On 26 July 2013 the curtain will rise for the 14th presentation of Young Euro Classic (YEU) at the Konzerthaus in Berlin. This annual festival is now firmly established in the cultural calendar of Berlin. Summer is generally seen as a “Sauergurkenzeit” (Sour gherkin time) when theatre houses in most European countries are on holidays.
Berlin is no exception and that is why the presentation of Young Euro Classic is a welcome addition to the cultural scene for the local population and visitors alike. This can be gauged from the fact that 27 000 visitors go through the portal each year to enjoy the fare that the young artists dish out.
It is expected that this year’s programme will open with a bang when the Youth Orchestra of the University of Mexico takes the stage. The Mexicans are expected to present a wide range of musical genre which will make the audience either swoon or hop in their seats with the instruments, including 13 drums that the orchestra has at its disposal.
The menu for the festival this year (26 July – 11 August) is wide-ranging. Apart from the Mexicans, Latin America will also be represented by the State Youth Orchestra São Paulo of Brazil.
The Siam Sinfonietta of Thailand will present an Asian flavour to the festival. The interesting aspect of this group is that they will be presenting works composed by the reigning monarch King Bhumiboi.
The Australian Youth Orchestra from down under will be making their second appearance. The first was in 2007 when they thrilled the audience with their performance. This time they will be accompanied by much talented violinist Joshua Bell and Didgeridoo star William Barton.
The didgeridoo (or didjeridu) is not an instrument that one hears on a daily basis and will represent one of the enrichments of the festival. It is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of Northern Australia about 1 500 years ago and is widely in use in the land of its “birth” and some parts of the world.
William Barton is recognized as the most famous proponent of this instrument and his compositions and renditions display the wealth of Australian music. As a soloist he has performed in Carnegie Hall in New York as well as the Royal Festival Hall in London. He represented his country with his music at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008.
Europe is fairly well represented at the festival with the first appearance of the Hungarian Zuglo Philharmonic Budapest as well as the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and of course Germany.
The mighty power of music to unite will be represented by the Young Philharmonic Orchestra Jerusalem Weimar. This group came into being in 2011 which is made up of students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the High School for Music Franz Liszt in Weimar and the performers are replaced every two years. The composition of the 2013 group is made up of 36 Israelis and 41 graduates from Weimar.
The most sensational aspect of Young Euro Classic will be the presence of the Arab Youth Philharmonic Orchestra made up of 60 young men and women from six Arab countries. These are Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, the Regions of Palestine, Syria and Tunisia.
Bearing in mind the countries that will be represented at the YEC this summer and in the previous few years, makes the title Euro Classics a misnomer. What started as a base for West European young artists, gradually moving over to Eastern Europe, it has now spread all over the world. Last year the audiences were uprooted from their seats when the young South Africans took the stage. It was hilarious. That group performed even after the show outside the hall.
The YEC is a brainchild of Frau Dr Gabriele Minz who said: “We want to be the platform not only for the best youth orchestras in the world, but also for outstanding young soloists and dancers”. Together with her small group, they have made sure that the festival remains part of the Berlin landscape on a long term basis. This is not easy. It requires finance and so far businesses and individuals have been very generous in keeping this programme alive. It is expected that 1 500 artists will present their wares over the 17 days on a very wide scale to meet most music tastes.
According to Dr Minz, the general public can also make their contribution by either becoming a festival fan or an orchestra patron. Details can be obtained from: email@example.com
In response to a question by your scribe regarding artists from Africa, Dr Minz explained that at the moment negotiations are afoot with Namibia and Nigeria. These are long drawn out affairs with many hurdles to overcome and a number of i(s) to dot and t(s) to cross. She is confident that in the end an agreement which will be satisfactory to all concerned. She is of the opinion that Africa is teeming with talent and these have to be encouraged and developed.