, in May 2014, the Orchestra pressed start on a project which runs for the next few years. We set several contemporary composers a challenge: write the Orchestra an encore – a real hit, to send the audience home on just as much of a high as those warhorses by Dvořák, Brahms and Johann Strauss. In other words, reinvent this concert-hall ritual for the 21st century, and write something ultra-modern that's also – in the best sense – entertaining and practical.
For the third season running we’re throwing out the old concert routine, and playing something new and contemporary, instead of something old and hackneyed. We’ve commissioned works, none more than five minutes long, which try to get contemporary composition heard in an unusual context: not as the »difficult« work before the interval or at the start of a concert, but as the cherry on the cake after the official programme is finished. And it seems to work every time: you can feel the excitement as the applause refuses to die down, and then something the world has never yet heard strikes every ear in the audience. So far, 11 encores have come in – from renowned composers such as Hans Abrahamsen, Chaya Czernowin, Georg Friedrich Haas, David Lang, Mauricio Sotelo and Erkki-Sven Tüür.
So both our audiences and our Orchestra are getting a wide sample of what’s happening right now in new music – in homeopathic doses, yes, but we’re right up to date with what it means to engage with concert-goers’ demands for sophisticated entertainment these days. And along the way we keep discovering really great music. Just a few weeks ago, on his 90th birthday, the great Friedrich Cerha presented us with a Bagatelle for Orchestra, which we’re sure to be playing a lot! There’ll be more encores in the coming season, penned by international composers: Jonathan Dove and Emily Howard from Britain, the Franco-German Mark Andre as well as the doyen Alexander Goehr, have all earmarked pieces for us.
So, dear listeners: let your ears be first to experience these encores!