Come to Us to be Surprised: DYNAMIKfest in Salzburg
An Interview with Clarissa Bevilacqua

When we last spoke with violinist Clarissa Bevilacqua, she mentioned the new music festival she was planning for Salzburg, Austria. After a year of work, it has come to reality, and on 9 October 2023, DYNAMIKfest Kammermusik Salzburg will have its debut.

Violinist Clarissa Bevilacqua

Clarissa Bevilacqua

In our initial interview, Ms. Bevilacqua spoke of her love of Salzburg, her studies there, and how she sought to bring what she was finding in new music to the Salzburg audience. For her, the audience was a real factor, ‘There’s nothing like the silence in a room when performing in Salzburg,’ she declared. They really listen and have a deep understanding of music that goes beyond what she’s experienced elsewhere.

DYNAMIKfest banner


DYNAMIKfest will have 4 concerts and one masterclass with the composer-in-residence. Ms Bevilacqua shows her knowledge and influence in her programming by including works she finds exceptional, but which are largely undiscovered. One of these opens the first concert: Guillaume Lekeu’s piano quartet. Lekeu (1870–1894), who died when only 23, only completed one movement of his string quartet, but it’s something that Ms. Bevilacqua thinks is so important that she’s opening her entire festival with it. The rest of that concert exploits the possibilities of chamber music. The next work is by Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud (b. 1974) and a work for piano solo, Bewegungen, written in 1996.

Johannes Maria Staud: Bewegungen (Marino Formenti, piano)

This is followed by something from a hometown boy, W.A. Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola, K. 423, and Janáček’s Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for cello and piano, JW VII/5.

Leoš Janáček: Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for Cello and Piano, JW VII/5 – III. Allegro (Mikael Ericsson, cello; František Malý, piano)

Then it’s the world premiere of a newly commissioned piano quartet by Giorgio Musolesi. Ms. Bevilacqua says the composer was inspired by the climate change emergency and that the whole piece is aimed at raising awareness and promoting the conversation on sustainability.

With her consideration of the audience, and her goal of finding Salzburg’s audience for new music, after this opening concert of chamber music, the piano quartet concert the next day repeats the two works audiences would never have heard before, the Lekeu string quartet movement and the Musolesi piano quartet. To this is added Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat major, op. 47.

Robert Schumann: Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47 – IV. Finale: Vivace (Young Uck Kim, violin; Heiichiro Ohyama, viola; Gary Hoffman, cello; André Previn, piano)

The 11-member New Breath Ensemble places its focus on new music, with a program of world premieres of music by the composition students at the Mozarteum University and will give the EU premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ Terpsichore’s Box of Dreams.

Augusta Read Thomas

Augusta Read Thomas © Anthony Barlich

Next, the festival focuses attention on the composer-in-residence, American composer Augusta Read Thomas. Ms. Bevilacqua has worked with Ms. Read Thomas extensively and released a recording of her complete works for solo violin (Nimbus N18109) in January 2023. The festival’s Thursday is a masterclass, held at Mozarteum University with Ms. Read Thomas and the composition students and festival performers. Ms. Bevilacqua feels that students will be exposed to new ideas on composition, now from an American perspective, and this can only be good. The composer Johannes Maria Staud will also be present with his ideas on composition and the discussions should be wide-ranging!

The festival closes with the New Breath Ensemble and a concert of chamber music, including music with voice, from Pierre Boulez, Macedonian composer Pande Shahov, and 5 Austrian premieres of works by Augusta Read Thomas.

It’s an ambitious program and we asked Ms. Bevilacqua how the process had gone. She said that it had taken more work than she anticipated, and she was now much more sympathetic to festival organizers! One of the driving forces for the program was the feeling by the composition students that, although Salzburg was an amazing music city, there wasn’t really a place for them on the Classical and Romantic performance stages of the city. By combining young performers and new composers into one festival, and matching it with an attentive audience, Ms. Bevilacqua wanted to create that space for new music and new musicians. By bringing in a composer-in-residence, she was also creating the opportunity for students and players to interact with someone with experience to help them grow and think in a new way about what they’d been learning.

For performers to meet the composers who created the music for them is an immense learning experience. Performers come away with a deeper understanding of both the music and the impetus behind the music. We no longer have Mozart around to ask questions of, but we do have Augusta Read Thomas or any of the Mozarteum student composers.

We asked Ms. Bevilacqua if she were playing at her festival and she said not for this first edition, however, she will have her violin at the ready if needed and will always be available for after-hour sessions.

Come to Salzburg to be wowed—Come to DYNAMIKfest to be surprised. – Clarissa Bevilacqua

The DYNAMIKfest Kammermusik Salzburg, First Edition, will be held from 9 to 14 October 2023.

For more of the best in classical music, sign up for our E-Newsletter

More Reviews

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.