Kent Nagano & Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg Offer Video Micro Concerts Featuring Vocal Performances

By Chris Ruel

With the pandemic came innovation, particularly in using video to present works. Renowned conductor Kent Nagano and the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra explored the medium to create Micro concerts—bite-size, half-hour audiovisual performances that take their cue more from pop music visuals than from staid, traditional concert films.

The videos are available for viewing for free until October 22, 2022.

Five compact programs feature music from a wide range of composers, including Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Webern, Debussy, Bartók, and many others, totaling 25 works. Each program represents a thematic block corresponding to the phases of the pandemic.

The videos use found footage, avatars such as an animated Kent Nagano, distorted orchestra footage, and webcam recordings. Video artists include Luis August Krawen, Jonas Englert, Zbig Rybczyński/Dorota Zglobicka, Kamila B. Richter/Michael Bielicky, and Virgil Widrich.

Joining the Orchestra are members of the Hamburg State Opera ensemble Hellen Kwon, Gabriele Rossmanith, Kristina Stanek, Kady Evanyshyn, and Bernhard Hansky, singing works by Bartók and Schoenberg. Invited ensembles include the Harvestehude Chamber Choir and the Rundfunkchor Berlin, who perform pieces by Brahms and Schoenberg. Micro concert featured soloists include Klaus Florian Vogt, singing Mahler’s “Von der Jugend,” and Katharina Konradi, Jana Kurucová, and Georg Nigl performing Ligeti’s “Nouvelles aventures.”

“The Micro concerts are a kind of musical UFO, not resembling any known project. Each concert transports a message and tells a story showing how deeply music is rooted in society today—a special project, modern in structure and form, that could only have happened during the pandemic. The visualization makes each Micro concert a real creation,” said Nagano in a press statement.

Accompanying the videos is an essay written by musicologist William Kinderman, which explains the dramaturgical thought behind the concerts. The complete essay is available on the Philharmonic State Orchestra and Hamburg Opera websites.