In spring 2023, Bayer Arts & Culture once again offered seven weeks of top-class concerts and dance in Leverkusen, Wuppertal, Berlin and Leipzig. Nationwide, around 10,000 visitors were drawn to the 23 extraordinary events. Among the performers were highly talented young artists, new stARTacademy artists and alumni, Grammy winners and an Oscar winner.
Soprano Fatma Said, who is sponsored by Bayer Arts & Culture, perfectly represents the idea of the stARTfestival - where artists from a wide variety of genres are allowed to try their hand and bring extraordinary ideas to life. In 2023, she performed with Israeli conductor Bar Avni and the Bayer Philharmonic and touched the hearts of the audience.
"Costanzo's concept of mixing Handel arias, the minimal music of a Philip Glass, lyrics by songwriters like David Byrne (Talking Heads) and video art from absolute luminaries of the artful film business is massively overwhelming and maximally aesthetic," wrote the local newspaper Leverkusener Anzeiger about the countertenor's concert with l'arte del mondo, orchestra in residence of Bayer Arts & Culture.
In the spirit of the stARTfestival, this concert was a special encounter: Brass met symphonic wind music. The incredibly motivated and enthusiastic Bayer Brass Orchestra and German Brass, the best brass musicians from all over Germany, developed a new musical language and inspired each other. In addition to the jointly developed pieces, each orchestra showed what it can do on its own.
Dance could not be missing in the program of the stARTfestival. In an impressive choreography and direction by the legendary Hamburg ballet director John Neumeier, the Bundesjugendballett returned to the Erholungshaus and commemorated choreographers and dancers persecuted during the Nazi era. A documentary exhibition by the designer Peter Schmidt in the form of a memorial wall complemented the remembrance of the history of dance under National Socialism.
Jazz icon Uri Caine from the USA invited accordionist Samule Telari and the Quatuor Agate from France to Leverkusen to approach Richard Wagner's masterpieces in an unusual way: not at all a classical string quartet repertoire - rather good humor and lightness. The former music director of the Venice Biennale is equally at home in classical music and jazz.
The experimental pianist and "piano preparator" Volker Bertelmann alias Hauschka is an Oscar and German Film Award winner. In Leipzig's well-filled Kupfersaal, he prepared his grand piano with chopsticks, among other things, and produced his characteristic sounds from what felt like another world. Trumpeter and Bayer Arts & Culture stARTacademy artist Rike Huy accompanied him as a support act.
Together with the Aris Quartet, soprano Christiane Karg devoted herself to songs by Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in an intimate atmosphere. Still "ECHO Rising Stars" of the European Concert Hall Organization in 2019, the quartet also won the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2020 and has since made guest appearances in all major music centers of the world.
Wallis Bird is a tirelessly creative singer-songwriter. With the band Spark, she has put together the program “Visions of Venus”. Music from nearly a millennium of musical history penned by women poets and composers - from early Italian Baroque to the Irishwoman's own songs, from Hildegard von Bingen to Kate Bush.
"A funky night" and pure joie de vivre was presented by conductor Jules Buckley at the festival's grand finale concert in front of more than a thousand people, accompanied by multi-percussionist, Grammy winner and YouTube star Louis Cole. The Dutch orchestra, which is comparable to a big band, was one of the musical partners of stars such as Robbie Williams or Celine Dion.
You can already look forward to this: Bayer Arts & Culture is again planning a nationwide program of cultural highlights for spring 2024. More information will be announced in fall 2023.