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la Biennale di Venezia

57th International Art Exhibition

Open to the public at the Giardini and Arsenale venues (10 am to 6 pm, closed on Mondays)
57th International Art Exhibition

57th International Art Exhibition

Open to the public from 13th May to 26th November 2017, Giardini and Arsenale venues
57th International Art Exhibition

The programs for 2017 of the performing arts departments

Biennale Danza / Biennale Teatro / Biennale Musica (from June to October 2017)
The programs for 2017 of the performing arts departments

News

The programs of the Dance Theatre Music departments

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04 | 06 | 2017

The programmes for the live performance departments of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, will take place this year from June to October, and specifically:
from June 23rd to July 1st, the 11th International Festival of Contemporary Dance will be directed by Marie Chouinard and titled First Chapter; the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Dance will be awarded to American dancer and choreographer Lucinda Childs, the Silver Lion to Canadian performance artist and choreographer Dana Michel;
– from July 25th to August 12th, the 45th International Theatre Festival will be titled Act one: DIRECTOR, following the programme by Director Antonio Latella; the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement for this edition of the Festival is German set designer Katrin Brack; the Silver Lion is Polish director Maja Kleczewska;
– from September 29th to October 8th the 61st International Festival of Contemporary Music will be titled Est! and directed by Ivan Fedele; the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music is Chinese composer Tan Dun; the Silver Lion has been awarded to Japanese composer Dai Fujikura.
 
Paolo Baratta issued the following statement:
"The three programmes are inspired by a common orientation. Each is focused on specific ways of conceiving directing for the theatre and the choreographic approach to dance, while in the case of music the focus will be on music from a specific part of the world, the East, the great Orient. For the Biennale, these are important choices as it seeks to qualify its role as a centre of research.
This is a particular way of understanding the festival, which showcases the participants for the interest that each of them represents, so that they may conceivably be invited to present more than one production; directors of whom we wish to understand the evolution, choreographers of whom we wish to understand a consistent approach applied to various experiences; while for music, beyond the special focus on a specific region of the world, there is great openness towards a diversity of musical genres which we pursue in our search for quality.
Of particular interest – continued Baratta – are the developments of the Biennale College in each of the three Departments.
The College is open not only to dancers but for the first time ever to choreographers as well, not just to actors but also to directors, whereas for music we are strengthening our commitment to propose and produce three works of musical theatre.
All three represent the first act, the first chapter, the first step down a path that will continue to apply the same methodology and, thanks to the coherence of its intent, constitute a very important chapter in the history of the Biennale".
 
 
BIENNALE DANZA
Organized from June 23rd to July 1st, the 11th International Festival of Contemporary Dance will include a 9-day schedule of events featuring up to 5 performances daily; there will be 26 choreographic works, 9 of which will be Italian premiere performances and 1 European premiere, in addition to 3 short original creations, works developed by the choreographers of the Biennale College – Dance and 1 new creation by Benoît Lachambre conceived for the young dancers of the Biennale College; 15 artists have been invited, many of whom are the authors of several titles; finally there will be a cycle of film screenings and encounters between the artists and the audience at the end of each performance.
 
The performances
The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement 2017, American choreographer Lucinda Childs will inaugurate the Festival on June 23rd (Teatro alle Tese) with three classics from her repertory: Dance, the manifesto of the abstract minimalism she pioneered which was destined to influence generations of dancers. The performance, which grew out of Childs' collaboration with Sol LeWitt and Philip Glass, will be presented in Italy for the first time with the rigorously black and white film-décor that American artist LeWitt created in 1979. The other two works by Childs will be adapted to the outdoor space of Campo Sant'Agnese: Katema and Dance II, originally two solos that Childs has developed into works for an ensemble.
Another triptych of performances will focus on Alessandro Sciarroni, one of the most revolutionary performance artists and choreographers in Europe, interested in all the practices of the body – sports disciplines, circus arts, trades – which he uses as a starting point to build choreographies that are often an act of physical resistance on the stage. Featured in Venice will be Chroma (24 June, Teatro alle Tese), in its Italian premiere performance following its debut in Paris, Aurora (25 June, Teatro alle Tese) and Folk-s (25 June, Teatro alle Tese).
Coming to Italy for the first time is Clara Furey, born in Paris but of Canadian descent, an artist who works on projects that blur the boundaries between choreography, music and performance. Untied Tales (24 June, Sale d'Armi), an Italian premiere performance created with Slovakian dancer and choreographer Peter Jasko, explores the relationship between fiction and reality, and the coexistence of two artistic languages that come together without cancelling each other.
Returning to the Biennale will be Louise Lecavalier, who for 18 years was a formidable performer for La La La Human Steps: this time she will be in Venice in the twin role of choreographer and dancer with So Blue (24 June, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), in a performance with Frédéric Tavernini. At the centre of this whirlwind duo is the body "in constant search, swift as thought, that transgresses its limits to transcend itself; body that becomes breath, energy, light... Body that traces its own path, struggles, gives up, bounces back and disappears into space" (L. Lecavalier).
In the performances of Belgian Lisbeth Gruwez, trained as a classical dancer before joining Jan Fabre's company, and later the co-founder of the Voetwolk ensemble, sound and movement are interdependent. In We're pretty fuckin' far from okay (25 June, Tese dei Soppalchi), an Italian premiere performance, Gruwez focuses on the mechanisms of physiological and psychological fear, turning the body into a sounding board for our most primitive and universal emotions.
An excellent example of Marie Chouinard's dance, in which every gesture is thought, is her most recent Soft virtuosity, still humid, on the edge (27 June, Teatro alle Tese), performed by her company, an excursus into the many forms of walking (breathless, limping, unbridled, amusing, en pointe and demi-pointe...), a journey across the stage and across the world.
Considered a promise of Dutch dance, having worked with the Elisa Monte Co., Galili Dance and Charleroi Dance before moving into choreography and founding WArdWaRD in 2000, Ann Van den Broek will present The Black Piece (26 June, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale). The production brings 5 performers onto the stage and plunges them into almost total darkness, pierced by flashes of light orchestrated by Van den Broek to highlight fragments, presences, perspectives, letting the space be shaped by the sounds that the spectator perceives.
One of the most original figures now capturing the attention of the international press, Dana Michel, the Afro-American choreographer from Ottawa and winner of the Silver Lion 2017, comes to Venice and the Biennale Danza for the first time. Dana Michel is an artist who draws on her own autobiography as the source of her experimentation: "making work by tapping into my life experiences is the most effective path to self-knowledge and to meaningful connection with others", she has stated. Her works are distinguished by a sort of "post-cultural bricolage" using live moments, object appropriation, fragments of personal history, desires and current preoccupations to create an empathetic centrifuge of experience between the artist and the spectators. Like in Yellow Towel (27 June, Tese dei Soppalchi, 7:30 pm), an Italian premiere performance, in which Michel stigmatizes and subverts the stereotypes of blackculture.
Daina Ashbee's mixed roots (she was born in 1990 to a native American father and a Dutch mother) influence her choreographic language, which borrows from both contemporary dance and tradition, addressing themes with powerful social impact, often concerning the female body, in which she breaks centuries-old taboos. "The art of dance brings me closer to my own body and to the awareness of my own thoughts and processes". At the Biennale she will present the Italian premiere performances of Unrelated (29 June, Teatro alle Tese) and the European premiere of When the ice melts, will we drink the water? (29 June, Tese dei Soppalchi).
On stage since the 1970s, Benoît Lachambre has worked with many artists – Meg Stuart, Boris Charmatz, Sasha Waltz, Louise Lecavalier, Marie Chouinard – and has received commissions from the major dance ensembles, including the Cullberg Ballet. Lifeguard (30 June, Sale d'Armi, 5:30 pm) will make its Italian debut at the Biennale: this is a piece that seeks to create an intimate space in which the spectator plays an important role, a performing action that changes depending on the space and the spectators.
La Biennale reserves the space of a beautiful solo for another important figure in contemporary dance, Xavier Le Roy. A champion of European anti-choreography, Le Roy transforms dance into a mental and philosophical space, into scientific research. Anti-choreography, a product of radical thinking that refuses representational theatre, is expressed in conceptual operations or resolved in ironic gestures in which everything is dance, like in the solo work Self Unfinished.
Working on a wholly different front than Leroy is Robyn Orlin, one of the most controversial and provocative artists who has redesigned South Africa's choreography and performance arts, her stage is a place where the universes of whites and blacks with their relative stereotypes often collide, like in her latest production, a kind of "political cabaret" titled And so you see... our honorable blue sky and ever enduring sun... can only be consumed slice by slice... (1 July, Tese dei Soppalchi), to be presented in its Italian premiere performance.
The 2017 Biennale Danza will end with a performance rich in echoes: Gustavia (1 July, Teatro alle Tese), the result of the complicity between Mathilde Monnier, the pioneer of French dance, and La Ribot, a performer from Madrid who now lives in Geneva, known for her series of "Distinguished Pieces". Gustavia is also the only female character brought to the stage by two women, a two-faced portrait, played out in tones of comedy and irony.
 
Biennale College – Dance
Conceived to promote young talents by having them work in close contact with the masters to develop creations, during the festivalthis year Biennale College – Dance will present the results of two intensive and structured experiences, one dedicated to the art of dance, and one dedicated for the first time to the art of choreography; the latter offers 3 new choreographers the unique opportunity to develop an original creation at least 12 minutes long. The 3 new choreographers will work with professional dancers who have significant experience, for a period of 6-weeks, ending with a presentation to the public of the 3 original creations in one single evening, as part of the 11th International Festival of Contemporary Dance of the Biennale di Venezia.
– On June 28th at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale (at 9:30 pm), 3 short original choreographies will be presented, created by Irina Baldini, 29 years old, from Italy; Chloe Chignell, 24 years old, from Australia; Joaquìn Collado Parreño, 26 years old, from Spain.
The three choreographers will be in Venice from May 16th to June 27th. Following a preliminary phase in which they will study William Forsythe's creative process, for 6 weeks each of them will work on their own creation with 7 professional dancers. Throughout the different phases of research, elaboration, and development of the 3 creations, Irina Baldini, Chloe Chignell, Joaquìn Collado Parreño will have the opportunity to work with experts such as Elizabeth Waterhouse, trained at the American Ballet and for 9 years a dancer with the Ballet Frankfurt/The Forsythe Company; Hildegard de Vuyst, a dramaturgist for Platel's les ballets C de la B then for the Royal Flemish Theatre; Catherine Schaub Abkarian, actress, director, dancer, who worked for many years with Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil.
– On June 26th in the Sale d'Armi (at 7:30 pm) the 15 selected dancers will make their debut as the protagonists of an excerpt from the work on Sider by William Forsythe and a new creation that Benoît Lachambre has conceived specifically for the Biennale College.
The selected dancers (22 Italian, 2 American, 1 French, 1 Australian) will be in Venice from April 4th to June 26th to follow an integrated process of training and interpretation. The training will focus on the awareness of the body or somatic approach, with Judith Koltai (Authentic Movement), Tom Koch (Alexander Technique), Nora Benian (Yin Yoga), Maria Raffaella Dalla Valle (Feldenkrais). The training will consist in the practice of contemporary dance techniques, focusing on the Forsythe method, and an exploration of movement with Katja Cheraneva, Frances Chiaverini, Josh Johnson, Roberta Mosca and David Kern, all former dancers with William Forsythe, who will guarantee the transmission between master and student. For the interpretation, the dancers will work with Benoît Lachambre on a new work and with Forsythe's former dancers on the interpretation of a work in the repertoire.
 
Events in Campo Sant'Agnese
"I want to bring dance into the heart of the city, to the passers-by, the tourists, to suddenly offer the dancers, in movement, during a walk, a white dance mat spread out on the ground, at the centre of a city square, about twenty minutes, without music, like a flash of spontaneous poetry recited by a body that gives itself." wrote Marie Chouinard to the choreographers she invited to participate in the "events" in Campo Sant'Agnese (Zattere).
The surprises for the public will be provided by the outdoor performances in the square by Dana Michel, Benoît Lachambre, and by the dancers and choreographers of the Biennale College – Dance. The events in Campo Sant'Agnese will also feature the afore-mentioned Katema and Dance II by Lucinda Childs and the performance of In museum by the Compagnie Marie Chouinard.
 
Film screenings and encounters
To perceive the art of choreography in every human expression: this is the red line that connects Marie Chouinard's personal choices for the films to be screened in this edition of the Festival: from Mr. Gaga to Ten Meter Tower, films united by the expertise with which the artists have organized time and space in their works.
A cycle of encounters with the choreographers invited to the Festival will be held in the afternoons and at the close of the live performances.
 
We wish to thank the Embassy of Canada/Focus Canada 150 and the Delegation of Québec in Rome.
 
 
 
BIENNALE TEATRO
The 45th International Theatre Festival will take place from July 25th to August 12th following a programme conceived by the new director Antonio Latella. The focus will be on directors, with a survey of European theatre to be seen through the works of 9 women directors from Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Holland and Estonia, most of them around 40 years old, with a consolidated artistic career. To each of them the Festival will dedicate a sort of portrait, consisting in 2 to 4 performances, almost all of them Italian premiere performances, that will trace their creative process. "This year – stated Antonio Latella – the line-up of performances, and hence the creation of mini-personal exhibitions, have shown that it is easier, even when time is short and especially with women directors, to perceive the birth, or better yet the evolution of languages. This has obviously stimulated us, for our first Biennale, and as we open our doors onto the next four years, to give the entry pass to women directors. Many of them with a deep critical sense, capable of very naturally developing the union of languages that serve as a bridge between the past century and this one. We have found this concentration on research into language, especially in women directors, to be a requirement, a non-gratuitous necessity that never arises from an aspiration to fame or a career, but a sincere creative urgency".
 
The performances
43 years old, from Krakow, Maja Kleczewska, considered one of the most significant figures in Polish theatre, in a line that leads from Kantor to Lupa and Warlikowski (for whom she served as an assistant), has been awarded the Silver Lion 2017. In Venice, she will inaugurate the Festival with The Rage (25 and 26 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), from the eponymous play by Elfriede Jelinek, who began to write it after the massacre of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
"A dangerous heroine of ritual performances and videos centred on the body, (...) whose fascination is based on the physical reactions provoked in the observer": this is Ene-Liis Semper, born in Tallin in 1969, an acclaimed video artist, performer and director who represented Estonia at the Visual Arts Biennale in 2001. Her interdisciplinary work was critical for the development of Theatre NO99, founded in 2005 with Tiit Ojasoo, co-author of most of the company's productions for the theatre, invited to Festivals throughout Europe, from Avignon to the Ruhr Triennale, from the Wiener Festwochen to the Golden Mask in Moscow. She has been invited to the Biennale Teatro with two productions. Filth (26 July, Teatro alle Tese) and El Dorado, the Clowns' Raid of Destruction (27 July, Tese dei Soppalchi).
A sequence of four productions will be presented by French director Nathalie Béasse (Angers, 1971), who like Semper can rely on a multidisciplinary education which led her to experiment with the sculptural and performing arts, before carrying out her research with her own company, founded in 1999, which questions the relationship between body and object, the structure of narration, the boundaries between theatre and dance. The legacy of her artistic training may be seen in her attention to theatre as a material that can be shaped, a vehicle for feelings and images, in a constant shift between reality and the imagination. Le bruit des arbres qui tombent (28 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), Tout semblait immobile (30 July, Teatro alle Tese), Roses (29 July, Tese dei Soppalchi), Happy Child (31 July, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale) are the four titles in the line-up.
The trilogy by Maria Grazia Cipriani covers a creative span of over 30 years. Founder of the Teatro del Carretto with costume and set designer Graziano Gregori, together they have toured the world with her unique theatre, based on the concept of metamorphosis, of the fusion between the world of fairy-tales and reality, between the flesh and blood of actors and the mask. With her stories that span the centuries, from myth to fairytale to the origins of theatre, Maria Grazia Cipriani has built perfect theatrical machines to reveal unexpected turns in these stories and to transform theatre into "a very serious game" (M. Grande). The trilogy will include the play-manifesto Biancaneve (1 August, Teatro alle Tese), then Pinocchio (1 August, Teatro alle Tese), interpreted as Geppetto's dream, a journey into the darkest zones of the conscience, and finally Le mille e una notte (2 and 3 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), the endless, elaborate story, as complex as Chinese nested boxes, told by the Vizir's daughter.
Livia Ferracchiati, thirty-one years old, studied directing at the Paolo Grassi school in Milan, from which she graduated in 2014, and after earning a degree in drama from the Università La Sapienza in Rome, made her debut with the original plays Ti auguro un fidanzato come Nanni Moretti, and Sex Workers. These plays trace a path divided into "themes", themes that can be easily mystified, that are unfamiliar, and require documentation, investigations in the field. Todi is a small town in the center of Italy (2 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), for example, is an investigation into the Italian province, into the limits that social control imposes on individual freedoms. In Venice, there will also be a performance of the first two chapters of the Trilogy about identity, a step by step sequence that explores the experience of the dichotomy between the body and the mind in terms of gender identity, focusing more precisely on the anxiety of living in a body that one does not perceive as one's own: Peter Pan guarda sotto le gonne (3 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), a semi-finalist in the Premio Scenario competition, and Stabat Mater (4 August, Tese dei Soppalchi, 6 pm).
A director of prose theatre and lyric opera, thirty-eight year-old Anna Sophie Mahler, who lives in Zurich, founded her own company CapriConnection in 2006, with which she experimented with an original idea of play-score, distinguished by the use of documentary material interwoven with music and images, which she presented in the major theatres in the German cultural area. Tristan oder Isolde (4 August, Teatro alle Tese) is professedly a pastiche, developed on the basis of the remnants of Anna Viebrock's set for the opera by Wagner directed by Marthaler, for whom Mahler served as an assistant. Mahler's second play, Alla fine del mare (5 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), based on Fellini's film E la nave va, brings to the stage a group of declining lyric opera stars on a cruise.
Forty-two years old, from Holland, Suzan Boogaerdt & Bianca Van Der Schoot have worked together since 2000 after they both completed the same theatre school in Amsterdam. Since 2011 they have been working on a series called Visual Statements, performances dedicated to the "entertainment society" and to the role of the image in today's culture. The two plays that will be presented at the Biennale belong to this series: Bimbo (5 and 6 August, Teatro alle Tese) and Hideous Wo(men) (8 August, Teatro alle Tese). Their works have been shown at the Ruhr Triennale and at the Theatertreffen. They are currently working on a new production for the Volksbuhne in Berlin.
Claudia Bauer, born in 1966 in Landshut, Bavaria, has built a solid career as a director, not only by creating productions for the most important theatres in the German-language countries, but also by serving as artistic director for the Theaterhaus of Jena from 1999 to 2004, among others. At the Biennale she will present Und Dann (7 August, Tese dei Soppalchi), based on the text by Wolfram Holl, playwright of the year 2014 for the magazine Theater Heute, and Der Menchen Feind (9 August, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), a re-interpretation of Molière's Misanthrope. These are plays in which the grammar of the theatre is deconstructed to be recomposed in a new perspective, "magical boxes in which acrimony and grotesque nightmares bring a sense of ruthless post-Modernism to today's society" (A. Latella).
Throughout the Festival – from July 25th to August 12th – an installation by Katrin Brack, a leading European set designer and winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, will adorn the foyer of the Teatro alle Tese. Air, light, time are the themes in Brack's work, "themes that enhance the space of the stage to bring it to life, constantly moving, bringing a performance value to the place which, because of the minor variations offered by the context, make it unique from one night to the next" (from the motivation).
 
Biennale College – Theatre
You know I'm No Good, Amy Winehouse's famous single, is the title of the final marathon to be staged August 11th and 12th, to present the results of the workshops of the Biennale College – Theatre, all inspired by a theme proposed by Antonio Latella,in a single uninterrupted performance to be held in the same space (Sale d'Armi).
Latella asked the masters conducting the workshops "to choose an artist, a woman working in the second half of the twentieth century who tragically disappeared, and to take a magnifying glass to find that which has remained hidden, or deliberately kept secret, for too long.
We wish to open a real and necessary debate, so that this end might also become a new beginning, to raise new questions, be transformed into a fertile ground for strongly generative experimentation... I am convinced that in a Festival for which the leitmotiv remains the creative process of the artists, their development, their research, it is also important to have the courage to stop and think about those who voluntarily, and in many cases I might add with great clarity of mind, have chosen to bid an early farewell to life or to reject their artistic career".
Each master has therefore selected an artist as the theme of his own workshop: Simone Derai from Anagoor has chosen to work on the figure of Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe), Nathalie Béasse on Jean Seberg, Franco Visioli and Letizia Russo on Unica Zürn, Anna-Sophie Mahler on Aglaja Veteranyi, Maria Grazia Cipriani from the Teatro del Carretto on Amy Winehouse, Katrin Brack on Charlotte Posenenske, Suzan Boogaerdt and Bianca Van Der Schoot on Lee Lozano.
A workshop will be dedicated to different communication strategies based on theatre criticism, under the guidance of critic and author of essays Roberta Ferraresi.
The actors, singers, playwrights, performers, dancers, musicians and set designers selected for the Biennale College – Theatre will be in Venice for the duration of the Festival, from July 25th to August 12th, and will work with the masters to take part in a genuine creative process. The workshops will last 10 days, and will be preceded by a work session that will involve the totality of the participants, to be led by the Director Antonio Latella from July 26th to 30th.
 
The call for participation in the selection for the workshops of the Biennale College – Theatre will be published on the website of the Biennale www.labiennale.org starting April 6th (deadline for submission is May 7th).
 
A section of the Biennale College – Theatre will also be dedicated exclusively to the figure of the director. "At a time in history when there is a clear break between the past and the new generations working in theatre, the Biennale Teatro is committed to focusing attention on the work of those who have not yet achieved widespread visibility, because of their age and/or the objective difficulty of breaking into the theatre world. (...) The call for the first year is reserved for Italian directors only; this decision was based on our acknowledgment of the difficulties encountered by our young artists seeking to present their works to a wider audience and to the institutions" (A. Latella).
Young Italian directors between the ages of 18 and 30 years old have been asked to submit an original new project or one that has never been performed in its completed form.  This section will be divided into a sequence of working sessions: after an initial selection of no more than 30 directors, 5 will be selected to present the first part of their project – lasting around 30' – on August 10th at the Teatro alle Tese, before an audience consisting of the students and masters participating in the activities of the 45th Festival and the Biennale College, as well as professionals in the field. This final trial will lead to the selection of one director, who will be given a production grant to complete his play, defining and developing every aspect of it with the support of the artistic Director Antonio Latella. The play will premiere during the Biennale Teatro 2018.
 
The encounters
As a space open to knowledge and debate, the Festival will organize a cycle of encounters with the invited directors – Maja Kleczewska, Ene-Liis Semper, Nathalie Béasse, Maria Grazia Cipriani, Livia Ferracchiati, Anna Sophie Mahler, Suzan Boogaerdt and Bianca Van Der Schoot, Claudia Bauer, Katrin Brack - hosted by theatre critic and director of “Hystrio” magazine Claudia Cannella.
 
 
 
BIENNALE MUSICA
Scheduled to take place from September 29th to October 8th, the 61st International Festival of Contemporary Music looks out to the Orient this year. "The theme of the Orient is an important red thread that binds many of the concerts in the programme – stated Director Ivan Fedele. A red thread that unfurls along the deep furrows of the practices of a tradition that remains vibrant and suffuses the creative paths of many of the most representative authors of that ample region of the Asian continent that embraces China, Korea and Japan. Authors whose relationship with the West has been one of frequentation or even of union".  
 
The concerts
The Festival begins with the spiritual journey of Inori (29 September, Teatro alle Tese), imagined by Karlheinz Stockhausen as a great musical prayer for a dancer-mime and orchestra, in which the former's score of gestures, borrowed from the devotional vocabulary of different religions, serves as a sounding environment for the spatialized music of the orchestra. Inori will be performed by the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto conducted by Marco Angius. A second concert by the Orchestra from Padua (7 October, Teatro alle Tese), directed by Yoichi Sugiyama, is dedicated entirely to the music of the Far East, in a dialogue between tradition and avant-garde that offers a range of different perspectives. With Chinese composer Guo Wenjing (1956), one of the leading figures – with Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Chen Qigang and others – of that generation of musicians, known today to the entire world of contemporary music, that blossomed during the Cultural Revolution; and with the new generation of Japanese authors, Malika Kishino (1971) and Dai Fujikura (1977), winner of the Silver Lion 2017. A native of Osaka but resident in London from a very early age, Fujikura's career has been brilliant and today his music is performed from Caracas to Oslo, Lucerne and Paris, he has won commissions from the finest musical institutions and worked with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Gustavo Dudamel and Peter Eötvös.
 
The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 61st Festival has been awarded to Chinese composer Tan Dun, a long-time resident of New York, and one of the few contemporary music composers to have become a popular phenomenon, with 15 million viewers on You Tube for his Internet Symphony. The Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai will perform Secrets of Wind and Birds, The Tears of Nature and Concerto for Orchestra in a concert conducted by Tan Dun himself. Three works that have never been performed in Italy and that express his ideal of organic music "in symbiosis with the environment, in which natural elements such as water, stones, objects made of paper and ceramic interact with the traditional instruments in the orchestra, making him a unique figure in the world of music", as written in the motivation for the award.
There is historic depth in the association between Unsuk Chin (1961) and Isang Yun (1917-1995) proposed by the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble directed by Tonino Battista (1 October, Teatro alle Tese). Both born in South Korea, and later residents in Berlin (though Yun was compelled by historical events), the concert shines a light on the roots and developments of the relationship between East and West, opening a dialogue between Unsuk Chin, an established composer on the international scene, and a key figure such as Isang Yun, one of the first to explore the Oriental tradition, Chinese Taoism and the Western avant-garde from a philosophical and aesthetic perspective.
Born in Hiroshima in 1955, Toshio Hosokawa, to whom the Festival dedicates a portrait spanning over twenty years with the Takefu Ensemble (7 October, Teatro Piccolo Arsenale), bases his music on the principles of Zen Buddhism and a symbolic interpretation of nature, in which sound and silence are equally important, because the notes are born and die like a mounting breath. "Silence is full of sound if only we knew how to listen to it", says Hosokawa, who compares his music to the brushstrokes of a calligrapher, whose artistic gesture begins in the air and only later touches down on the paper.
Non-European cultures have contributed to expanding the instrumentarium of the percussionist at the time in which contemporary music began to flow through this instrument as well. Percussionist Thierry Miroglio, a true excellence in terms of technical skill, creative imagination and interest in experimentation that have made him a leading figure in contemporary music, will offer yet another perspective on East and West. With Japanese composer Ichiro Nodaira (1953) and Chinese composers Shuya Xu (1961) and Zhang Xiaofu (1954), the latter considered to be the foremost composer of electronic music in his country, joined by Chilean composer José Miguel Fernandez (1973), also contributing to the live electronics of the concert (2 October, Teatro alle Tese).
Michele Marco Rossi, Sévérine Ballon and Arne Deforce (3 October, Sala delle Colonne) are the stars of a focus on the cello, another instrument that changes in its experimentation with electronics: the programmes of the three soloists – who will present 8 Italian premieres and 2 world premieres with Rebecca Saunders, Chaya Czernowin, Liza Lim, Iannis Xenakis, Sofia Avramidou, Arturo Fuentes, Raphael Cendo, Franck Bedrossian, Richard Barrett, Thierry Blondeau, Gabriele Cosmi, Lucia Ronchetti - introduce us "to a world of sound that transfigures the familiar sound of an instrument as symbolic of our western tradition as the cello, in a universe of new acoustic dimensions and truly astounding new and original creative approaches" (I. Fedele).
Working with devices and technology, on the "vintage" side, are the musicians from Tempo Reale, the Florentine centre for research into sound, with Russian composer Alexander Chernyshkov (1983), author of the original Trascrizione di un errore presented for the Biennale College last year. In this experiment, Chernyshkov "grapples with a musical score that merges the instruments-devices of our everyday life (elevator relays, pin-technology printers, obsolete floppy disks, etc.) with the support of two non-conventional poly-instrumentalists. All within a context that uses the space to break through the concept of the traditional concert in order to create an immersive experience of proximity, which is increasingly essential to the newest emerging electronic music experiences" (Francesco Giomi, Tempo Reale).
Instrumental music, electronics, video, dance and live painting are called into play in the visual performances of the Hanatsu miroir ensemble, as in La vallée des Merveilles  (4 October, Teatro alle Tese), which the composer of the music Maurilio Cacciatore (1981) describes as "a composition halfway between chamber music and theatre that in my opinion defines a new space in contemporary creation", or such as Lost in feedback (5 October, Sale d'Armi), also by Maurilio Cacciatore, in this concert heard with a new creation by Japanese composer Kenji Sakai (1977).
 
23 Open
This year too, the Festival embraces different genres to advance experimentation and research: "we have chosen to widen the horizons of section 23 Open with the intent to highlight the innovative aspects of language and new sounds that even the more market-oriented music can express in its most original and convincing instances" states Ivan Fedele.
Featured will be the electronics of Demdike Stare (29 September, Teatro alle Tese), which oscillate between ambient, industrial and the darkest noise, but are also inspired by free jazz and house; the syncretic rock of the "ecowave" band JoyCut (5 October, Teatro alle Tese), for their commitment to environmental awareness campaigns; the original sound of double-bassist Ferrucio Spinetti, formerly of Avion Travel, and vocalist Petra Magoni, one of the finest jazz singers, together in Musica Nuda, as they bring their latest production to Venice, inspired by the theme of travelling and the writings of Fosco Maraini (4 October, Sala delle Colonne); and finally the new quartet of the legendary Enrico Rava, inspired by a project he developed in Japan last fall (8 October, Sala delle Colonne).
 
Biennale College – Music
Now in its fourth edition, this year the Biennale College – Music presents three single acts, short musical theatre micro-budget chamber works, selected by means of an international call. The three works, to be presented as a single event on October 6th at the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale, will be: Orpheus moments by German composer Ole Hubner (1993), with libretto by Tassilo Tesche, video and sets by Jakob Boeckh, directed by Friederike Blum; Apnea by composer Leonardo Marino (1992), with libretto written by Alice Lutrario, who will also direct the work, and set design by Lucia Menegazzo; La stessa barca by Raffaele Sargenti (1980), libretto composed with Antonello Pocetti, who is also the director, sets and video by Antonino Viola. The music will be performed by the Ex Novo Ensemble conducted by Filippo Perocco. The cast of singers has been selected among the most promising young voices in Europe. 
Ole Hu¨bner, Leonardo Marino and Raffaele Sargenti, each with his own team – librettist, director, set designer, video artist – have been working since March through the various phases of tutoring and production that will culminate in the rehearsal period, scheduled from September 18th to October 6th, leading to the completion of their projects. They will be supervised through the different phases by: composer Alessandro Solbiati for the music; musician, poet and essayist Umberto Fiori for the dramaturgy; musical theatre director, and co-director for many years of Atem with Georges Aperghis, Antoine Gindt for the direction.
 
Among the collaborators of the 61st International Festival of Contemporary Music we would like to mention the Tempo Reale centre for computer music in Florence.
 
We would like to thank the Ministry for the Cultural Heritage and Activities for its important contribution and the Regione del Veneto for its support to the programmes of the Dance Music and Theatre departments of the Biennale di Venezia.