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Lucerne Festival Forward: “Come close and move forward together”

The first edition of the new fall festival for contemporary music will feature participatory projects and new listening experiences under the theme of “Networks”

Lucerne Festival Forward, the new annual festival that starts in November, gives ideas from the young generation of musicians a platform of their own. Members of the Lucerne Festival Academy network have teamed up as curators to create the program, together with Contemporary director Felix Heri and Festival dramaturge Mark Sattler. For the first edition, which takes place from 19 to 21 November 2021, they will deploy a variety of ensembles from the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra to design the concerts in and around the KKL Luzern. “With ‘Forward’ we are breaking new ground to overcome the gap between ‘new music’ and the audience and to open up new listening experiences,” explains Michael Haefliger, Executive and Artistic Director of Lucerne Festival. The concerts will use spatial surroundings in different and unusual ways, experiment with new formats, focus on lesser-known voices and aesthetic perspectives on the creation of contemporary music, and purposely mix nationalities, generations, and genders.

The programming for the new festival was developed within the framework of a new artistic approach that might be summed up in the phrase “come close and move forward together.” In the spring of 2021, a widespread call for proposals was initially issued to members of the Academy network, which currently comprises more than 1,200 artists worldwide. The call was for project proposals and ideas on the theme of “networks.” A group of 18 musicians, who are called Contemporary Leaders in the new festival, were selected to develop the programming. They include such musicians as the tuba player Jack Adler-McKean, who participated in Lucerne Festival Young Performance in 2015; the violinist Winnie Huang, who performed as a dancer-mime in Stockhausen’s INORI at the 2018 Summer Festival; and the pianist Helga Karen, winner of the Fritz Gerber Award in 2020. A number of webinars (Webinar 2 is scheduled for 30 July 2021 at 4 p.m. CET) is being held to allow the public to participate in the creative process. More dates will follow in the fall.

The theme of “networks” is also threaded through the concerts. All of the events offer new, special settings. Winnie Huang will create 10-minute performances for only one attendee at a time throughout the festival, resulting in an intense one-to-one situation. Annea Lockwood’s Water and Memory and Michael Pisaro’s ricefall also involve the listeners. ricefall has been purposely designed as a participatory project for everyone. Participants let grains of rice trickle like rain onto a variety of objects and surfaces, thus enabling an immersive, meditative sound experience. Meanwhile, Olga Neuwirth’s spatial-music piece Construction in space sets sound in motion, positioning the musicians around the audience in the KKL Luzern’s Lucerne Hall. Pauline Oliveros’ Out of the Dark, which is performed in complete darkness, is also conceived as spatial music and, like Lockwood’s work, aims at inducing “deep listening” such that the audience members immerse themselves in the time-space continuum of the sound and become part of it.
A new piece by the Swiss percussionist and composer Jessie Cox will be premiered and is one of six works commissioned by the curatorial team to respond to the festival theme as well as to the unique architecture and acoustics of the KKL Concert Hall. “Networks,” moreover, are at the center of the various models of musical self-organization that, in addition to Lockwood and Oliveros, Luis Fernando Amaya’s Tinta Roja, Tinta Negra, José-Luis Hurtado’s Retour, and George Lewis’s Artificial Life 2007 explore by using open scores that involve improvisational elements. And the late Louis Andriessen’s Workers Union, which will open the festival on the patio right outside the KKL Luzern and on the Europaplatz, also explores the relationship between freedom and discipline in ensemble playing — with decidedly political implications. Lucerne Festival Forward is at its core about the relationship between music and the world.

The topic of nature forms a programmatic feature, and Andriessen, Neuwirth, Lewis, and Liza Lim explicitly negotiate political, social, anthropological, and ecological themes in their works.

The Curatorial Team of Lucerne Festival Forward comprises:

Chloë Abbott trumpet (Great Britain)

Jack Adler-McKean tuba (Great Britain)

Cecilia Bercovich violin and viola (Spain)

Ettore Biagi clarinet (Italy)

Winnie Huang violin and viola, gestural performance artist (China/Australia)

Helga Karen piano (Finland)

Edward Kass double bass (USA)

Marina Kifferstein violin, composer (USA)

Angus Lee flute, composer and conductor (China)

Alex Lipowski percussion (USA)

Stephen Menotti trombone (USA)

Benjamin Mitchell clarinet (USA)

Benjamin Roidl-Ward bassoon , improviser (USA)

Michelle Ross violin (USA)

James Austin Smith oboe (USA)

Nathan Watts cello (USA)

Johanna Wu violin, performer and improviser (USA)

Andrew Zhou piano (USA/Canada)

Further information and registration for the Webinars at Blog posts at:

Tickets to Lucerne Festival Forward go on sale online starting on 3 August at 12.00 noon (Lucerne time) at

Friday, 19 November | 22.00 | Opening/Happening | Europaplatz adjacent to the KKL Luzern Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO)
Louis Andriessen Workers Union for any loud-sounding group of instruments
Saturday, 20 November | 16.00 | Museum Concert | Kunstmuseum Luzern
Members of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestras (LFCO) improvise to works by Vivian Suter
Saturday, 20 November | 19.30 | Concert 1 | KKL Luzern, Concert Hall
Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) | Mariano Chiacchiarini conductor “Water/Nature” | Annea Lockwood Water and Memory for a group of 12 or more performers | George Lewis Artificial Life 2007 for large ensemble | Liza Lim Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus for ensemble
Saturday, 20 November | 22.00 | Concert 2 | KKL Luzern, Concert Hall
Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) | Mariano Chiacchiarini conductor “From Darkness to Light” | Pauline Oliveros Out of the Dark | Luis Fernando Amaya Tinta Roja, Tinta Negra arrangement for open instrumentation, a microtonally tuned jarana, and electronics
José-Luis Hurtado Retour for seven instruments | Jessie Cox new work (world premiere, commissioned by Lucerne Festival for the LFCO/Lucerne Festival Forward)
Sunday, 21 November | 12.00 | Children’s Concert | KKL Luzern, Rehearsal Hall
A workshop program on the Festival theme of “networks” with Helga Karen piano, Maggie Hasspacher double bass, and Xizi Wang percussion
In collaboration with Kultissimo
Sunday, 21 November | 17.00 | Concert 3 | KKL Luzern, Concert Hall

Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) | Mariano Chiacchiarini conductor “Rainfall 1” | Michael Pisaro ricefall for 16 or more performers (cooperation with the Forum Neue Musik Luzern) | Various Composers new commissions (world premieres, commissioned by Lucerne Festival for the LFCO/Lucerne Festival Forward)

Registration to attend the performance of Pisaro’s ricefall at
Sunday, 21 November | 19.30 | Concert 4 | KKL Luzern, Concert Hall
Ensemble of the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) | Elena Schwarz conductor “Rainfall 2” | Rebecca Saunders to and fro for violin and oboe | Pierre Boulez Dérive 1 for six instruments | Reading from Ray Bradbury’s The Long Rain | Olga Neuwirth Construction in space for four soloists, four ensemble groups, and live electronics
Saturday, 20 and Sunday, 21 November | numerous performances on both days | One to One | KKL Luzern, Clubräume
A one-to-one performance with Winnie Huang
Charlie Sdraulig tend for gesturing, vocalizing performer, and listener

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