Sunday, May 04, 2008

JeKi and Hagen Philharmonic

More music for the masses! The Fonoforum, a German classical music and jazz magazine, though actually, based in Cologne, hardly ever reports on anything outside Northrhine-Westphalia (don't they get overnight subsistence?), in its March 2008 issue reported on the project 'Jedem Kind ein Instrument' (one instrument for every child). It's a project that takes place in the Ruhr valley, a formerly industrial wasteland of Germany which is regenerating itself as a cultural oasis (it will be European Capital of Culture in about 2010).

The project started in the city of Bochum, where the local municipal music school (each German town has one) began providing instruments to every child of primary school age. Now it has spread across the whole of the area, with funding of 50 million Euros from a variety of sources, not least the old lady who provided a violin for children to use, which only turned out to be a Strad! 13 orchestral instruments are included, as well as instruments native to the countries of migrant children - though I assume that all children can choose all instruments. I'm not sure whether the full maintenance costs have been considered - there need to be sufficient instruments for the children for 12 school years, theoretically, though some will buy their own instruments, and others will give up. The overall impact of this has not yet been evaluated - it's too early for this. Let's hope it works out - it would grow a fantastic audience for concert halls, CDs etc.

In the same neck of the woods resides the Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra. For a large city Hagen is truly, but truly a dump. Ugly like you would not believe. The orchestra was always pretty iffy, too, though in recent years they got a new conductor, Anthony Hermus. He's done a recording of Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde' which is well praised by Fonoforum. The orchestra must be on its way up! (Though did I hear that Hermus has gone on to better places?). NB My last violin teacher was a violist in this orchestra.

Final bit of unknown trivia from Fonoforum - I did not know Justus Frantz also had an older son (he has one of about two years or so). This son, Christopher Tainton (he's taken his mother's name), born 1975, studied in Hanover with Kaemmerling (a very highly regarded piano pedagogue); Christoph Eschenbach (who used to do concerts with Justus Frantz) is his mentor. He also spent some time, as a child, shadowing Leonard Bernstein, when the latter worked at Frantz's Schleswig Holstein Festival.