Eight Composition Commissions: Diktaturen – Geschichte und Gegenwart (Dictatorships –Past and Present)

KlangForum Heidelberg e.V., Heidelberg, Germany


One of the tasks of contemporary art is to counter the existence and toleration of dictatorships as a tool of politics and diplomacy and to demand civil rights like the freedom of expression and religion and the freedom to think differently. The project picks up on the historic case of the Tübingen student Elisabeth Käsemann – the classic dilemma of a morally obliged individual having to decide for or against the use of violence against unjust state systems as a form of resistance.

In remembrance of Käsemann’s death and also of today’s still persisting and indeed recent suffering of many direct and indirect victims of authoritarian dictatorships KlangForum Heidelberg has, with the support of the EvS Music Foundation, encouraged contemporary composers to explore the topic in artistic terms from varied biographical and cultural perspectives in the form of commissioned works. Intensely fostered by KlangForum Heidelberg’s ensembles the link to text-bound vocal and instrumental chamber music makes it possible to present a differentiated view of the highly charged relationship of individual fates and totalitarian systems – one that is very much in tune with the theme. All composers will rise to this challenge and add to it characteristic biographical background and perspectives. For instance, Hungarian-born Canadian-resident Daniel Péter Bíro has experienced different kinds of dictatorship; the Italian Aureliano Cattaneo deals with Italian fascism of the 30s; Alberto Hortigüela and José Sanchez-Verdú focalize Europe’s for the time being last dictatorship in their homeland of Spain; Xilin Wang, today one of the most renowned composers in the People’s Republic of China, frequently had to suffer repression under changing political circumstances also during the Cultural Revolution; Mithatcan Öcal as a Turkish artist faces particularly topical political and diplomatic problems; Argentine-born Erik Oña questions the hushing up of the so-called “desaparecidos” and the ability to set this to music; finally, in the commissioned work by German composer Karin Haußmann it will be Käsemann’s fate that itself forms the focus.


October 26 – 29, 2017
Stadthalle Heidelberg


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