The Festivals of Contemporary Music that I have organized since 2012 neither aimed nor presumed to be an exhaustive investigation into contemporary music, for obvious reasons of time and space, and for reasons deriving from the extreme variety of aesthetic orientations and the mobility of the actors involved, as well as the multiplicity of genres to which we have tried in recent years to dedicate the space they deserve (we will do so, I hope, more extensively in the future).
Hence the guidelines, the common threads that for almost a decade have informed and stitched together our programmes into a single sequential story, are essentially three in number: to identify the strong stylistic and conceptual differentiations that distinguish the most significant authors (contemporary music compositions are not “always the same”!), to state that this musical genre (yes, it is a genre, at least from my point of view) is absolutely vital and has young followers around the world and, last but not least, that experimentation and research are dimensions of creativity that we may find to be quite fertile in other genres as well. As for the latter, it seems rather specious to me at this point to claim any sort of primacy for composed music because genius can reveal itself anywhere that sound is expressed as thought.
The musical practices of our time reveal the increasingly intense dialogue taking place between genres and between the musicians that come from them.
These are often the most productive encounters, the ones that create enlightening short circuits and often point creativity in new directions. I refer to the live-sets at the CIMM Bissuola, promoted in the form of workshops held throughout the year. Great expressive power is also evoked in the encounter between synthetic sound and images being pursued by the Biennale College Music at the CIMM Arsenale, where a selection of four projects for multimedia works will be produced by young artists, supervised by internationally-renowned tutors. Of course, the acronym for this great new reality recently founded by La Biennale is indicative of its orientation towards experimentation, research and production: CIMM - Centro di Informatica Musicale e Multimediale, the Centre for computer music and multimedia. A centre which has already produced so much in its inaugural year, and which has every intention of standing firmly at the centre of European studies in this particular field.
Then there is the comparative encounter between ordinary instruments, “augmented” instruments and a new vision of luthiery such as the one invented and presented by Giovanni Verrando in Instrumental freak show: it appears as a literal take on John Cage’s statement that a new music inevitably needs new instruments, be they acoustic, electronic or even conceptual.
An original voice, from this specific point of view, is that of Raphaël Cendo (our Silver Lion for the year 2020), the founder of an artistic movement, or perhaps more precisely of the powerful aesthetic trend known as “Saturation”. In his theoretical writings we find revolutionary stances that cast new light on the acoustic and perceptive aspects of music, a dimension in which sound is transformed from an objective element into a subjective reaction that returns to the original text in an uninterrupted transitional process. Even the relationship between composition and improvisation is reformulated in the light of the analytical potential of the subject, as recent psychoacoustics have studied and redefined it.
In this festival I again gave preference, rather than to anthological concerts (very few), to monograph concerts, or concerts with at most two voices, with the purpose of bringing greater depth to the encounter with the authors. This was the only way to approach our Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Luis de Pablo, the greatest living Spanish composer, a brilliant artist with inexhaustible creativity. We will present two of his symphonic works, including the world premiere of Concierto para viola e orquesta.
The year 2020 will be a year of illustrious anniversaries which we have chosen to commemorate and to honour, those of Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, Franco Donatoni and Ludwig van Beethoven. The modernity of this latter great titan continues to project its fertile influence to the present day, and in three piano recitals his music will share the programme with three other classics of modernity: Franco Donatoni, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The concept of classical must not be relegated to a historical past two and a half centuries old, but can well be considered as an absolute category.
An important event will be the new production of I Cenci by Giorgio Battistelli, which will rely on a surprising cast, together with the Ensemble ‘900 of the Conservatory of Lugano, conducted by Francesco Bossaglia, who has become a regular guest at the Biennale.
This year again La Biennale has honoured its commitment to commission new works by established composers such as Fabio Nieder, Alessandro Melchiorre, Marcello Filotei, Fausto Sebastiani, Sofia Avramidou, Ruggero Laganà and Sandro Gorli, putting together a programme rich in world and Italian premieres.
We will feature two orchestras, the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and the Orchestra Haydn di Trento e Bolzano along with many ensembles: Ensemble Contrechamps, Fontanamix, Ensemble Fractales, Oktopus Ensemble, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble Interface, Quatuor Tana & Neuen Vocalsolisten, Ensemble Cairn.