“Dans ma vie j’ai toujours voulu être moderne”. With this simple, clearly-stated sentence that leaves no room for misunderstanding, in his encounter with the audience during the award ceremony for the Golden Lion he received in 2012, Pierre Boulez describes the way he lived and experienced his own time as a man and as an artist. This conception of the “contemporary”, devoid of any nostalgic lapse into a retrograde past, offers an idea of the topical which evolved from the iconoclastic experience of the Darmstadt school in the 1960s to a creativity oriented towards the perceptive dimension of listening (“avec laquelle il fallait faire face”) and that now finally encompasses other musical practices and genres.
The programme of the 63rd International Festival of Contemporary Music of La Biennale di Venezia will continue to draw inspiration from the project that set as its primary goal, to date, an interpretation of an extensive and transversal concept of the ‘contemporary’. A concept that seeks to extend the field of investigation and advancement to the many different styles of music composition and to other creative aims in which research and experimentation are conceived as significant aspects of artistic expression.
After the themes developed in the two previous editions, concerning the relationship between the music and cultures of the Asian continent (2017) and the American continent (2018) and the cutting-edge of European experiences, the next Festival will deal eminently with some of the most interesting realities (composers and performers) of the “Old Continent” which remains a benchmark for music and more in general, for the culture of our time. This continent has never ceased to raise crucial questions about art and its relationship with the present time, and today remains at the centre of a multiplicity of propulsive forces driving artistic contexts around the world.
Many different countries are represented and many authors featured whose works will be performed as world or Italian premieres.
The Golden Lion to George Benjamin is an acknowledgment that signals how and to what extent the work of this composer has left its mark on the contemporary history of music and stands in its own right beside the great masters to whom this acknowledgment has been awarded in the past: Pierre Boulez, Georges Aperghis, Salvatore Sciarrino, Sofia Gubaidulina, Steve Reich, Tan Dun and Keith Jarrett, all figures of absolute significance to the music of our time.
In addition to the customary programme of music by the great masters, the Festival will feature works by young emerging talents that will highlight the bond that exists between the generations and the interest the latter arouse for their non-conventional approaches that focus on expressing the spirit of the times and inventing new languages. If on the one hand, the lesson learned from the great composers of our time has been fundamental, on the other the younger generations demonstrate a vitality that is increasingly seeking discontinuity with respect to the ways of conceiving and making music in the recent past and much of our present. Matteo Franceschini – the Silver Lion, is one of the most original expressions of this vitality: we will hear him with his Songbook, which premieres on the night of the award ceremony.
The very same orientation guides the Biennale College – Musica project: in this year's edition, it will again circumscribe its field of action to musical theatre, about which the younger generations seem to have much to say. So far, the College Musica has produced 15 one-act operas (another 4 will be produced in this edition) and some of the young artists whose work has proved particularly outstanding have been invited back to subsequent editions to produce new independent projects. This continuity is a particular source of pride for the Music department, because it confirms the effectiveness of the project, as a concept in and of itself, and of the work that has been done so far.
The next edition of the College Musica will feature the debut of the CIMM (Center for Computer Music and Multimedia) that La Biennale di Venezia has founded and equipped with the intent to provide a significant contribution, for its own productions and those of others, in terms of research and experimentation at the service of the many activities of its departments.
From the point of view of the audience our efforts will focus, as they always have, on involving people that do not usually attend the kinds of performance that derive from an idea of contemporary music that is no longer relevant. By opening to other genres, we have attracted spectators with different backgrounds and interests and this has reassured us, on the one hand, as to the efforts we are making, and on the other has encouraged us to move forward in this direction and facilitate access to a growing number of people.
Our hope remains the same as always, that audiences with different inspirations can meet and mutually discover one another when the programming represents the broadest possible horizon of music.