Irish ‘Last Rose of Summer’ Festival Blooms
Irish and European Classic and Contemporary Chamber Music Melts Cultures TogetherSeptember 20th, 2016
The second edition of a chamber music festival, The Last Rose of Summer, organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Ireland under the direction of the France-based Russian pianist Vladimir Stoupel and the Mendelssohn Society, has united musicians from across Europe and North America, bringing cultures, styles and epochs together.
Over five days between the 28th of August and the 2nd of September, this series of lunchtime concerts delighted audiences with the talent of young musicians from Europe’s island states, Ireland and Iceland, as well as the cultural island of Berlin itself and other European and North American states. The musical repertoire combined romantic classical and contemporary compositions, enriching the festival’s cultural and stylistic variety.
The festival featured works by contemporary Irish composers like Philip Hammond and young Garrett Sholdice, whose works were performed by Northern Irish pianist Michael McHale. The Irish cultural scene was also represented by Germany-based mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty, accompanied by American pianist Jonathan Ware, who performed the song cycle ‘Over the Rim of the Moon’ by British composer Michael Head.
The festival’s backdrop was the cosy atmosphere of the Mendelssohn Remise Hall, in the heart of Berlin. In the past, this historical hall was often visited by eminent German romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, whose works made up the core of the festival’s classical section.
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy is renowned for setting music to the poem ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ by Irish poet Thomas Moore, after which the festival is named. As a passionate traveller to the British Isles and a lover of British culture, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy himself also represents an early cultural link between Germany and Ireland.
As well as works by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, among the romantic musical repertoire were works by famous German composers Fanny Hensel and Ludwig van Beethoven. Lesser-known and newer works were also presented, keeping with the festival director’s innovative and creative focus.
Examples of this innovation were both the unusual operetta ‘Die Entsprungen Insel’ by local Berlin contemporary composer Eduard Erdmann, as well as contemporary works by Polish-American composer Robert Muczynski and Icelandic composer Hjállmar Ragnarsson.
The contrasting nature of the program provided a more complete and enlightening cultural experience, enhanced by the direct contact between musicians and the audience that the intimate venue allowed.
This musical rendezvous between musicians from all over Europe and North America has paved the way to a bright future for this small festival, while also strengthening ties between Ireland and Berlin.