Classical music has featured prominently in our work since the program's inception. At the same time, we are also committed to supporting productions that feature contemporary forms of musical expression. Against this background we initiate dance performances and sound experiments as well as musical productions and classical concerts.
An important aim of our activities is to nurture the next generation of creative talent around the world. We do this through our own competitions for aspiring artists (e.g. Siemens Opera Contest) and by forging links between new talents and established international cultural institutions (Carnegie Hall New York, Opera Garnier Paris, Bavarian State Opera, Salzburg Festival).
Hats off to a charismatic winner with a powerful voiceLiubov Medvedeva performed self-confidently and concentrated on the stage in the Palais Garnier. From the very first moment she was sure of the attention and enthusiasm of the audience. She sang every one of her pieces – whether by Donizetti, Mozart or Strauss – with total precision and passion. In the spirit of Georges Bizet's aria "Ouvre ton cœur" (Open Your Heart) she spoke with refreshing openness about her origins, her feelings on stage and creativity in the opera business. The young soprano is the proud winner of the Siemens Opera Contest France 2019.
Liubov, can you tell us something about your background, your musical education and your family?
I was born in Russia, or to be more precise in the north of Russia, above the Arctic Circle. My parents are not musicians themselves. My mother is a nursery school teacher and my father is a policeman. Nonetheless, I have been surrounded by music since my childhood, so my parents have contributed substantially to my musical education. I owe them a great deal.
How would you describe the art of singing?
For me, the art of singing means always being in harmony with my body and with myself. And wherever I perform or whatever I do, I always try to be very precise in my work. It is very important to know where you can improve and where you should change your expression or your technique. Standing on the stage gives me a lot of energy. This energy helps me to do my very best and to perform better every time.
Many people say that opera is all about tradition. But what about innovation and creativity?
Yes, many people say that opera is about tradition and nothing else, but, like any art form, opera changes over time and innovations are inevitable. Our lives are continuously evolving and of course the same also applies to opera. For me, creativity means constantly searching and never standing still. It is a living, dynamic process.
Siemens Opera Contest France 2019
Siemens Arts Program initiated the third Siemens Opera Contest France in Paris. It is a professional singing competition for outstanding young singers.
See the video about the winner and voices about the Siemens Opera Contest.
Kristīne, the perfectionist rebelWhat can we learn from artists? In an unusually open discussion with the ARD music prize winner Kristīne Balanas (violin), we learned a lot about false advisors, trust in one's own intuition and the courage to take risks. The young violinist makes her debut in New York's Carnegie Hall.
Kristīne, you are considered one of the most aspiring international talents. What was your most important decision in your career?
For me one of the most important things has been to always remain true to my principles and never compromise the quality of music. Years ago, I used to cancel concerts, left rehearsals and be quite difficult to work with when I think it was not up to my standards. I was too much of a perfectionist. Perhaps I expected too much or was too idealistic, I was a bit of a rebel. Nowadays I carefully take my next steps and I am not afraid to take risks. Patience is also helpful! Musicians often get a lot of advice and a lot of contradicting advice from various people. It is very important to find a few people whom you can to trust when taking decisions and most importantly trust your own intuition.
You told us that your parents are famous rock musicians in Latvia. Was playing classical music an act of rebellion?
That is a very interesting question! My father was singing rock’n’roll throughout life and made us all sing since we were 2-3 years old. I think it was more like a natural development to go into more and more complex music rather than a rebellion! For me it was later a dilemma between both, when I wanted to do more crazy things in classical music or didn’t get enough happiness just from singing pop songs.
You describe yourself as an advocate of contemporary and lesser-known repertoire.
Yes, I recently took part at a festival in Wales where most of the music was unknown or completely new for me! There were many British and Baltic composers and pieces I would otherwise not have an opportunity to perform or learn. It was such a challenge to discipline myself and not just stick with the usual. It is in a way comfortable and natural for us as human beings to only do the familiar things. I love setting new challenges and to explore music written by living composers!
A few months ago, you played for Siemens colleagues in Berlin Siemensstadt. Did you remember anything special about your performance?
I loved performing at the Siemensstadt and meeting all the audience members afterwards! It was a very special concert because of the people and the wonderful hospitality. I also enjoyed the fact that for many of the audience members this was their first classical music experience. It makes me so happy to know that my concert was maybe the ice breaker and these people will develop a genuine interest in classical music!
A Rebel at Carnegie Hall
The Siemens Arts Program staged a concert with ARD music prize winner Kristīne Balanas (violin) in the Carnegie Hall.
See the video about her debut in New York’s “temple of music”.
When the conference hall becomes a concert hallA treat for the senses - this was offered by the first Siemens lunch concert in Berlin. The outstanding ARD music prize winner Kristīne Balanas (violin) and the Neue Philharmonie Berlin (conductor: Andreas Schulz) thrilled the audience in Siemensstadt with a breathtaking performance that was literally absorbed by the audience. A subsequent lunch offered employees and musicians the opportunity for mutual exchange.
Sound experience of a special kind
The violinist Kristīne Balanas opened the lunch concert together with the Neue Philharmonie Berlin under the direction of Andreas Schulz. The Latvian soloist is one of the fastest-growing talents on the international music scene and has undoubtedly demonstrated her skill and professionalism.
With a remarkable ease she took the audience on a journey through Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor. The audience honoured her excellent performance with minutes of applause.
In the second part of the concert, the Neue Philharmonie once again showed its class and presented excerpts from Ludwig van Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Conductor Andreas Schulz demanded top performance from his talented young musicians, which was again rewarded with sustained cheers. As a thank you for this appreciation, the orchestra, founded in 2017, rounded off the concert with an encore.
Networking with aspiring artists
After the concert, employees and musicians were given the opportunity to exchange ideas with each other and gain insights into the other's working world in an informal atmosphere. Soloist Kristīne Balanas also took plenty of time after her performance to let this unconventional lunch break fade away. She spoke in German, English, Latvian and Russian - obviously the sympathetic prizewinner is also a language genius. In order to keep this unique concert in special memory, she took photos with interested employees. Siemens can be proud to support young talents like her through the International ARD Music Competition.
Musical signal of understanding with kick-off concerts at the Brandenburg GateIn the course of the celebrations for the German Unification Day we had the chance to actively participate in the supporting program on the main stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate. We used this great opportunity to set a musical signal of understanding with two self-initiated concerts. On October 1, the Neue Philharmonie Berlin officially opened the three-day festivities together with soprano Ilkin Alpay, winner of the Siemens Opera Contest Turkey. On October 3, the world-famous cellist Daniel Müller-Schott opened the #1heit concert after an speech by the ruling mayor Michael Müller.
In memory of his master Mstislaw Rostropovich, Daniel Müller-Schott played excerpts from Bach's Cello Suite No. 2, the piece that Rostropovich also played at Checkpoint Charlie after the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 10, 1989. Original film footage of this historic event from November 1989 was shown parallel on stage. Müller-Schott's opening concert reminded the audience of the fall of the Berlin Wall, unity and freedom, inspiring ten thousands of spectators.
In the Siemens Pavilion, we also created a link between digitalization and classical music with our "3D Sound Project" including an avatar orchestra in an augmented reality environment.
We were able to talk behind the scenes about their concerts at the Brandenburg Gate both with the up-and-coming talent Ilkin Alpay and with the renowned cellist Daniel Müller-Schott.
The well known cellist Daniel Müller-Schott took the time before his big performance on October 3rd to talk about the joint project.
What were your first thoughts when we - the Siemens Arts Program - approached you with the idea for the opening concert in memory of the fall of the Berlin Wall?
"It is a great honor for me to be able to recall the fall of the Berlin Wall with excerpts from Bach's cello suites. I can certainly say in advance that this moment will be highly emotional for me, since my teacher Rostropovich played the same piece at Checkpoint Charlie in 1989. The feeling of knowing that the original film footage of this historic event in 1989 will be faded in live on stage is beyond words."
What does the artistic intervention in memory of Mstislav Rostropovich mean for you as a musician? How do you relate to Rostropovich - and to Berlin?
"Slava Rostropovich was my teacher for one year. A few years after he played Bach at the Berlin Wall, I was able to audition him by the recommendation of Anne-Sophie Mutter. He was also curious because he had heard about my first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians in Moscow. I profited infinitely from him. In Berlin I have played countless concerts and I love the energy, the pulse and the culture of the city. Many of my friends live there. It will be a particularly emotional moment to play Bach for Berlin, for Germany and for my late teacher".
The young soprano Ilkin Alpay won the Siemens Opera Contest Turkey in 2016. Since then she has made on the initiative of Siemens Arts Program her debut at Carnegie Hall New York in 2017 and in the same year performed at the Federal President's Buergerfest at Bellevue Palace. Her appearance at the Brandenburg Gate was another unique moment in her young career.
Directly after her concert we asked her for a short statement about her performance.
How do you feel after your performance?
"I've just sung at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin for the German Unification Day. It was a wonderful experience for me to sing in such a historic place."
Siemens Opera Contest in ParisThe Siemens Arts Program presents the second Siemens Opera Contest France and its winner, Sarah Shine, in the world-famous Opéra national de Paris.
The Siemens Arts Program initiated 2018 the second Siemens Opera Contest France.
Shine convinced the expert jury and successfully beat twelve competitors. The up-and-coming talent was born in 1993 in Ireland and graduated from the Irish Royal Academy of Music in 2015. At a festive gala at the Opéra national de Paris, she received the prize from Nicolas Petrovic, CEO Siemens France, and in the presence of Klaus Helmrich and Roland Busch, members of the Managing Board. The audience of customers, partners and politicians were impressed by the presence, passion and talent of the winner. She was presented with the award to rapturous applause.
The performance at the Palais Garnier in Paris is a very special moment for the young soprano.
The winner of the competition talks about her feelings and preparations for major performances, such as the Siemens Opera Contest France.
How do you feel, and what does this award mean to you?
"My reaction to winning the prize was total shock. Now that I've time to digest what it means, I feel pure happiness. The Siemens Opera Contest and contests like this are very important. This gives me a recognition. How I sing, how I perform and how I lead my life, I was doing something right. It gave me such confidence."
How do you prepare for major performances?
"Training your voice for concerts like in the Palais Garnier starts months before what you see on stage. It means getting the music into your body and finding how you can express it in a healthy way with the correct technique."
3D sound for the classical music of tomorrowSiemens Arts Program publishes cello works by Tchaikovsky and Gulda in 3D sound technology.
In conjunction with the Orchestra Academy of the Bavarian State Orchestra and Jakob Spahn, solo cellist at the State Orchestra, the Siemens Arts Program has recorded works by Peter Tchaikovsky and Friedrich Gulda, producing them in several “immersive sound formats”. In intensive cooperation with the Siemens Arts Program, its artistic director Stephan Frucht and the Immersive Audio Network IAN, a completely new sound experience has been born which unites the traditional cello repertoire with a technically innovative audio method.
All three spatial dimensions are represented in the immersive 3D sound. The recipient is in the middle of the acoustic space and can experience the spatial quality of the sounds three-dimensionally. The “Cello Concertos” album in 3D sound quality will be out on the hänssler Classic label as a Blu-ray and CD on 11 May. The sound recordings were taken at the group headquarters of Siemens AG and in the Bruno-Walter hall of the Bavarian State Opera. The 3D immersive production is also being presented at the Siemens Headquarters in Munich on 28 April as part of the “Long Night of Music” event.
The following works have been recorded on the new CD and Blu-ray:
- Friedrich Gulda: concert for violoncello and wind ensemble
- Peter Tchaikovsky: rococo variations for violoncello and wind quartet (arrangement: David Stromberg)
Musical signal of understanding on the German Unification Day
As part of the festivities for the German Unification Day in Berlin, Siemens Arts Program took the opportunity to set a musical signal of understanding on the main stage at the Brandenburg Gate with two self-initiated concerts.
Big stage, bright lights
The Siemens Arts Program brings together newcomers and virtuosos at Carnegie Hall: In March 27, 2018 the Bavarian State Orchestra – the orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera – accompanied the winners of the ARD Music Competition 2017, Sarah Christian (violin) and Fabian Müller (piano) at Carnegie Hall in New York. Conductor Marie Jacquot fronted the evening concert.
Siemens Opera Contest
The Siemens Opera Contest is a professional singing competition for the best young singers. In 2018, the contest celebrated its 20th anniversary at its place of origin in Istanbul/Turkey. 2017 the contest took also place in France for the first time.