The 65th International Festival of Contemporary Music is the final event of 2021, and the first to be directed by Lucia Ronchetti.
The introductory conversation between Lucia Ronchetti and Stefano Nardelli reveals much about the personality of the director: her thorough preparation and training, her international experience, her passion for research and innovation, her conscious use of unconventional positions that can at times appear almost provocative, and her willingness to fight for a legitimate place for contemporary music.
In addition to all this she has a profound respect for all those colleagues who have played a part in her professional development, to whom she acknowledges her deep sense of gratitude. Her personal and professional profile matches perfectly the spirit and the aims of La Biennale, also in relation to the other directors, particularly those in the performing arts, with whom she has established an ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue.
The first title of the quadriennial Festival directed by Lucia Ronchetti is Choruses – Drammaturgie vocali and the central theme is “the instrument of the voice” as an emanation of the body.
Drama and the body have also been the protagonists of the Theatre and Dance Festivals which, together with Music, have passed the baton one to the other in their own specific artistic languages.
The other protagonist of the Biennale Musica 2021 is Venice itself, guardian of its age-old heritage and cradle of contemporary music.
Venice will host many events in various locations besides those usually used by La Biennale.
Performances will be held at Teatro La Fenice, at the Teatro Malibran, in the Basilica di San Marco, home of the Cappella Marciana, who will be involved in the performance of one of the three commissioned works of this year’s Festival, and at the Conservatorio “Benedetto Marcello” which, together with other higher education institutions, is working on a research project encompassing all the arts of La Biennale and involving over one hundred students.
The Golden Lion awarded to Kaija Saariaho for her Lifetime Achievement and the Silver Lion awarded to the Neue Vocalsolisten enrich the palmarès of La Biennale with personalities who have brought great changes to contemporary music and who will offer new works and original performance styles to this year’s audiences.
With regard to this year’s two awards, Lucia Ronchetti has stated that it is impossible for an Artistic Director to remain impartial. The final choice is that of the Artistic Director, who is expected to fiercely defend her own autonomy, which becomes the autonomy of La Biennale itself.
Lucia Ronchetti has initiated some important changes in the well-established and proven experience of the College, not only extending its range of action but also introducing for the first time a jury made up of students under the age of twenty-five drawn from the Music Conservatories of Veneto (in future this may be extended to include student representatives from Conservatories across the length and breadth of Italy). The Jury will award a Prize for the Best World Premiere from among those included in the programme and for the Best Vocal Ensemble or Choir.
I have here chosen to focus on the person of the new Director of the Music Department rather than on her artistic choices, which are described in detail in the catalogue.
I would like to close with one final observation: the Festivals of Dance, Music and Theatre are not only important festivals in themselves but also – as in the case of Cinema and, from this year, the Visual Arts – opportunities for further training for many young artists. It is our hope that a greater degree of interaction with our more widely frequented sister sectors (Art, Architecture and Cinema) may serve as an example and a stimulus that will encourage a greater number of established educational institutions and theatres in Italy to become more open to everything that is new in the visual and performative arts.
At its most fundamental, every art form recounts stories (dramaturgies) that concern us all, not just those working in the sector.
Thanks to the Ministero della Cultura and the Veneto Region, the local institutions that support La Biennale di Venezia in various ways, the City of Venice, the Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio per il Comune di Venezia e Laguna and the Italian Navy.
Thanks to Rai Cultura, Media Partner of La Biennale di Venezia, and to Rai Radio 3.