• S. Loesser

Hope through music

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Two pianists defy the emotional lows of the Covid-19 pandemic by sharing and spreading hope to their audiences sitting at home in the form of grand classic musical highs.

The New Year has started and the corona situation is still far from being over. Every day we are exposed to new record breaking infection rates. For many, the Christmas holidays were a challenge of limiting one’s family gathering to a maximum of a few people – always accompanied by the fear that we might infect one of our loved ones after all. The few snowy winter days, yearned-for by children and adults alike, are overshadowed by the news of blocked streets and fined cars. All of these measures are of course necessary, we want to keep ourselves and those around us save, and try to unburden those that do so much for all of us at the moment: doctors, nurses, care takers and so many others.

Still, many of us are caught in a slow whirl of waiting, loneliness and expectation. How wonderful would it be to have a drink with a friend, watch a film in the cinema, a play in the theatre, celebrate life at a concert. Like so many other fields, the cultural sector and those working in and for it, are struggling. Empty cinema halls, cancelled concerts and festivals. Culture, which is so important, as it is a manifestation of socialised life itself – everything we have done, do and will do – does seem to be withdrawn from our hungry hearts.

However the New Year also starts with a silver ray of hope at its early horizon. Vaccinations have started and for many people this will yield the possibility to take a big step, maybe a little jump, back into the lives we want to live with others, as social beings, enjoying all that life has to give. In the meantime, many companies, organisations and individuals creatively keep coming up with alternatives to the usual social und cultural practices we engaged in the past years.

Two of such individuals are the Aachen pianist Florian Koltun and the Chinese pianist Xin Wang. They want to spread hope. Hope in the form of several online concerts in January and February, organised by the International Music Festival Eifel Musicale of which Koltun and Wang hold the artistic direction.

Both are repeatedly awarded musicians who regularly give concerts on big stages in Europe and Asia such as the Alte Oper Frankfurt, the Berliner Philharmonie, or the Wuhan Qintai Grand Theater. They have also been part of a large amount of international music festivals worldwide, including the International Festival KotorArt in Montenegro, the Deià International Music Festival in Spain, or the Palais Sommer in Dresden. They have worked with international orchestras from the Sinfonieorchester Aachen to the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of leading conductors, among which are Kazem Abdullah, James P. Liu, Juri Gilbo, Eduardo Strausser and Fuad Ibrahimov.

Now these two great artists come into our own four walls with special online concerts to reach out to all of us, sitting eagerly on our sofas and ready to be winged by the hopeful soul of music.

In January, two online concerts are planned for Sunday 10 January at 18:00 and for Sunday 24 January at 18:00. The concerts go under the meaningful names Hoffnung Teil 1 (Hope Part 1, 10 January) and Hoffnung Teil 2 (Hope Part 2, 24 January). Both concerts will be recorded and live streamed from the historical monastery Aukloster Monschau.

Hoffnung Teil 1 includes the Sonata for piano four-hands in D major KV 381 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the solo composition 32 Variations on an Original Theme in C minor, WoO 80 by Ludwig van Beethoven while Hoffnung Teil 2 features the Petit Suite by Claude Debussy and the Fantasia in F minor by Franz Schubert.

Photo: © Aukloster Monschau

A free link to the live stream as well as the full programme of Hoffnung Teil 1 and Hoffnung Teil 2 can be found on the Eifel Musicale’s official website. On top of that, in the end of January the new festival programme of Eifel Musicale 2021 will be published and, hopefully, will bestow us with new sublime musical experiences in the Eifelregion from April to September.

To end with, let us think about a special quote of Ludwig van Beethoven, who would have turned 250 last year and who seemingly knew the same doubts and insecurities that we do, which Xin Wang and Florian Koltun remind us of in their sensitive and empowering address to the audiences:

„Die Hoffnung nährt mich, sie nährt ja die halbe Welt, und ich habe sie mein Lebtag zur Nachbarin gehabt; was wäre sonst aus mir geworden?“
(“Hope nurtures me, nurtures half of the world, and in all my born days I had it as a neighbour; what would have become of me otherwise?”)

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