2017 COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE

Sven Helbig

"Romantic, evocative and cinematic, his music manages at the same time to please and educate, seduce and challenge, renewing the promise of a European musical aesthetic that sometimes threatens to disappear, only to return as persistently relevant as the ancient continent it serenades."
Naked but Safe

"Helbig is a master at evoking a rich convoy of textures, moods and emotions with a minimum of notes."
The Gramophone

 
Sven Helbig grew up in Eisenhüttenstadt, went to New York shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall, and lives today in Dresden. Helbig’s symphonic images are closely connected to his life, experiences, aspirations and also the voids between epochs, systems and continents.

Through various projects, Sven Helbig realised early on that music works best above and beyond standardised concepts. He grooved on both sides of the Atlantic as a drummer, and in 2003 he produced the project “Mein Herz Brennt” (My Heart Burns) based on song ideas by Rammstein. A year later he performed “Battleship Potemkin” with the Pet Shop Boys, and in 2009, he recorded with the Fauré Quartett as producer of their “Popsongs” album. The friction between the feeling of security of yesteryear and the challenges of the present is one of his central motifs. In this respect, Helbig’s little symphonies are in fact substantial works, for they continue to expand within their framework.

The motifs are not overloaded, but instead settle in the ear, so that they linger even after the last note has sounded. Helbig’s music thus runs counter to the societal trend, with more and more information crammed into less and less form; information media are reducing in size, yet information density is increasing. Helbig, on the other hand, pursues the aim of minimising information while maximising form, in spite of the small formats.

With this consistent path of simplification he wants to reach not only advanced classical music experts, but also those listeners who know less about classical music. “When one writes a three-and-a-half-minute symphony, a song is automatically created”, according to his credo. “There is a genetic relationship; but in a song, one has to express within just a few bars what a symphony affords a whole movement for expressing. However, if one compresses a symphony in all of its dimensions of length, dynamics and emotions, then a song is what remains - whether one likes it or not; it doesn’t work any other way. In this respect, the Pocket Symphonies are in fact symphonic songs.”

 

Retrospective - Composers

Thomas Adès, Great Britain
Gustavo Beytelmann, Argentina
Chen Yi, China
Sofia Gubaidulina, Russia
John Harbison, USA
David Philip Hefti, Switzerland
Olli Mustonen, Finland
Matthias Pintscher, Germany
Helmut Oehring, Germany
Torsten Rasch, Germany
Wolfgang Rihm, Germany
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Finland
Iris ter Schiphorst, Germany
Steffen Schleiermacher, Germany
Daniel Schnyder, Switzerland
Steven Stucky, USA
Mark-Anthony Turnage, Great Britain
Erkki-Sven Tüür, Estonia
Jörg Widmann, Germany
Zhou Long, China

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