The chamber music festival Con spirito made the music city of Leipzig resound in 2021
Nine days, eight European Heritage Sites, 20 artists of world renown, eight out of ten sold-out concerts (including two additional concerts), four children’s concerts, a Festival Lounge and around 1,600 guests (in compliance with the Corona hygiene measures) – these are the figures for the successful first season of the Leipzig chamber music festival Con spirito, which ended on Sunday. The series of events thrilled audiences with the sound of Leipzig as a city of music. From 11 to 19 September 2021, the city’s vibrant musical tradition came together in a new international festival, artistically directed by cellist Peter Bruns and organised by Gregor Nowak (director of the Schumann House). Stars of the chamber music scene such as Daniel Hope, Antje Weithaas, Martin Helmchen, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Alexander Melnikov, Eckart Runge, Stephen Waarts and many other artists performed at the places where Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg, Richard Wagner and Clara and Robert Schumann wrote audible history. Daniel Hope provided an extraordinary, moving climax in his solo recital in the Thomaskirche. Baroque and modern seemed to merge here programmatically and artistically in the highest quality.
“With Con spirito, we have for the first time created a chamber music festival together with the famous composers’ houses and venues, which will make the chamber music sound so characteristic of Leipzig, quasi the DNA of Leipzig’s bourgeois music culture, audible far beyond the borders of the music city,” says Gregor Nowak. The 2nd season of Con spirito will take place from 10 to 18 September 2022.
“Music is everywhere in the air” is how Edvard Grieg described Leipzig’s musical culture in the mid-19th century, which now lives on in the Con spirito chamber music festival: with concert experiences in authentic venues that made audiences sit up and take notice. Con spirito opened on 11 September in the Gewandhaus, followed by evenings in the Schumann House, the Old Nikolai School, St Thomas’ Church, the Bach Archive, the C. F. Peters music publishing building with the Grieg Encounter Centre, the Mendelssohn House and the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre.
The two octets by Gewandhauskapellmeister Niels Wilhelm Gade and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy formed the programme of the festival. Each evening, the Con spirito artists formed new ensembles and provided impressive interpretations of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet op. 44, Johannes Brahms’ Piano Trio op. 8, Edvard Grieg’s 3rd Violin Sonata op. 45 as well as rather rarely heard compositions by Schumann’s friend Ludwig Schuncke or Grieg’s teachers at the Leipzig Conservatory Ignaz Moscheles and Carl Reinecke. The final matinee of Con spirito also marked the start of the European Chamber Music Academy Leipzig (EKAL) at the Academy of Music and Theatre. The musical experiences can be reverberated on the website in the programme podcasts with Peter Bruns and with a Spotify playlist for each concert.
Children at Rahn Education in Leipzig experienced a lively journey back in time to Viennese classical music with a curiosity-awakening school concert. Two of the four events were broadcast live to the Rahn Schools Cairo and could be followed via stream on the Rahn Education website. The Notenspur Day on 11 September set the mood for Con spirito with a family festival and concerts in Leipzig’s city centre. This was organised by the Notenspur Association.
Con spirito’s partners and sponsors include: the City of Leipzig, the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony, the Rahn Dittrich Group European Foundation for Education and Culture, Aengevelt Immobilien, Sparkasse Leipzig, Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik, Blumenland Engler, Kocmoc and Ahoy Leipzig.
Leipzig’s European Heritage Sites comprise nine outstanding institutions of music history and the present: the Bach Archive, the Mendelssohn House, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Schumann House, the Old Nikolai School, the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre, the C. F. Peters music publishing house with Grieg meeting place, and St Thomas’ and St Nicholas’ Churches. They are connected by the Leipziger Notenspur and the chamber music festival Con spirito.