Dear friends of the Ruhr Piano Festival,
we heartily greet you for our 29th edition! Our programme for 2017 reflects this year’s chosen motto, “The Americas”, and we also welcome increased initiative on the part of two Festival cities. As always, this major piano event will devote its efforts to presenting the great soloists of our time, along with a series of new talents we invite you to discover.
We had already dedicated our annual focus to American piano music in the years 2002 and 2012. Now, in 2017, Philip Glass’s 80th birthday serves as a welcome occasion to redirect our gaze to the New World, the cultural variety and quality of which was unfortunately somewhat sidelined in the course of last year’s events. Thus, with this year’s American focus, I particularly wish to emphasize and recall the humanist values which its artists have always embodied: for example, Philip Glass, John Adams, Leonard Bernstein and, last not least, George Gershwin. Those musicians have marked my view of the US much more than the events we witnessed over the past months. I hope and trust that you feel the same. It is also thoroughly worthwhile to direct our gaze to the treasures of South American piano music: we will feature works by composers such as Alberto Ginastera, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Astor Piazzolla.
Two cities where the Festival was already present are now introducing new, exciting initiatives for 2017. This is a thrilling way of enriching and intensifying our activities. The City of Wuppertal has a venue that many of our artists particularly cherish: the Historic Town Hall. Thanks to continual, reliable support on the part of the Vollmann Group – a medium-sized company from Gevelsberg –, we had already been able to host at least one annual recital there. Now, thanks to the Stadthalle managing director’s energetic initiative, we have been able to obtain welcome support from further sponsors and promoters located in Wuppertal. And thus, starting with Daniel Barenboim on 15 March 2017, the Ruhr Piano Festival will be able to hold four events this year in such an inspiring historical atmosphere. We are likewise thrilled to have been invited by Tony Cragg to hold an event in his Wuppertal Sculpture Park: thanks, once more, to the NATIONAL-BANK, we will be able to celebrate a world premiere in that glass exposition building’s beautiful ambiance. The second major metropolitan initiative comes from the City of Bochum. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of our friend, conductor Steven Sloane, we can celebrate the recent inauguration of a new concert hall with almost miraculous acoustics in the very heart of the Ruhr Region, and we have been invited to make ourselves at home there. I am indeed certain that piano music fans will soon be thronging to hear recitals and concerts in the “Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr”! We thus look forward to holding a total of five concerts in this new auditorium in 2017, starting with a celebration of Gidon Kremer’s 70th birthday in tandem with Martha Argerich and the Kremerata Baltica: an already sold-out concert that will take place on 9 March 2017.
Of course, this year as well, you can count on the great variety of venues you have always come to expect from the Festival. Our concerts will take place on a total of 37 podiums in 22 different towns. For instance, after our first successful event there in 2016, we are thrilled to return to the city of Münster.
Celebrating over ten years of social commitment, our Education Projects have grown ever more important. Thus, we plan to go on expanding them in terms of quantity and creative quality. After having received five important German and international prizes, the Ruhr Piano Festival Education Projects were now honored with the coveted ECHO Klassik Award in October 2016. This inspires us to maintain and increase our commitment to integrating children and teenagers from immigrant and refugee families via our projects in Duisburg-Marxloh; the same applies to the projects of inclusion which we organize in collaboration with the Waldschule in Buchholz. Naturally, another heartfelt wish is to open our KlavierGarten workshops to further young newcomers. In this connection, I recommend that you view a video filmed on the occasion of Lang Lang’s visit to our Little Piano School in April 2016: www.klavierfestival.de/LangLang
In our role as the cultural flagship of the Ruhr Circle of Initiatives, we can rely on its moderators and member enterprises, and they are the ones who make our concerts and educational activities possible. As one of those sponsors and promoters, I wish to thank Klaus Engel, this year’s Festival Patron, for his idealistic commitment as a protector of the Piano Festival, and for the energetic support we have received from Evonik Industries AG, of which he is CEO. We are honored to have this important Ruhr enterprise at our side as main sponsor for 2017. I extend my heartfelt thanks to our partner foundations, to our Main Festival Donors Gabriele and Jürgen Kluge, and to many other donors – particularly those who continually offer their support as members of the Silver Circle. You get the picture: the Ruhr Piano Festival is a truly collaborative undertaking. Thus, in this year, I once again particularly wish to thank my office team. Due to their incredible commitment, all those who are involved in the Piano Festival – our artists and our audience – can grow new wings, once again, in 2017!
Let yourself be thrilled: we look forward to welcoming you!