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Moers Festival 2015

Henning Bolte By

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Moers Festival
Moers, Germany
May 22-25, 2015

After the great changes and new beginnings of last year's edition, this year the festival entered the phase of refinement and consolidation. The special vibe is still flourishing. The festival got an important award, the prize of the Europe Jazz Network (EJN) for Adventurous Programming. Monika Grütter, the Minister of State and German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, members of the Federal State Parliaments and the Mayor of Moers, attended the award ceremony.

EJN, the European association of producers, presenters and supporting organizations who specialize in creative music, contemporary jazz, and improvised music, awards a European promoter who exemplifies the values of EJN and skillfully succeeds to create visionary and fascinating musical programs for the audience. The moers festival, one of the oldest and most original jazz festivals in Europe was unanimously chosen by an independent jury of jazz professionals and EJN members for the festival's commitment to always innovate and experiment while remaining faithful to its identity. Previous winners of the EJN Award for Adventurous Programming have been: Lisbon's Jazz em Agosto (2014), Amsterdam's Bimhuis (2013), and Dublin's 12 Points Festival (2012).

The Moers area

Moers is a small city of about 100,000 inhabitants at the periphery of the former mining and industrial Ruhrpott area in Germany, about 40 km from the Dutch border and near the cities of Duisburg and Düsseldorf. The Festival, a four-day annual event always taking place on Pentecost, is a special festival with a rich history and firm traditions. Originally named Moers International New Jazz Festival, it grew into a remarkable cultural enterprise through which the city has become world-famous among musicians, music aficionados, festival directors and cultural entrepreneurs. On the festival website, the festival blog and 'Behind The Scene' are some particularly interesting sections.

The moers festival

The well-known festival, founded in 1971 and reshaped in 2005, now lacks the word 'jazz' in its name. In three decennia the name 'Moers' grew into a synonym for cutting edge music of a broader interest and acclaim so that its name could be reshaped into the neologism 'moers festival' (with lower-case letters). It freed from the programming-compromises of customary classical 'jazz' festivals and constituted corresponding expectations of its visitors and audiences. Indicated positively moers festival presents every kind of challenging, cutting-edge and vital music crossing or leaving behind all kind of mental boundaries. Every year anew it obliges to operate along a consequent line setting the right new vigorous and pugnacious accents. It does not aim at allaying people but makes them focus on fractious, unruly, astounding, amazing, elevating, uplifting and deeper cathartic experiences. This can be accomplished by a variety of musical means and means of performance. Contrast and controversy is one of the main pillars of moers. Through contrast the audience gets chances to rebalance, calm down or lift up, identify, reconsider etc. moers festival triggers stark, heavy contrasts all through in a productive way. Also moers festival presents 'only' one stream of concerts. You simply have to decide when to join in and when to opt out—no escape to other acts or chasing after names.

Again this year's realization was a highly concentrated affair of full force, full drive, full swing, full voice, full sound and full person. During one night and three days moers festival presented 19 concerts plus three night shows (RocketNumberNine, Born in Flamez and Dean Blunt), three morning sessions at the local music school and three night concerts at the small venue Die Röhre (Röhrereihe) with two German Bands (Zodiak Trio, Roman Babik Urban Wedding Band) and French-British band In Bed With.

All in all nine large ensembles performed and on the whole thirteen vocalists were involved. The contributing musicians and groups came from ten countries: Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, France, Mali, New Zealand, US and Canada. (Röhrereihe). All in all nine large ensembles performed and on the whole thirteen vocalists were involved. Colin Stetson acted as an artists in residence and performed in all kind of formats/line-ups from solo to duo, trio and 12tet. He brought in a series of musicians of his choice. A larger collection of the concerts are documented on on the German-French TV channel ARTE TV and will be accessible HERE until November 23 of this year.

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