The stARTfestival 2024

Ute Lemper

The program of the stARTfestival 2024 is here! From April 13 to June 23, 2024, culture enthusiasts can expect a festival without fear of contact. This year you can expect radically reinterpreted classics, multimedia spectacles, a tuba player playing heavy metal, real world stars like Ute Lemper, impressive choreographies, and more!


The grand opening, in three-four time. Dance until you drop. A colorful bouquet of melodies and harmonies. But, as you would expect from the stARTfestival, it won’t just be the same old popular songs. Pass it on: Bring along your friends and family to dance, eat and drink. Meet other culture enthusiasts and arrange to get together at other events during the festival. As we are all well aware, culture is at its most enjoyable when we can experience it together. Feel free to come dressed in evening wear, whatever that means to you. After all, we’re in the Rhineland. Here, there’s a fine line between dressing up and dressing in costume, and not just during carnival!

Graz Salon Orchestra and others

Alexej Gerassimez
Alexej Gerassimez © Nikolaj-Lund

Hands rubbing together rhythmically. Clicking fingers and clapping hands. Striking chest and thighs. Stamping feet. Alexej Gerassimez not only plays pretty much all man-made percussion instruments, but also his own body – and anything that can produce sound by beating. The concerts of this friendly native of Essen, who was a member of the stARTacademy from 2018 to 2021, are exciting happenings with plenty of surprises and embrace different styles. Classical, new music, jazz, minimal music – it’s all in there. A wonderful reunion – and a premiere for Pears Jewish Campus, the new meeting place in Berlin.

Alexej Gerassimez (percussion)

Fatma Said © James Bort (white)
Fatma Said © James Bort

30 years of Bayer in Weimar: a reason to celebrate. This is why, for the first time, the stARTfestival is coming to Wartburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and place of great symbolic importance in Germany. Hosting: Fatma Said. She owns the great stages of this world and drifts between cultural circles without fear of creating rifts. Whether pop songs or art songs: she makes every moment an experience. In her third and final year as a member of the stARTacademy, she is presenting herself as a chamber music partner, with works by Schumann, Schubert and Mendelssohn. This is not a classical song recital. That would be too simple for Fatma. Instead, it’s about making music together with friends. With Sabine Meyer and Malcolm Martineau – and with you.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Franz Lachner: Seit ich ihn gesehen

Robert Schumann: Seit ich ihn gesehen

Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken: Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint

Robert Schumann: Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Sonate in Es-Dur, 2. Satz

Louis Spohr: Zwiegesang

Franz Lachner: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Chi sa chi sa qual sia K. 582

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Ah! Spiegarti, oh Dio K. 178

Franz Schubert: Der Hirt auf dem Felsen D 965


Fatma Said (soprano)
Sabine Meyer (clarinet)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)


Auftritts des Bundesajugendbaletts © Kiran West
Bundesjugendballett © Kiran West

"Sounds as if one had wiped over the still wet 'Tristan' score": Not all contemporaries liked Arnold Schönberg's daring composition "Transfigured Night" in 1899. This also had to do with the original: Richard Dehmel's poem is about a child conceived out of wedlock - and about a forgiving husband. Scandal! In 1942, the touching music was used in a ballet for the first time. In 2021, Marijn Rademaker staged it for a film with the Dortmund Ballet. "...ravishingly choreographed," praised the Ruhr Nachrichten. The exclusive premiere is framed by two congenial compositions by Erich Korngold and a choreography to Samuel Barber’s "Adagio for Strings".


€22/5 plus booking fees

Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings

Erich Korngold: Vier Lieder des Abschieds (Four Songs of Farewell), Op. 14 and Piano Quintet in E Major, Op. 15

Arnold Schönberg: Verklärte Nacht für Streichsextett op. 4


Line up change:

Bundesjugendballett (dance)

Marijn Rademaker (choreography, Verklärte Nacht)

Raymond Hilbert (choreography, Silver Lining)


Quatuor Agate (string quartet)

Emma Wernig (viola)

Maciej Kulakowski (cello)

Hannah Gries (soprano)

Volker Krafft (piano)

Christoph Reuter
Christoph Reuter © Lara Hoffmann

He is a classically trained composer and pianist, with the certificates to prove it! He discovered his talent for cabaret when he was Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen’s sidekick. During the program “Everyone is musical! (Apart from some people)”, Christoph Reuter explains key questions in an entertaining way. What is the difference between classical, jazz and pop? What makes a song a hit? And what can music do that no drug can? Above all, he will show you that you are much more musical than you think – and teach you how to play the piano in two minutes. The most enjoyable music lesson of your life!


“Everyone is musical! (Apart from some people)”


€22/5 plus booking fees

Christoph Reuter (musical cabaret)

Dominik Wagner and Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen (directors)

Beatrice Berrut
Beatrice Berrut © Elias Hassos

“The music must live on,” says the pianist and conductor Beatrice Berrut, who was born in Valais, Switzerland. With her own idiosyncratic arrangements, she brings works from many different eras to the piano and into the here and now. Mahler and Schoenberg. Schumann and Bach. And always returning to Liszt, who himself sought and found inspiration in Switzerland. Her concert evenings are a finely balanced flow. As part of the stARTfestival, she invites us to join her for a Lounge Night: Relax, lie back, close your eyes and open yourselves to the sound and experience her own compositions.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Beatrice Berrut: „Carnets Stellaires“ (German: Sternenbücher, English: Stellar Notebooks)

Beatrice Berrut (piano)

Patricia Kopatchinskaja  © Marco Borggreve
Patricia Kopatchinskaja © Marco Borggreve

She is one of the most enthralling violinists of our time. An artist who thinks about the world and shares these thoughts with the world. As a soloist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays with the best orchestras. In daring interpretations, she reveals what was so modern about classical works at that time. Her fellow musicians say it is an adventure and a pleasure to work with her. At her first concert in Wuppertal, she will be shining as a soloist in Schumann’s last orchestral piece. The Orchestre des Champs-Élysées will be accompanying her on period instruments. Belgian veteran Philippe Herreweghe will be conducting.


€43/31/15/5 plus booking fees

Robert Schumann: Overture in D minor to “Scenes from Goethe’s Faust”

Robert Schumann: Concerto for violin and orchestra in D minor

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90


Orchestre des Champs-Élysées

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin)

Philippe Herreweghe (conductor)

Manchester Collective concert
Manchester Collective © César Vásquez Altamirano

Art inspires music. Music inspires art. The multidisciplinary Manchester Collective is bringing its most ambitious project to date to Leverkusen. The multimedia show brings together very different musical responses to Mark Rothko’s work. A unique lighting installation frames this musical journey, beckoning listeners to find a space of introspection and contemplation. Three of the most exciting avant-garde composers of our time have created new works for this. And the crowning glory: Morton Feldman’s contemplative composition “Rothko Chapel”, written in 1971 as a tribute to the US artist who died a year earlier. Open your ears, eyes and mind to this breathtaking audiovisual experience.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Isobel Waller-Bridge Rothko No.9 (German premiere)
Edmund Finnis Blue Divided by Blue (German premiere)
Katherine Balch Songs and interludes (German premiere)
Missy Mazzoli Vespers for Violin
Arvo Pärt Solfeggio
Saariaho 7 Papillons - No. 2
Morton Feldman Rothko Chapel


Further Information


Manchester Collective:

Rakhi Singh (Violin)
Donald Grant (Violin)
Ruth Gibson (Viola)
Nick Trygstad Cello)
Delia Stevens (Percussion)
Katherine Tinker (Celesta)



Ute Lemper
Ute Lemper © Max-Mara

One of the few international stars among German singers. An artist who also trusts her audience to appreciate sophisticated productions – and is loved for it. She doesn’t just sing songs, she brings stories to life. Ute Lemper already dedicated her first album in 1986 to the songs of Kurt Weill. The pieces composed by Hanns Eisler, Brecht’s most important musical partner after Weill, are also long-time favorites of hers. A magnificent evening of music is in store. With exciting insights into the lives of two brilliant composers. And with the WDR Funkhausorchester.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Songs by Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler


Ute Lemper (vocals)

WDR Funkhausorchester

Enrico Delamboye (conductor)

Kamea Dance Company
Kamea Dance Company © Kfir Bolotin

Kamea: A Hebrew word meaning lucky charm. The Kamea Dance Company from Beer Sheva has delighted people around the world for two decades. At the invitation of Bayer Arts & Culture, the virtuoso dancers have also enchanted Leverkusen on a number of occasions. The company has a unique and impressive style: Colorful choreographies create multi-layered worlds, including in “Wild Awake”. Immerse yourself in a surreal daydream in search of happiness. Let yourself be carried away by hope, passion, memory and fantasy. An event that will leave you speechless.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Wild Awake


Tamir Ginz (choreography)

Kamea Dance Company (dance)

Avi Belleli (music)

Shay Yehudai (light design)

Andreas Hofmeier
Andreas Hofmeier © Philippe Gerlach

This might be the coolest thing that wind music has to offer: Andreas Martin Hofmeir is a pioneer. He co-founded the cult band LaBrassBanda and has received many awards as a classical tubist, but also as a cabaret artist. He is an author and showmaster, a sought-after soloist and chamber musician, conductor and professor. This varied repertoire is brought to the fore in the Bayer Wind Orchestra – a lively ensemble that is always open to new ideas. Conducted by Tobias Schütte, it presents exceptional symphonic wind music – full of passion and the joy of playing. We are excited to see what they come up with together!


€22/5 plus booking fees

Andreas Martin Hofmeir (tuba)


Tobias Schütte (conductor)

Männerchor Bayer Leverkusen
Männerchor Bayer Leverkusen © Männerchor Bayer Leverkusen

A male voice choir: Isn’t that a bit outdated? Well, yes and no! The Bayer Leverkusen Male Voice Choir is proud of being 120 years old – but on the occasion of its anniversary it shows how much life it still has in it. The 70-strong choir is undertaking an ambitious collaboration with Viennese band The Erlkings. The composition of this four-piece band is a little odd – vocals and guitar, cello, trumpet/tuba and percussion. The mission: presenting classical songs in an entirely non-classical way. Sometimes pop, sometimes country, sometimes folk: Singer Bryan Benner, also known as “The Schubadour”, & co. perform Schubert in a new light. Working with a male voice choir is an adventure for them too – and for us.

Songs by Franz Schubert and others


The Erlkings:

Bryan Benner (baritone, guitar)

Ivan Turkalj (cello)

Simon Teurezbacher (tuba)

Thomas Toppler (percussion, vibraphone)


Männerchor Bayer Leverkusen Claudia Rübben-Laux (conductor)

Tubist spielt die Tuba © Thomas Brunot
Tubist © Thomas Brunot

The stage is set for young tuba virtuoso Joshua Williams, the newest member of the stARTacademy. Born in New Orleans, raised in Atlanta, and trained at Juilliard School in New York. We deliberately chose a rising talent from the US, because we want to bring together artists from very different worlds. So they can inspire each other. And so they can work together to create something really new. On this evening, Joshua Williams will meet tuba ‘berserker’ Andreas Martin Hofmeir and his ensemble for the first time. Four tubists and a drummer, spurring each other on. Hard rock, techno and Hungarian dances. It would also be quite at home at the Wacken heavy metal festival!


€22/5 plus booking fees

Andreas Martin Hofmeir

Joshua Williams and others (Tuba)

N.N. (percussion)

Giorgi Gigashvili
Giorgi Gigashvili © Kelly de Geer

Learning from one another, growing together: Bayer Arts & Culture’s stARTacademy aims to make this possible for artists. This family reunion is a good opportunity to do so. Giorgi Gigashvili has been supported by the stARTacademy since 2023. The young Georgian piano virtuoso has already received an award from his idol, Martha Argerich. The Georgian-Swiss pianist Tamar Beraia was a member from 2015 to 2018 – she has matured into an artist who captivates audiences with her intense performances. Third in the group is Tobias Feldmann, who was also in the stARTacademy from 2015 to 2018. Today, he is one of the most prominent violinists of his generation. Bar Avni, who has been with us since 2021, conducts “her” Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra. On the program are: Humperdinck’s charming but rarely performed Wagner arrangements.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Richard Wagner/Engelbert Humperdinck: Träume (Dreams) from “Wesendonck Lieder” for solo violin and small orchestra


Richard Wagner/Engelbert Humperdinck: Tristan and Isolde: Prelude to the first act, arranged for string orchestra and piano by Engelbert Humperdinck


Richard Wagner: Siegfried-Idyll


Richard Wagner/Engelbert Humperdinck: Parsifal: A Bühnenweihfestspiel (stage-consecrating festival play) in three acts, arranged for small orchestra and two pianos, prelude to act 1


Richard Wagner: Karfreitagszauber (Good Friday Music)


Giorgi Gigashvili & Tamar Beraia (piano)

Tobias Feldmann (violin)

Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra

Bar Avni (conductor)

Benjamin Appl
Benjamin Appl © Uwe-Arens Sony-Classical

The accordion is the underdog of the musical world. Martynas Levickis has set out to change that. In his hands, the squeeze box becomes a box of magic tricks: Audiences are amazed at the sounds the world accordion champion (yes, really!) from Lithuania can get out of this instrument. For this evening with baritone Benjamin Appl, he has dug deep into his stacks of sheet music. You may hear classics by Piazzolla, but also rare gems arranged for the accordion by Levickis. How about Philip Glass or Bach on the accordion? Prepare to be surprised. And get ready for a wild ride through various genres and eras.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Gustav Mahler: Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht

Alma Mahler: Laue Sommernacht

Arnold Schönberg: Gigerlette

Franck Angelis: Andante doloroso

Maurice Ravel: Don Quichotte à Dulcinee

Astor Piazzolla: Oblivion

Friedrich Hollaender: Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt (Falling in Love Again)

Kurt Weill: Die Moritat vom Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife)

Philip Glass: Étude No. 6

George Gershwin: I Got Rhythm


And many more…


Martynas Levickis (accordion)

Benjamin Appl (baritone)

The Red Shoes

He is moved by what moves people. Philippe Kratz, who was born in Leverkusen, has conquered the dance world, first as a dancer and then as a choreographer. He blends classical and contemporary dance with street dance in a highly creative way. Now, he is returning to his hometown. His first full-length choreography is dedicated to a ballet classic: “The Red Shoes”. In Andersen’s fairytale, the young girl Karen yearns for a pair of red shoes – but only after she has seen them being worn by a princess (the first influencer?). Once she finally has her own red shoes, she is unable to stop dancing. In 1948, the quintessential ballet film entitled “The Red Shoes” was released. Philippe Kratz translates this story to our consumerist society – the effect is highly moving.


€22/5 plus booking fees

The Red Shoes


Philippe Kratz (choreography)

Nuovo Balletto di Toscana (dance)

Sarah Ströbele (dramatic composition)

Pierfrancesco Perrone (music)

Giulia Maria Pastore (light design)

Grace Lyell (costume design)

Philippe Kratz

Grace Lyell (set design)

Mary Komasa
Mary Komasa © Daniel Roché

What happens when a hypercreative singer/songwriter of Polish origin takes on the work of the national composer of her homeland? Who knows? After all, we have given Mary Komasa complete freedom to ‘migrate’ Frédéric Chopin into her sonic world. At the stARTfestival, we also like to be surprised. Growing up in Warsaw with classical music, she then became active in the hip hop scene in Paris. Now, she lives in the melting pot of Berlin and no longer adheres to strictly defined genres. Her subtle art pop electrifies her Instagram community – and is also in demand in films. She has developed the “Migrating Chopin” production with her husband, film composer Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz – the ultimate musical dream team!


€22/5 plus booking fees

Migrating Chopin

Frédéric Chopin: Works and arrangements


Antoni und Mary Komasa-Łazarkiewicz & Guests (composition)

Mary Komasa-Łazarkiewicz (vocals)

Frank Peter Zimmermann
Frank Peter Zimmermann © Harald Hoffmann - Hänssler-CLASSIC

Unmistakable sound, effortless virtuosity, sharp intellect. Frank Peter Zimmermann is an outstanding violinist – and an artist who knows what he wants. In a stroke of genius, he has selected a piece for this concert that is rarely performed: the profound “Concerto gregoriano” by Ottorino Respighi. Added to this will be the moving “Symphony No. 1 in C minor” by the “musician of God”, Anton Bruckner. Zimmermann will be joined by the Bamberg Symphony, one of the best German symphony orchestras. After decades, it is once again performing in Wuppertal. A rare opportunity – don’t miss it!


€43/31/15/5 plus booking fees

Ottorino Respighi: Concerto for violin and orchestra “Concerto gregoriano”

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 1 in C minor


Bamberg Symphony

Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin)

Andrew Manze (conductor)

Catriona Morison
Catriona Morison © Andrew Low

Life and death. Joy and sorrow. Hope and despair. Great emotions have always inspired great composers to make great music. We have selected some of the most soulful pieces for you: a concert evening that invites you to pause and reflect. Naturally with a great ensemble. With Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison, the versatile l’arte del mondo orchestra, the chamber choir of the Cologne University of Music and Dance and speaker Maria Hartmann. Altenberger Dom offers a dignified setting for this very special evening.


€22/5 plus booking fees

Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten for string orchestra and bell


Claudio Monteverdi: Lamento d’Arianna for soprano, strings and basso continuo


Henryk Górecki: String quartet No. 1, Op. 62 “Already It Is Dusk”


Richard Wagner: “Im Treibhaus” (In the Greenhouse) from the “Wesendonck Lieder” (choral arrangement by Clytus Gottwald)


Johann Jacob Froberger: “Lamentation sur ce, que j’ay été volé” from Partita in G minor FbWV 614 for harpsichord


Inger Christensen: Butterfly Valley: A Requiem


Hector Berlioz: “Sur les lagunes: Lamento” from “Les nuits d’ été” (choral arrangement by Clytus Gottwald)


Pietro Locatelli: Concerto grosso, Op. 7 No. 6 “Il pianto d’Arianna”


Gustav Mahler: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (choral arrangement by Clytus Gottwald)


Henry Purcell: “Thy hand, Belinda” – “When I am laid in earth” from “Dido and Aeneas”


Chamber choir of the Cologne University of Music and Dance
Florian Helgath
Maria Hartmann (reading)
Catriona Morison (mezzo-soprano)


l’arte del mondo
Werner Ehrhardt
Frank Siebert (design)

Walpurgisplakat © kopffarben

A frenzied finale for the whole family – with the stage setting being painted live! Miraculous things happen in Goethe’s ballad Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night). Druids and enchanted forms, men-wolves and dragon-women are up to no good, and glad songs resound. “Wilder yet the sounds are growing!” exclaims the lyrical narrator. Of course, that doesn’t mean Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s witty cantata from 1833. Multitalented Marc Schwämmlein and his cross-creative team turn the lively masquerade into a magical spectacle. The artists’ collective Kopffarben conjures up magical worlds on large projection surfaces. A riot of sound and color. Fantastic, fanciful, fascinating!


€5 plus booking fees

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy/ Marc Schwämmlein: Die Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night)


Artists’ collective Kopffarben:
Julia Schäfer
Johannes Schmidt (animation)
Marc Schwämmlein (design)


Ensemble Taugenichts:
Valerie Wilhelm
Marc Schwämmlein (vocals)
Bayer Philharmonic Orchestra
Bar Avni (conductor)

Manz & Summer
Manz & Summer © ACT Mirko-Polo

Discovering and fostering young talent at an early age. This is what the stARTacademy hopes to achieve, and Jakob Manz is the perfect example. When the saxophonist joined the academy in 2021, he was only 20. Today, he is celebrated as a Young Lion. His performances are full of “natural energy” – that’s also the title of his debut, released on renowned jazz label ACT. This label is also home to pianist Johanna Summer, another exceptional talent. The intimate interaction of these two artists creates a special sort of magic. As a duo, they create their own musical universe – by turns tender and fragile, rhythmically gripping, and intoxicatingly melodic.

Jakob Manz (saxophone)

Johanna Summer (piano)

frühstART events as part of the stARTfestival

A cultural education program for children of pre-school 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:

farbton KiKo © Torsten Kollmer

The wonderful exhibition of sonorous images by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky: Elisaveta Ilina and Sönke Schreiber bring these images to life in their own arrangement of the masterpiece, in a version for piano and percussion. Interactive. A concert experience for listening and participating; for experiencing and dreaming. 

Steffen Wick: Reel
Peter Tschaikowsky: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Casy Cangelosi: Excerpt from "Bad Touch”​​​​​​​
Modest Mussorgsky: Excerpts from "Pictures at an Exhibition”


Duo farbton
Elisaveta Ilina (piano)
Sönke Schreiber (percussion)


Recommended age: Children in years 3 and 4

Jolli sieht Grün
Jolli sieht GRÜN © Carina Faust & KENDIKE

Jorinde Jelen and her fellow musicians wrap up stories from everyday life in jazzy, pop music guaranteed to catch your ear. They take us into the forest, give us insights into the profession of a natural scientist and sensitize us to the great challenges of our time. Not with a raised forefinger, but in a playful, child-friendly and interactive way. 

Jorinde Jelen & Jolli Band

Jorinde Jelen (vocals, moderation)
Volker Dahms (saxophone)
Steffen Greisiger (keyboards, accordion)
Bastian Ruppert (guitar, vocals)
Christian Sievert (bass, vocals)​​​​​​​
Eva Klesse (drums)

Recommended age: Pre-school children

Dirigentenduell © peuserdesign

How do you become famous? Why do you need a conductor? And who is better? Werner Ehrhardt, conductor of the orchestra in residence l'arte del mondo at Bayer Arts & Culture, or Thomas Helfrich, head of Bayer Arts & Culture? The musical showdown. The cult event for school classes.

l’arte del mondo
Werner Ehrhardt, Thomas Helfrich (conductors)


Recommended age: Primary and middle school pupils


Key Visual with Ute Lemper © Max-Mara