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Diversity in all areas

For more than two centuries, the “revival of music in all its branches” has been the main goal of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. For the Musikverein, “Alle Zweige” (“all branches”) also means being open to everything that has grown anew in Vienna’s urban society and calls for musical expression. This endeavour is reflected in a multitude of ways in the programme of the Musikverein. Open doors – for as many people as possible.

© Julia Wesely

© Igor Ripak

Reflecting the diversity of society – this is what the Musikverein’s programme sets out to do in many different facets. Precisely because many people associate the house primarily with classical concerts, the aim is to provide concerts that reflect the diversity of the population and set out to invite a wide variety of audiences.

For example, the Musikverein has recently opened up to a wide range of cultures with the project “Wiener Stimmen” (“Viennese Voices”), which was curated by the Brunnenpassage Wien and realized in collaboration with the Musikverein. In June 2022, six Viennese singers from different musical and biographical contexts performed with the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, under Wayne Marshall, in the Großen Musikvereinssaal. This concert was by no means a one-off flagship project, but was continued in the 2022/23 season, in a cycle with further performances by all participating singers. In the 2023/24 season, another large concert will follow. This new edition of the “Wiener Stimmen” (“Viennese Voices”) once again reflects the successful collaboration with the Brunnenpassage as a co-operating partner of the Musikverein. Once again, musicians with the most diverse roots will lend new sound volume to their music through co-operation with the Tonkünstler Orchestra.

Contact with a variety of cultural areas is also consistently made possible by the word-music programmes in the Four New Halls. In the coming season, it will be works by authors from different countries that prominent actors will read. The interplay of word and music will thus be remarkably diverse. “Domains” do not exist and should not have a place in an institution as committed to openness as the Musikverein Wien. And so the conductor’s podium here is no longer a “male domain”. After the Musikverein portraits dedicated to the conductors Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Joana Mallwitz and Elim Chan in the past two seasons, this season, the internationally much sought-after Karina Canellakis is one of the “artists in focus”. As a “composer in focus”, the Berlin-based British composer, Rebecca Saunders, will set further strong accents in the Musikverein season 2023/24. Her music can be heard in many programme constellations – including the cycle “Young Musicians”. In a special programme dedicated to musicians, Marilies Guschlbauer on cello and Julia Rinderle on piano will perform various works, from Clara Schumann to Rebecca Saunders, under the title “Les grandes Dames – Komponistinnen dann und heute”. In the series “Musikverein Perspektiven”, which will be developed in the 2023/24 season, with the prominent Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, world premieres by various female composers are on the programme – the Musikverein acts as co-client, in co-operation with Wien Modern.

© Dieter Nagl

Musical diversity is virtually inscribed in the Neue Säle (New Halls) of the Musikverein. At the Gentlemen Music Club, the Viennese Russian music scene stars show how to bring Russian music traditions closer to domestic ones. And once again, the virtuoso Janoska Ensemble will question the understanding of classical music with relish when it fuses classical, jazz, pop and other stylistic elements in its programme and – something quite rare in classical concerts – celebrates improvisations.

Diversity also plays a vital role in the programme for young audiences. As part of “Allegretto”, for example, there will be a substantial music theatre premiere entitled “Where to?”. The commissioned production tells the story of three singers with different roots who compose, sing, and play instruments and, as singer-songwriters, invite you to immerse yourself in different cultures. As part of “Capriccio”, poetry-slam master Yasmin Hafedh, alias Yasmo, questions the fascination with heroines and heroes of yesterday and today. As part of the anniversary of Beethoven’s Ninth, “Agathes Wunderkoffer” invites young listeners to turn to the composer’s suffering and to deal with the topic of deafness.

The cycle “Souvenir” will be continued with six concerts: a project that has also attracted significant international attention, which the Musikverein developed in 2022/23, especially for people with dementia. The Musikverein opens here to people with special needs, who experience music as a bridge to emotions and memories.

Broadening the view, making diversity visible in all areas and thus becoming even more relevant for people in one’s own city, is a claim that the Musikverein provides for in numerous concerts.

Text by Theresa Steininger.