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 fourth 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 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.
So far, 15 encores have come in – music of great variety, thrilling, virtuosic, witty, reflective pieces, proving that contemporary music can also be fun, and can hold its own alongside traditional encores by Dvořák or Brahms. Year on year, this is unlocking an overview of the highly diverse new music scene for our audience.
In the 2017/2018 season we unveil three new »encores«: by Thomas Daniel Schlee, Jörg Widmann and Walter Zimmermann.