The most intense, inspiring, and meaningful musical project I attended was the Music Academy of the German National Academic Foundation.
Each year, the Music Academy takes place for ten days in a seminary in Brixen, an idyllic village positioned in a valley of South Tyrol, often under the artistic lead of my dear friend Martin Wettges. It is a monastic experince, creating a space outside the compounds and rushes of society, when 250 professional and semi-professional musicians from different generations and backgrounds come together to play the most monumental sinfonic works such as Mahler’s 2nd and 3rd sinfonies or his Lied von der Erde, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, Britton’s War Requiem, or Bruckner’s Te Deum. Participants are sholars, alumni, and professors of Germany’s biggest and oldest academic foundation. Each year’s academy has a theme that is manifested not only in the music we play, but that is extended through discussions, lectures, and oftentimes even the history of the place itself. (Gustav Mahler used to spend much time in his nearby summer house.) Two concerts in concert halls such as the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Brixen Cathedral or the Essen or Munich philharmonics conclude the time in summer.
For me, the magic of the Music Academy lies in how it creates a holistic space to connect art, emotions, craft, history, science, and deep personal connections. I was hence very happy and honored to be able to lead the project team organizing it in 2014, 2015, and 2016.