There are two premieres on the programme of the third concert the scholars of the Karajan Academy will play in the 2019-20 season. The evening will start off with a new composition by the young South Korean composer Donghoon Shin. Born in Seoul in 1983, he was the singer and keyboardist in a rock band while at school before starting to study composition at the state university of his home city, later continuing at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Now living in England, he is currently expanding his studies with George Benjamin at King’s College. Shin’s compositions, which oscillate among the most varied of stylistic levels and are richly coloured and evocative, have not only been honoured with numerous prizes but have already been performed by well-known orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orquesta Nacional de España and the Ensemble intercontemporain.
Besides the South Korean composer Unsuk Chin, Shin’s artistic mentors also include a man who has been a musical partner and friend of the Berliner Philharmoniker for many years: the Hungarian composer and conductor Peter Eötvös, who premiered Shin’s orchestral composition Pop-up in Seoul in 2012, among other works. Commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Karajan Academy, Eötvös has composed a new work for double bass and strings for this concert which he is musically directing; the Philharmonic’s first principal bass Matthew McDonald will play the solo part.
The second half of the programme is centered completely on music by Igor Stravinsky: the composer, who was then living in Paris, composed his nearly ten-minute Symphonies of Wind Instruments to commemorate Claude Debussy, who had died two years earlier. Despite its title, the work deliberately dispenses with classical forms and movement. The fact that he revised the work 27 years later, had, as so often the case for Stravinsky, financial reasons: he obtained American copyrights to the composition by re-orchestrating it after emigrating to the US.
The evening will conclude with a suite from Stravinsky’s ballet music Pulcinella, launched in Paris in 1920. It is based on melodies from the 18th century and constitutes the beginning of the composer’s neo-classical creative phase. In later years Stravinsky recalled: “Pulcinella was my discovery of the past […] It was a backward glance, of course – the first of many love affairs in that direction – but it was a look in the mirror, too.”