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Moers Festival: Moers, Germany, May 17-20, 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Moers Festival 2013
Moers, Germany
May 17-19, 2013
The internationally renowned Moers Festival again arrived at a turning point, with its 42nd edition. It was the last edition with the famous blue marquee in the vast Castle-park of the city of Moers. Next year, the festival will continue in a reconstructed solid hall, an old covered tennis court, situated nearby.

Chapter Index

Origins, Originality

Transformations

Morning, Day and Night

Three Days on the Main Stage

Day 1: Friday: Zorn Troop—Music from Different Spheres in One Spirit

Day 2: Saturday Diversity

Day 3: Sunday

Origins, Originality

The Moers Festival, with its experimental spirit originating from the seventies and lots of glorious highlights during its turbulent history, takes place every year during the weekend of Whit Sunday in the old town of Moers. Moers is a small city of about 100,000 inhabitants at the periphery of the former mining and industrial Ruhrpott area, about 40 km from the Dutch border and near the cities of Duisburg and Düsseldorf. Originally named International New Jazz Festival, Moers (the festival) grew into a remarkable cultural enterprise through which the city has become world- famous among musicians, music aficionados, festival directors and cultural entrepreneurs. Moers is the only city which, since 2008, annually hosts an improvising musician, who lives and works in the city for an entire year. The festival is embedded in his/her activities and vice versa. This year's improviser in residence was vocalist Michael Schiefel, preceded by saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, bassist Achim Tang, trumpeter Sanne van Hek, pianist Simon Rummel and saxophonist Angelika Niescier.

Transformations

With its outstanding artistic profile, it is typically a director-dependent and led festival. The era of founder Burkhard Hennen, a legendary local, came to an end after 34 years. Reiner Michalke, an experienced and successful organizer of the Cologne music scene— especially the internationally renowned Stadtgarten venue—took over in 2005.

In times of heavy shortages and cuts in—amongst others—the arts, the old festival will certainly undergo changes and transformations. It will move to a new hall with almost the same capacity but better facilities. There will be financing with a ten-year commitment to the new setup as a whole, from the city as well as the state. It is a challenge to pick up creatively, organizationally and practically.

It appears that there is a fertile soil concerning audiences. As the festival communiqué inidicated, the festival tent which holds 2,500 visitors, "was completely sold out, both on "Zorntag" and Whit Sunday. More advance tickets were sold than ever before, with sales of festival tickets up 30% over 2011, our previous best year. All in all, almost 15,000 visitors—many who had come from abroad—piled into the festival tent, the Röhre and the festival's other venues to enjoy a long weekend of contemporary music." And there are documentary traces available in the media for reliving. "Several thousand viewers followed festival online, too, via the live stream on the Moers Festival website and ARTE Live Web, which was produced by students at Cologne's Academy of Media Arts. A 'catch-up' stream, featuring almost all the festival concerts, will remain on ARTE Live Web for the next sixth months. The TV broadcaster WDR produced a 45-minute documentary on the festival, and WDR radio reported live from Moers on both Friday and Saturday. More radio programs about the festival are due to be aired this summer and autumn. Numerous ARD and European Broadcast Union channels will also be broadcasting live recordings of festival concerts in the coming weeks and months."

Morning, Day and Night

The festival presented three concerts at the main place, the marquee, in the afternoon, plus four concerts in the evening. There were also morning sessions and night concerts at the legendary Die Röhre (The Tube) club. The morning sessions were borne out of the original improvisational spirit of the festival. Artists who performed in the main program encountered artists invited to Moers especially for the morning sessions. The combination of musicians was decided shortly before the concert. The sessions were curated by Angelika Niescier, saxophonist and the festival's first Improviser in Residence (2008).

The three nighttime concerts at Die Röhre were an all-Polish affair. Piotr Damasiewicz, trumpeter and leader of "Power Of The Horns," put together three smaller ensembles from this collective: Pjotr Damasiewicz Quartet, with alto saxophonist (Maciej Obara, pianist Domink Wania, bassist Jakub Mielcarek and drummer Wojciech Romanowski; the Art Escape Quintet, with, in addition to Damasiewicz, alto saxophonist Adam Pindur, trombonist Pawel Niewiadomski, bassist Max Mucha, and drummer Dawid Fortuna; and the Power For Unit 4, with tenor saxophonist Marek Pospieszalski (also incorporating electronics), Damasiewicz (also employing acoustic objects), bassist Max Mucha and drummer Oba Janicki (using both electronics and acoustic objects. Damasiewiecz has also taken part in this year's Take Five Europe program.

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