The main theme of the Festival Maribor 2016


Festival Maribor has adopted a somewhat different look in 2016 to face new challenges. However, this year’s edition of Festival Maribor remains a true child of the previous edition entitled ‘Women’. Yes, in so many ways Festival Maribor 2016 remains a child, vivid and loud!

The theme of the child does not merely refer to the somewhat obvious connection with the woman – the central theme of last year's festival. It denotes so much more — the child, childlike and childish imply all that is playful, daring and curious, original and stubborn, and, not the least small, but at the same time open to the grandest, new and to adventure. From the reversed point of view, one can say that everyone who is dealing with small children will have to concur that of all the artistic disciplines music is the one which first and foremost addresses the child directly. A baby will calm down much easier with a lullaby and one of its first bodily expressions is certainly the clumsy shaking of its little bottom when responding to the rhythm of music. It is not at all unusual that music touches us so deeply also later and throughout our lives.

The spiral of associations connected with the idea of childlike has inspired an extremely varied festival programme. In the treasure trove of musical masterpieces one can find compositions written for children or inspired by them and works which have touched upon the child's soul and searched its magical and dream worlds. Replete with playfulness, imagination and fairy tales, this universe can inspire fresh and unique artistic narration as well as influence the worldview of an artist, just as the child’s point of view opens up a path to an unbiased view of life and people, devoid of historical ideologies.

At the same time, we are forced to consider the question of the place of the child in classical music concert culture. On the one hand, we endeavour to ensure their early inclusion in the world of classical music, while, on the other hand, in this “high” culture, reserved for the educated (adults), children are almost disturbing, as this world is not adapted to them: they do not know how to, or are unable to, behave appropriately, to understand complex music, to sit still for long periods and to stay up late. This brings with it a further problem: the consequent exclusion of families with children from concert happenings.

At the Festival Maribor 2016, we will therefore smuggle the child in practically everywhere, both the symbolic child present in art, as well as entirely real little ones. This will colour the connecting thread of the festival programme, while at the same time enabling the whole family to participate in selected events.

The central axis of Festival Maribor 2016 will yet again be dedicated to the topmost music creativity with significant international participation. The stormy opening of the Festival will be the task of the English orchestra Arcangelo under the baton of Jonathan Cohen, featuring the charismatic German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, who will later immerse himself into Bach's suites for cello – pioneer works, which for the first time gave centre stage to the cello, thus bringing this solo instrument to the artistic limelight. The Dutch reed quintet Calefax will introduce the audience to interlinked fairy worlds, while the Chamber Ensemble of Festival Maribor 2016 and soprano Nika Gorič will show us how Mahler experienced divine life and its joys through the eyes of a child. Our Graz fellow artist, pianist Christian Schmidt will undertake, together with bass baritone Josef Wagner, a voyage into the unknown, amongst others also into the early years of Richard Strauss. Then the English tandem The Classic Buskers will provide a show for the entire family with amusing sketches, combining music and magic on the basis of the motifs of Mozart's Magic Flute, thus bringing tears of laughter to our eyes. The Festival will be concluded by the performances of the Symphonic Orchestra of SNG Maribor, under the direction of Austrian conductor Günter Neuhold and with the outstanding young pianist Mak Muni Mihevc.

And what would a festival with the theme of ‘child’ be without children? Certainly nothing very convincing. That is why Festival Maribor is also happening among Children. The pleasant and comfortable venues of Vetrinj Mansion and the Union Hall will welcome children of all ages. A special, small piano concert will be dedicated to babies (and their mothers and fathers). Younger children are invited to participate in week-long creative workshops to acquaint themselves with music instruments. Older children and youth will have the opportunity to explore the music world of fairy tales at a special matinee given by the Calefax Quintet and enjoy The Classic Buskers show.

This year’s programme has also been compiled in cooperation with the outstanding domestic and foreign musicians and co-producers Narodni dom Maribor and SNG Maribor and with a guest appearance by musikabendeGRAZ. Festival Maribor will likewise present its own production, performed by the Chamber Ensemble of Festival Maribor 2016.  We are particularly happy to be able to offer within the children’s programme Festival Maribor among children a new creative coproduction with the Conservatory of Music and Ballet Maribor and in cooperation with the Institute MARS Maribor, two institutions which have a tradition and extensive experience in presenting art in a way that brings forth appreciation and enthusiasm in young audiences.

Taking account of all of the above, we believe that Festival Maribor 2016 will continue to remain the creative hub of international and domestic musicianship, at the same time delving with a youthful impetus deeper into the heart of the city and its inhabitants.

Allow yourselves to become children again and let’s enjoy the music together, music which not only knows no differences or prejudices among people, but also calls on us to yield to our curiosity with pure spirit and utter openness and simply and unreservedly surrender to joy!