At the AAR’s Villa Aurelia 4-6 May, Three Concerts by the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic

What a week. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4-6 May, the Academy’s Villa Aurelia will see three concerts performed by the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic. The concerts—each starting at 9 PM—will feature music by Fellows in Musical Composition at both the American Academy in Rome and the American Academy in Berlin: Lisa Bielawa (Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellow at the AAR [4 May]), Don Byron (Samuel Barber Rome Prize Fellow at the AAR [5 May]), and Andrew Norman FAAR’07 (Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin [6 May]). Also on the week’s programs are compositions by George Crumb, Erwin Schulhoff, Guillaume Dufay, Sofia Gubaidulina, and chamber works of Brahms, Schubert, and Mozart. For a complete program of the three concerts, and composer biographies, see here.

The Scharoun Ensemble Berlin was founded in 1983 by members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in honor of the architect Hans Scharoun (1893–1972), who designed the Berlin Philharmonie. The ensemble, which comprises the standard octet instrumentation, is one of Germany’s most distinguished chamber music ensembles. Two concert bonuses are in store from the current Rome Prize Fellows: Lisa Bielawa is soprano soloist in her composition, Hurry, while Don Byron will perform along with members of the Scharoun Ensemble in Brahms’ Serenade no. 1.

The Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic. Credit: Thomas Kierok, Berlin

This is the second annual appearance of the Scharoun Ensemble at the American Academy in Rome. During the weekend of 20-22 March 2009, the AAR hosted a concert series by the Ensemble in memory of Avv. Vittorio Ripa di Meana (1927-2008, an Academy Trustee). During its time at the AAR, the Scharoun Ensemble rehearsed in Academy spaces, came to communal meals and in general totally integrated itself into the Rome community’s life, while also turning in some of the most transcendent performances in the Academy’s memory. This repeat visit promises the same extraordinary experience.

Scharoun Ensemble double bassist Peter Riegelbauer practices at the Villa Aurelia, March 2009. Credit: Margaret Monteith

Organizing the Scharoun Ensemble concerts for the Academy is Senior Programs Associate Anne Coulson. A reminder: seating for the Scharoun concerts at the Villa Aurelia is limited, and there are no reservations.

[Here’s a post-concerts Scharoun Ensemble pictorial update. Three amazing evenings of performances, and an inestimable contribution to the community life of the American Academy—Ed.]

Scharoun Ensemble pre-rehearsal at the Villa Aurelia, 6 May 2010. In bottom photo, from left, Aleksandar Ivic (violin), Stephan de Leval Jezierski (horn), Richard Duven (cello), Eva-Maria Tomasi (violin), Micha Afkham (viola), Peter Riegelbauer (double-bass), Alexander Bader (clarinet). Not pictured: Christina Fassbender (flute), Mor Biron (bassoon), Majella Stockhausen (piano). Photos: Annie Schlechter

Tuesday 4 May: Scharoun performs Hurry with composer and current AAR Fellow Lisa Bielawa (top); Brahms’ Serenade no. 1 in D Major with clarinetist and current AAR Fellow Don Byron (middle, with Byron third from right); and George Crumb’s 1971 Vox Balaenae (bottom). Photos: Anne Coulson

Wednesday 5 May: Scharoun Ensemble with composer and current Fellow Don Byron (far right), after performing Byron’s Basquiat (1996). Photo: Corey Brennan

Thursday 6 May: pre-performance crowd at Villa Aurelia (top); current American Academy in Berlin Fellow Andrew Norman FAAR’07 introduces the world premiere of his 2010 composition The Companion Guide to Rome (middle); Scharoun members (from left, Ivic, Duven, Tomasi, Bader, Afkham) take a bow following performance of Mozart’s Quintet in A Major (bottom). Photos: Corey Brennan


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