stARTfestival 2023

Logo of stART festival with Fatma Said

At the 2023 festival, Bayer Arts & Culture is once again staging exciting concerts and spellbinding performances, with a great line-up of inspiring artists. The events are being held in the Erholungshaus in Leverkusen (our very own theater and concert hall), in the Opladen Scala, at the Bayer sites in Wuppertal and Berlin, and in Leipzig, just a stone’s throw from Bitterfeld. A rare chance to hear something unique. Always live, always authentic.

What? When? Where? **stARTfestival 2023 events**

Vladimir Jurowski © Simon Pauly
Vladimir Jurowski © Simon Pauly

It’s time to celebrate – Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin is a hundred years old. Throughout that time, its mission has always been – and still remains – making music accessible to all. Democratic through and through. High-quality music. A performance that gets off to a brilliant start. Modest Mussorgsky – a short piece that is grandiose and loud. This is followed by Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2. The climax of the evening is Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3, “The Fiery Angel”, which is based on a medieval story about demons, sexual obsession, devil worship and mass hysteria. In Prokofiev’s hands, this story is powerful and brutal – so monumental that the chandeliers start to shake. Musical fireworks in a concert hall with some of the best acoustics in Europe. A great, unmissable evening.

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin 100


Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Ivan Karizna Cello
Vladimir Jurowski Conductor


Modest Mussorgski: Night on the Bare Mountain, Op. posth.
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 126
I. Largo
II. Allegretto
III. Allegretto

Sergej Prokofiev: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 44, “The Fiery Angel”
Allegro agitato
Andante mosso – Allegro agitato


About the artists

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Bundesjugendbalett © Kiran West
Bundesjugendbalett © Kiran West

Persecuted. Murdered. Forgotten? Who were the dancers killed or banned from their profession by the Nazis? John Neumeier, ballet legend and probably the most significant dancer and choreographer in the world, turns his attention to these questions, along with the dancers from Germany’s National Youth Ballet. Various storylines and biographies, woven together in the style of a collage. Riveting. Vibrant. An interplay of text, dance, stage set and music that gives us an intimate view into these people’s lives, their suffering, the persecution they experienced, and their deaths. With elements of irony and humor, too. Never too heavy. Always respectful. Neumeier and the ballet dancers succeed in giving these people a voice – but that’s not all. They also give them back the stage.

John Neumeier Concept, Director, choreography & set


Raymond Hilbert Additional choreography
Ralf Stabel Academic Advisor & dramaturgical input


Roger Irman Lighting
Sonja Kraft Costume collaboration
Jay Gummert, Marshall McDaniel Musical Directors
Peter Schmidt Display


Germany’s National Youth Ballet:

Lormaigne Bockmühl
Almudena Izquierdo
Ayumi Kato
Milla Loock
Kieren Bofinger
Giuseppe Conte
Moisés Romero
João Vitor Santana


Further dancers: Justine Cramer, Ida Stempelmann, Lennard Giesenberg

Actors: Isabella Vértes-Schütter, Louisa Stroux, Maximilian von Mühlen

Pianists: Alexander Vorontsov, Konstantin Dupelius


"Die Unsichtbaren (The invisibles)"


Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the German National Youth Ballet was part of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy until 2018.


About the artists

The German National Youth Ballet

Uri Caine © Bill Douthart
Uri Caine © Bill Douthart

Cool. Laid-back. Well-known jazz pianist Uri Caine brings new life to the great Richard Wagner. Accompanied by Quatuor Agate, the prestigious French string quartet. An homage to Wagner – but with a twist. Performed with levity, humor and plenty of jazz and charm, with the ambience of a Viennese coffee house. Wagner – but without some of the splendor, grandeur or mightiness. Uri Caine provides a fresh interpretation. Always with all due respect, but in a down-to-earth, accessible way. Simply a lighter touch. Wagner as he’s never been heard before – but as he absolutely needs to be heard. The Ride of the Valkyries played on the accordion. Wagner to sway along to.


Uri Caine Piano
Samuele Telari Accordion
Quatuor Agate:
Adrien Jurkovic
Thomas Descamps Violin
Raphaël Pagnon Viola
Simon Iachemet Cello
"Wagner e Venezia"
Richard Wagner in an arrangement by Uri Caine
Liebestod (Tristan and Isolde)
Overture (Tannhäuser)
Overture (Lohengrin, Prelude to Act 3)
Prelude (Tristan and Isolde) 
Overture (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) 
The Ride of the Valkyries
Overture (Lohengrin, Prelude to Act 1)


About the artists

Uri Caine website

Benjamin Schäfer © Dovile Sermokas
Benjamin Schaefer © Dovile Sermokas

Two worlds collide – jazz and the classical cello. Unusual. Different. Valentin Radutiu shows us how well the cello suits jazz – whether it’s playing the part of the bass, the guitar or, of course, the human voice. The classic cello – light and entertaining. Radutiu and his former stARTacademy colleague Benjamin Schaefer join forces to present a program that they have recorded together. The mood has been influenced by the Great American Songbook. Two musicians who know each other well simply having fun playing music together. They allow themselves to follow their instincts and follow the aesthetic of the music that fascinates them both. Musical and emotional.


Valentin Radutiu Cello
Benjamin Schaefer Piano


Arrangements and original compositions by Benjamin Schaefer and Valentin Radutiu


Valentin Radutiu and Benjamin Schaefer are former artists of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy.


About the artists

Valentin Radutiu

Benjamin Schaefer

Giorgi-Gigashvili ©
Giorgi-Gigashvili ©

Full of contrasts. Thrilling. A demanding program. Giorgi Gigashvili has deliberately designed the evening to be exactly as he wants it. This young musician from Georgia, who is supported by Martha Agerich, is a technically brilliant pianist. His talents are not restricted to the classical repertoire, but it is here that he finds the greatest challenges. The Liszt Sonata in B minor is one such challenge. A tremendous work with challenging fingering. Impressive. The “Kreisleriana” by Schumann is an explosion of contrasting moods and discontinuity that is typical of the Romantic era. Moving between wild euphoria and the sorrow of death, and yet the work takes the shape of a sweeping curve. A continuous line that needs to be carved out. The result is a contrast between the two works. Unusual. Highly skilled.

Giorgi Gigashvili Piano


Robert Schumann: “Kreisleriana”, Op. 16
1. Äusserst bewegt (extremely animated)
2. Sehr innig (very inwardly)
3. Sehr aufgeregt (very agitated)
4. Sehr langsam (very slowly)
5. Sehr lebhaft (very lively)
6. Sehr langsam (very slowly)
7. Sehr rasch (very fast)
8. Schnell und spielend (fast and playful)

Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178
1. Lento assai - Allegro energico
2. Grandioso - Rezitativ - Andante sostenuto - Quasi adagio - Allegro energico
3. Andante sostenuto - Allegro moderato
4. Andante sostenuto - Lento assai


From 2023, Giorgi Gigashvili is one of the artists of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy.


About the artists

Giorgi Gigashvili website

Hauschka © Carsten Sander
Hauschka © Carsten Sander

Planned improvisation. Everything happens in the moment. Guided by the instant. A program that lets the music take center stage. That’s exactly what Hauschka does best. His music has been nominated for an Oscar. Hauschka sets up a “prepared piano” for his performance, using ordinary, everyday items – chopsticks, aluminum foil, table tennis balls, erasers. It’s a long list. The result is something highly unusual and unfamiliar. It’s hard to believe the sound is coming from a grand piano. The notes transport you to worlds that are even hard to imagine. What’s exciting is the desire to be different, to try things out, to improvise. Fascinating. Bold.

Hauschka Prepared piano 
Support: Rike Huy Trumpet, electronics


Original compositions


Rike Huy is an artist of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy.


About the artists

Hauschka website

Rike Huy website

Manz Jakob © Carsten Göke
Manz Jakob © Carsten Göke

Saxophone, strings, vocals. An unusual line-up that is unorthodox and expressive. Demanding – and not just for the soloist. The music goes high and low. Jakob Manz, too, is moving out of his comfort zone. The jazz saxophonist is playing with the internationally renowned Mandelring Quartett. It is a chance to move away from the familiar. Michael Wertmüller composed the piece specially for Manz, based on a poem by Wolfgang Hilbig. A composition that borrows from jazz, together with wonderful moments from a classical, romantic string quartet. Expressionist in parts. A work that was premiered on a small stage in Bitterfeld is going on tour. The program also includes works by Stallaert and Dvořák. An electrifying evening of music.

Jakob Manz Saxophone
Caroline Bruker Soprano


Mandelring Quartett:
Sebastian Schmidt Violin
Nanette Schmidt Violin
Andreas Willwohl Viola
Bernhard Schmidt Cello


Michael Wertmüller “Palimpsest” (commissioned composition for saxophone, vocals and string quartet)
Alphonse Stallaert Quintet for Saxophone and String Quartet
1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Adagio – Allegro 

Antonin Dvořák: String Quartet in F major, Op. 96, “American Quartet”
1. Allegro ma non troppo
2. Lento
3. Molto vivace
4. Finale. Vivace ma non troppo


Jakob Manz is an artist of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy.


About the artists

Jakob Manz Homepage

Mandelring Quartett Homepage

Caroline Bruker Homepage

Dominik Wagner © Maria Frodl
Dominik Wagner © Maria Frodl

Classic – but with a twist. This project was devised specially for the stARTfestival. It focuses on Franz Schubert. His songs – his greatest legacy. Now looked at through a new lens. The evening starts off with the double bass – not traditionally a solo instrument. Soloist Dominik Wagner uses it as a voice. He takes it right to the limits. In more ways than one. Creatively and with high virtuosity. Schubert – but not as we know him. The Erlkings are in no way inferior. Far from it. Their line-up is almost absurd – percussion, tuba, guitar and vibraphone. They cultivate the song, but in a far from classical way. Often in the English version and always free from convention. They present Schubert as they see, hear and imagine him. It comes across easily. More of a feel of an evening in a club than a classical concert. Tempestuous and bold.

Dominik Wagner Double bass
Beatrice Berrut Piano


The Erlkings:
Bryan Benner
Baritone, guitar

Ivan Turkalj Cello
Simon Teurezbacher Tuba
Thomas Toppler Percussion, Vibraphone


Franz Schubert: Sonata in A minor for Arpeggione or double bass and piano, D 821 
1. Allegro moderato
2. Adagio
3. Allegretto

Schubert songs arranged for double bass and piano 
“Auf dem Wasser zu singen”
“Die Forelle”
“Erlkönig”, and others 


About the artists

The Erlkings Homepage

Dominik Wagner Homepage

Christiane Karg © Gisela Schenker
Christiane Karg © Gisela Schenker

Human through and through. Deep. It’s all about existential questions. Schumann, Mendelssohn and Brahms arranged by Aribert Reimann. The songs remain unchanged – and yet are even greater. Deeper. More easily discernible. Of a completely different color. Translated into a multidimensional entity that the young Aris Quartett plays at the very highest level. Christiane Karg’s voice. Moving and almost reproachful. The instruments and voice seem to be singing to one another. The audience is irresistibly drawn in. An evening of great depth that will get under your skin.

Christiane Karg Soprano


Aris Quartett:
Anna Katharina Wildermuth, Noémi Zipperling
Caspar Vinzens Viola
Lukas Sieber Cello 


Robert Schumann: Sechs Gesänge, Op. 107 (arr. Aribert Reimann)
I Herzeleid
II Die Fensterscheibe
III Der Gärtner
IV Die Spinnerin
V Im Wald
VI Abendlied

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: String Quartet in F minor, Op. 80
1. Allegro vivace assai – Presto
2. Allegro assai
3. Adagio
4. Finale. Allegro molto

Johannes Brahms
Five Ophelia-Lieder (arr. Aribert Reimann)
I Andante con moto “Wie erkenn' ich dein Treublieb”
II Andante “Sein Leichenhemd weiss wie Schnee”
III Allegretto “Auf morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag”
IV Andante “Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloss”
V Andante con moto “Und kommt er nicht mehr zurück?”

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: “… oder soll es Tod bedeuten?” (for soprano and string quartet, arranged by Aribert Reimann to include six intermezzi)
Leise zieht durch mein Gemüt, Op. 19a No. 5
Intermezzo I
Der Herbstwind rüttelt die Bäume, Op. 34 No. 6
Intermezzo II
Über die Berge steigt schon die Sonne, Op. 27 No.2
Intermezzo III
Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, Op. 34 No. 2
Intermezzo IV
Was will die einsame Träne (1837), 1st and 2nd verses
In dem Mondenschein im Walde, Op. 19a No.4
Ach, meine Liebe selber... (3rd verse of Was will die einsame Träne)
Intermezzo V
Allnächtlich im Traume, Op. 86 No.4
Mein Liebchen, wir sassen beisammen
Intermezzo VI
Warum sind denn die Rosen so blass (fragment)


About the artists

Christiane Karg website

Aris Quartett website

Tag der Vereine Erholungshaus © Bayer Kultur
Tag der Vereine_Erholungshaus © Bayer Kultur

Musical. Culinary. Entertaining. Inside or outside. Out on the grass or on the stage. In the Erholungshaus, out on the terrace or in the park. Things will be happening everywhere, as we demonstrate the diversity of the work performed by the Bayer cultural groups. All ensembles are being invited. And we’d like to invite you to join us, too. One of our special guests is Sandro Roy. The former stARTacademy artist and Gypsy violinist is performing a special program with the Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra. A fantastic afternoon lies ahead. Free admission. With sausages and fresh draft Kölsch beer on offer. A special event for friends, families and anyone who wants to drop by and see what’s going on. An open house. Fully in the tradition of the Erholungshaus.

Bayer Wind Band, Leverkusen
Bayer Big Band
Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra, Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen Accordion Band
Bayer Male Voice Choir, Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen Mandolin Band 


Special guests:
Sandro Roy Violin


Sandro Roy is a former artist of the Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy.


About the artist

Sandro Roy website

Wallis Bird © Tobias Ortmann
Wallis Bird © Tobias Ortmann

Many influences. Many different eras. A focus on female composers. Powerful women. Powerful works. Thrilling. Multifaceted. These are the aspects that brought singer/songwriter Wallis Bird together with Spark. An Irish artist and a non-classical classical band. The best of both worlds, working together in this form for the first time. The artists shine new light on women from centuries gone by. With music by Hildegard von Bingen, Amy Beach and Björk, to name but a few. These women are celebrated in all their complexity – as warriors, mothers, muses, lovers, sisters, dreamers and sirens. As voices of the heart and of the soul. All with complete and utter devotion.


Sponsored by:

Logo Neu Start Kultur

Logo Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien



Wallis Bird Vocals & guitar
Spark | The Classical Band:
Andrea Ritter Recorder
Daniel Koschitzki Recorder & melodica
Stefan Balazsovics Violin & viola 
Victor Plumettaz
Christian Fritz Piano


Hildegard von Bingen O Virtus Sapientiae
Björk Oceania
Amy Beach A Mirage
Anohni Daylight And The Sun
Clara Schumann Lov’st Thou For Beauty?
Wallis Bird Odom
Maria Theresia von Paradis Sicilienne
Francesca Caccini Ciaccona
Billie Holiday Now Or Never
Tori Amos Cloud On My Tongue
Kate Bush Babooshka
Wallis Bird Home
Elena Kats-Chernin Fast Blue Village
Sandie Wollasch Believer
Janis Joplin Mercedes Benz
Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi
Germaine Tailleferre Larghetto
Wallis Bird Dr. James Barry
Wallis Bird Woman Oh Woman!
Enya Only Time
Carole King A Natural Woman
Wallis Bird Visions


About the artists

Wallis Bird website

Spark | The Classical Band website

Jules Buckley © jules buckley music ltd
Jules Buckley © jules buckley music ltd

Wild and witty. A phenomenal line-up. Metropole Orkest has partnered world stars such as Céline Dion, Joe Cocker and Shirley Bassey. Conductor Jules Buckley is also a world star. They’re staging a performance with Louis Cole. A young multi-percussionist. A Grammy Award winner. A YouTube star. They’ll also be joined by top-class soloists. An evening full of glamor and groove. Cole is always on the look-out for new items as replacements for his conventional percussion instruments. Of the various alternatives, the Nerf gun actually ranks as the most normal. All with a twinkle of mischief in his eye. A true spectacle awaits. A funky night. Incredibly entertaining. An event where it will be impossible to stay sitting down. Maybe we should just take the chairs out?

Louis Cole Multi-instrumentalist
Sam Wilkes Bass
Genevieve Artadi Backing vocals
Dave Binney Alto saxophone
Pedro Martins Guitar
featuring Nate Wood, Sam Wilkes, David Binney & Genevieve Artadi
Metropole Orkest


About the artists

Metropole Orkest website

Jules Buckley website

frühstART events as part of the stARTfestival

Program for children of kindergarten and school age. Working on its own initiative and in cooperation with educational institutes, Bayer Arts & Culture offers children access to various aspects of the arts.


Adopting a playful approach, our aim is to arouse and foster their curiosity, stimulate their cognitive processes, and help develop their personalities and sense of identity. The Bayer Arts & Culture initiatives are always designed to supplement what’s already offered by schools or to provide stimulus for school education processes. There is always one common goal – making culture accessible to all, especially our youngest members of society.


Contact for free participation by schools and kindergartens: Christoph Böhmke:

The Erlkings © Peak Motion Films
The Erlkings © Peak Motion Films

Schubert’s songs – little mini-operas! Full of exciting stories about love, friendship, longing for home, and the natural world. The Erlkings tell the story of these songs in their unique and highly entertaining way. An afternoon event for the whole family.

The Erlkings

Bryan Benner Baritone, Guitar

Ivan Turkalj Cello

Simon Teurezbacher Tuba

Thomas Toppler Percussion, Vibraphone


The event is free of charge, but please sign up by contacting


About the artists

The Erlkings Homepage

Wildes Holz © Johannes Gramm
Wildes Holz © Johannes Gramm

Wildes Holz – three full-blooded musicians who are passionate about music. Together with stART artist Jakob Manz, Tobias Reisige demonstrates just how cool the recorder can sound! The grand finale concert performed by the current recorder group in conjunction with schools in Leverkusen and, hopefully, lots of up-and-coming recorder players.

Tobias Reisige, Jakob Manz Recorder

Markus Conrads Double bass, Mandolin

Johannes Behr Guitar


The event is free of charge, but please sign up by contacting


About the artists

Wildes Holz Homepage


Key Visual with Fatma Said © James Bort