Festival Archive | Conference Reports
14th Fasch Festival 2017
The 14th International Fasch Festival took place from 20-23 April 2017 and focused on Martin Luther who had already preached in 1522 in Zerbst, the largest town in the Anhalt region during the Reformation. Since in 1644 Anhalt-Zerbst was the only principality in Anhalt that adopted the Lutheran faith, artists, ensembles, and scholars had every reason to adopt the festival motto "From Luther to Fasch" both musically and academically.
The opening concert on 20 April was performed by the Main-Barockorchester Frankfurt directed by Martin Jopp (see picture) and was broadcast live by the Central German Radio (MDR) to listeners around the globe. "Luther, Fasch, and Frau Musica" was the title of the evening’s concert, featuring works by the Zerbst Kapellmeister and selected texts by Luther read by actor Raphael Kübler in between. The official opening of the festival (held prior to the concert held in the Katharina-Saal of the Zerbst Stadthalle) included the Fasch Prize Award Ceremony. In 2017 the town of Zerbst bestowed it upon the musicologist Prof. em. Dr. Manfred Fechner (Jena), who had discovered his love for Fasch already during GDR times. The entertaining laudatory speech was given by Dr. Konstanze Musketa, former president and honorary member of the International Fasch Society. She emphasized that Prof. Fechner had worked closely with two other Fasch Prize recipients, Ludwig Güttler (1999), and especially Ludger Rémy (2015), who passed away on 21 June 2017 at the age of 68.
The quality of the instrumental and choral concerts as well as the worship service, held on the occasion of the 2017 Fasch Festival in historical performance venues in Zerbst, was once again impressive, not least because of several modern premieres of works by Fasch. Three festival events were also broadcast and/or recorded by national radio stations (MDR and Deutschlandfunk). In addition to the fabulous Italian ensemble Zefiro (performing in the Fasch-Saal), festival visitors could enjoy renowned German artists such as Dorothee Oberlinger and Friends (Rathaussaal), Die Rheinische Kantorei and Das Kleine Konzert directed by Hermann Max (St. Trinitatis Church), the all-female vocal quartet Niniwe vocal arts (Zerbst palace), the Zerbster Kantorei and the Ensemble Märkisch Barock (St. Bartholomäi Church), and the Münchner Barocksolisten. They performed the closing concert in the auditorium (Aula) of the local secondary school, the Gymnasium Francisceum, which had been newly identified as a location in which works by Fasch had been performed during his tenure as Kapellmeister.
The two-day international scholarly conference that was held concurrently focused on “Fasch and the confessional landscape of his day”. Thirteen scholars had travelled to Zerbst, nine from within Germany, and two each from Canada and Great Britain. A conference report that will include all papers read as well as abstracts in both German and English, will be published as part of the “Fasch-Studien” series by Ortus.
There were also several extra-curricular festival events of note. Zerbst school pupils once again attended a funny theatre performance prior to the beginning of the festival to learn about the life and works of the Zerbst Kapellmeister; it featured music by Fasch as well as a dance performance in historical costumes. On 22 April the Russian sculptor Yaroslav Borodin impressed visitors of the Zerbst palace by sculpting a bust of Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch’s head in front of their eyes; the son of the Zerbst Kapellmeister was born in 1736 in Zerbst and made his mark in music history as the founder of Sing-Akademie zu Berlin. That day the German Lutherweg (lit. "Luther's path") Society also held their seventh annual meeting in Zerbst.
13th Fasch Festival 2015
On the 327th Birthday of Johann Friedrich Fasch the audience was greeted by Stefan Dorgerloh, Minister of Culture, State of Saxony-Anhalt and patron of the Festival, Andreas Dittmann, Mayor of the town of Zerbst/Anhalt and Bert Siegmund, President of the IFS.
The 2015 Fasch Prize recipient was Prof. Ludger Rémy. The well-known harpsichordist and director of the “Les Amis de Philippe” ensemble had last performed in Zerbst in 2013, on the occasion of the Twelfth International Fasch Festival.
Feeling very honoured (to this day!), Prof. Rémy expressed his gratitude, also to Prof. em. Manfred Fechner (Jena) for his wonderful laudatory speech.
“Bachs Erben–Jugendbarockorchester Michaelstein” then performed orchestral works by Fasch and his contemporaries at the opening concert of the Festival. It was obvious to everyone in the audience how enthusiastic the young musicians were about the compositions of “our” court Kapellmeister. Seventy years ago, on 16 April 1945, most of the town of Zerbst was destroyed during World War Two. A special concert was included in the Festival Programme to commemorate this sad event. The concert featured the world premiere of Fasch’s St. John Passion. This large-scale work belongs to the “Zerbster Musikstube” collection which had been taken out of the bombed Zerbst palace at the end of the war. It is now held at the Landesarchiv Saxony-Anhalt in Dessau. Dr. Gottfried Gille (2013 Fasch Prize recipient) had edited the work. The “Johann Friedrich Reichardt” Chorus of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Handel Festival Orchestra Halle, conducted by University Music Director Jens Lorenz, performed the work at Zerbst`s St. Trinitatis Church. The commemorative concert was broadcast live by the Central German Radiostation, MDR FIGARO. Mayor Andreas Dittmann and Reverend Pastor Thomas Meyer each offered their thoughts on the people who had lost their lives during the senseless destruction of the town of Zerbst.
Like in previous festival years, a special youth event was included. On the morning of 16 April representatives of the International Fasch Society introduced children to the life and works of Johann Friedrich Fasch at the Zerbst Stadthalle. Children attending local primary and secondary schools had been invited to watch and participate. They performed a play as well as music and dancing to emphasize that Fasch’s compositions are anything but old and dusty. The dance group “O' Blue” as well as students from the local “Johann Friedrich Fasch” music school helped make this event unforgettable (see photo/all private).
On the morning of 17 April the International Scholarly Conference began, with experts from all over the world presenting papers. The focal point was the Court of Anhalt-Zerbst, specifically whether it was justified to call it a “Court of Muses” during Fasch’s tenure. The term refers to courts whose rulers chose to surround themselves with many renowned artists; during the Baroque era especially a court’s wide-ranging artistic orientation was considered the core element of demonstrating wealth and power. The scholarly findings were exceedingly interesting and diverse in nature. They will be published in the next volume in our Fasch Studies series.
12th Fasch Festival 2013
The International Fasch Festival is an integral part of the cultural development plan of the city of Zerbst/Anhalt and as such has an impact on the county of Anhalt-Bitterfeld and neighbouring regions. The Festival continues to explore various themes and has steadily increased in attractiveness; it represents a highlight amongst music festivals devoted to Central German composers of the Baroque period. As a result, music lovers and tourists from Germany and beyond visit Zerbst. At the core of the concerts and the international scholarly conference of the Twelfth International Fasch Festival in 2013 were court Kapellmeister Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688–1758) and his relations with the electoral court of Dresden and its Kapelle.
For the programme of the Twelfth International Fasch Festival in April 2013, click here.
The Festival’s basic concept – ensuring that the concerts, conference presentations and local programming are consistent with the overall thematic focus of the Festival – was successfully realized in April. Renowned German and Austrian ensembles came to perform Baroque music in Zerbst, including "Les Amis de Philippe" and "NeoBarock" as well as the "Johann Friedrich Reichardt" University Chorus Halle/Saale and "Ars Antiqua Austria". Prof. Dr. Manfred Fechner (Jena) edited several works by Fasch that are extant at the Saxon National, State and University Library (SLUB) Dresden and particularly managed to delight the audience. Fasch’s close contacts with Dresden were also reflected in the world-famous "Dresdner Kreuzchor" presenting a concert, which was one of the highpoints of the Festival. Regional ensembles had also been included in the programming, specifically the "Zerbst Kantorei". During a live broadcast of a church service, the choir premiered a cantata by court Kapellmeister Fasch that is extant in Berlin; it was edited by IFS president Bert Siegmund.
The 2013 Fasch Prize was awarded to Dr. Gottfried Gille, Bad Langensalza, Congratulations.
Musicologists from Canada, Great Britain, the USA and Germany (see picture) presented new research insights at the scholarly conference. The latter also focused on Fasch’s connections with the Dresden court. The papers will be published in volume 12 of Fasch-Studien with ortus musikverlag.
Local performing venues included Zerbst’s baroque city hall (formerly the princely riding hall), Holy Trinity Church, St. Bartholomäi Church, and the Great Hall of the Francisceum Secondary School. Concerts were also presented at the Wendgräben and Leitzkau palaces as well as in Burgkemnitz’s baroque church. Clearly, the Fasch Festival’s impact extends well beyond city borders.
This year’s Fasch Festival once again included special programming for primary and secondary school pupils in Zerbst. "Fasch for kids" featured children, specifically students of local Zerbst music schools, performing for their peers. In addition, members of the youth baroque orchestra "Bach’s Erben" as well as "O’Blue", a dance group for kids, performed. The overall goal was to introduce music by Fasch to children and deepen their knowledge of his life and works.
To ensure maximum audience exposure, several Fasch Festival concerts were recorded and broadcast live by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (Central German Radio), and numerous articles were published in daily newspapers and music journals. The significance of the unveiling of the J. F. Fasch memorial stone on the Neue Brücke Street in Zerbst cannot be underestimated (see p. 4). The supporting programme also featured events that were consistent with the overall focus of the Festival, including a guided tour of the city, a visit to the local museum, a Fasch exhibit at St. Trinitatis Church, a special "Fasch menu" featuring regional dishes, etc. Overall, this baroque music festival made a lasting impression, with over 2000 visitors attesting to its increasing reputation and attractiveness.
The financial support provided by the State of Sachsen-Anhalt, the City of Zerbst/Anhalt, the County of Anhalt-Bitterfeld, the Sparkasse Foundation, the Mitteldeutsche Barockmusik Foundation, and other sponsors made this Festival both a well-balanced and inspirational musical event.
We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who helped to make it a success.
11th Fasch Festival 2011
"Fasch - Father and Son" - The Eleventh International Fasch Festival took place in Zerbst/Anhalt, Germany, from 7-17 April 2011.
In 2011, we not only celebrated the accomplishments of Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758), Kapellmeister of Anhalt-Zerbst, but also commemorated the 275th birthday of Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch (1736-1800), who was born in Zerbst and founded the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin.
For the programme of the Eleventh International Fasch Festival in April 2011, click here.
The 2011 Fasch Prize was awarded during the opening concert on 7 April 2011 to Hans-Heinrich Kriegel, Bochum, for promoting Fasch for the past 20 years as the director of the Fasch-Collegium Bochum and his activities as an editor of works by J. F. Fasch.
To listen to the live broadcast of the Opening Concert of the Fasch Festival on 7 April 2011, courtesy MDR Figaro and featuring the Main-Barockorchester Frankfurt, click on this link: www.mdr.de
To read about the adventures of "Tempesta di Mare" Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra in Zerbst - they performed a fantastic concert on 10 April 2011 in the Katharina-Saal at the Stadthalle Zerbst - visit their website, www.tempestadimare.org or click here.
The most recent issue of our annual newsletter, Faschiana, appeared in Summer 2020. We hope you enjoy it!