Armin Schram, 1929 – 2015

My uncle, Armin Schram, was born in 1929 in Prague at a time when Germans and Jews were still united in language and shared a common home. The insanity of the events in the following years caused deep wounds in our family, and therefore in him. I can still feel the impact of these wounds in our lives today.
Armin met his fate. Only 24 years old he made his doctorate in chemistry in Vienna and was part of the reconstruction. His work changed people, corporations, politics and finally science. He became one of the most successful managers in Germany and always stayed, especially in his heart, a straight, honest person in search of the truth in humanity.
He also was a passionate sailor and hunter and appreciated the company of people who shared his passion. You would always feel how close he was to the water or the forest – in nature. Whenever sailors or hunters speak of him, you can hear their recognition and the respect they feel for him.
All of this made him my role model. Standing next to him I felt that one day I would be like him and I liked that idea. I was, and am, proud of my uncle. Now I am the last to carry his name.
Together with my mother we now have to say goodbye now from this earthly mantle and carry him in our hearts.
‘What dazzles, for the moment spends its spirit: what is genuine, shall posterity inherit.’ (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

In Memoriam Günther Passin

Requiem aeternam dona ei.

Mozart’s Requiem, November 9, 2014 at the Pfarrkirche St. Gilgen

How people deal with the death of a loved one becomes a reflection on their life and work.
In the case of the oboist Prof. Günther Passin, deceased in spring of this year, this is reflected in the best interactions of his mourners, and the mourning is led by love and friendship, a deep connection to his attitudes, and by his spirit and work.

Günther exhibited a special kind of spirituality combined with a down to earth outlook on life as a musician of high standing. This is why I am much honored to be a part of the circle performing Mozart’s requiem in his memoriam at his last home in St. Gilgen.

‘Quid sum miser tunc dicturus – What will I say?’ asks the soprano in the Dies irae facing the Last Judgment. He suspects he will not have the chance to ask the question in the crucial moments at the end. A look back at his life leaves him only with the hope to have led a good and happy life. The look forward leaves him only with the braveness to surrender to something of more greatness.

Pie Jesu Domine dona eis requiem, dona nobis pacem. Pious Lord Jesus, give them rest, give us peace.

Mozarts Missa pro defunctis KV 626
November 9, 2014
At the Pfarrkirche St. Gilgen/Wolfgansee.

Start 20:00
Chamber Orchestra M. A. Mozart St. Gilgen,
Choir and Soloists
Conducting: Max Pommer

About the Superhuman.

Preparing for my next part, I catch myself trying to bring Carl Maria von Weber’s ‘Der Freischütz’ to a human, more comprehensive level. I am searching for explanations in the ghastly and diabolical visions that come from the drugs that are given to Max by Kaspar. I also envision that Agathe’s ideal love is a result of naivety, and that Max’s devotion to his fate is a result of fear and being overburdened. Continue reading

The Swan on the Spit

About Carmina Burana, New Year’s 2014, great Festspielhaus, Salzburg

“You spend half of your life waiting for nothing.” This saying of one of my colleagues at the Tyrol Festival in Erl, 2012, has stayed with me every time I think of Carmina Burana.

In operas, as in concerts, some tenor parts are an enormous challenge because of their shortness. One example is the ‘singer’ in Strauss’ ‘Rosenkavalier’; another is Carmina Burana’s ‘swan’. To begin with, you sit on the stage for an hour and a half listening to your busy soloist colleagues, the soprano and the baritone. Continue reading

“MeTube” wins Epic German Web Video Award 2013!

This Monday morning I am entering the dentist’s office with a huge smile – this was indeed a great weekend!

My impressions of the German web video award ceremony are still with me, along with a big smile and a lot of confidence.

Since the rise of social media there has been a new cultural development that is remarkable. The German Web Video Awards 2013, given out by the  European Web Video Academy, is the most considerable show case for this new culture. The variety of topics, the depths of social significance and the quality of the nominated works astonished me several times during the award ceremony in the Capitol Theatre in Düsseldorf. For me the most impressive examples are the video “Nur neun Jahre Glück”, by the Hochschule HS-OWL, and the organisation for their narration of the true story of an abused boy.

And then there was the award for the ultimate ‘Epic’ category for the best video on the net in 2013. Winning for MeTube  seemed impossible while listening to the list of nominees. As mine and Daniel Moshel’s names were announced all my prepared comments were forgotten. What did I actually say? I have to watch it on the net – I do not remember. I don’t even remember the details of the following award party on the banks of the Rhine with the Japanese fireworks, and all the fabulous conversations, and the dancing and the alcohol…

I am lying happily in the dentist’s chair and thinking of the great time I had in Düsseldorf. See you next year.

What remains is for me to thank everybody involved. Thanks to the director Daniel Moshel, Stephanie Winter, with whom the next project is already in progress, to Martin “Martini” Bauer for the camerawork, to Jörg Mohr, to Bernhard “Draxtor” Drax for the musical arrangement, to Phillip Preuss for the Remix, to Jan René Lai for the second Remix, to Sammy Zayed for the styling,  to Roland Pfannhauser for the production management, to the great Elfi Wunsch for her performance as the mother and her legendary comment “Ulrich, du bist ein Schwein!” (Ulrich, you are a pig!), to Jakob Krisper and the KK-Strings for suffering in latex suits and to all the other participants of this fine work.

Video Release ‘MeTube’

„Carmen“ by George Bizet

What is the fastest growing medium in classical music?
As with other genres, videos now play a main role in classical music. Most concert goers will search the net for videos of the performer they are about to see and get an idea of what they can expect.
The results they find, for the most part, are live recordings of varying quality. The true possibilities of the video as a medium in telling a story in manifold and powerful ways are barely even recognized or utilized.
Continue reading

Platée at the Neukölln Opera, Berlin

In a society drifting apart, it is not hard to imagine that the gods have become self centered, conniving, and use their powers to satisfy their own longings rather than feeling obliged to serve the whole and make the world a better place.

You could meet them as people in bars or trendy clubs, intoxicated, and in the middle of sexual excesses in the back rooms of modern luxury hiding places.

And you can meet them in a new production of ‘Platée’, by Jean-Philippe Rameau, at the Neukölln in Berlin. Continue reading

Der Durchzug durchs Rote Meer

Zurich’s First Showing of “Der Durchzug durchs Rote Meer”
by Johann Nepomuk Hummer

Neumünsterkirche Zürich/Schweiz

Johann Nepomuk Hummel. You might only barely be aware of this musician and composer, perhaps because he is not counted as part of the ‘First Viennese School’ despite the fact that he worked during this period, was supported by Mozart and Salieri, and was the successor of Haydn at the Esterházy court. Undeservingly, his clerical works never circulate in concert halls and churches as often as the masses of Mozart or the oratorios of Haydn. Walter Riethmann, of the Cantus Zürich, has adopted a recent ‘excavation’: the only Hummel oratorio, entitled ‘Durchzug durchs Rote Meer’ (The Passage Through the Red Sea), which was written between 1800 and 1810. This piece was never performed during Hummel’s lifetime and lay undiscovered for 100 years, hidden away in the British Library in London until Hermmann Max discovered it in 2007, and later performed it with the Rheinische Kantorei.

Continue reading