2016/2017 season of organ concerts

Michael Schönheit will both commence and end the 2016/2017 season of organ concerts under his curatorship with participation in Leipzig's two major music festivals: the season opens with a recital at the Mendelssohn Festival and culminates with the concert entitled The Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach at the Bachfest.

Michael Schönheit's 31st season as Gewandhaus Organist features two festivals of its own. The Autumn Festival (29-31 October 2016) is dedicated to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach: Bach - Harmony, Melody, Polyphony. Michael Schönheit and esteemed guests from Denmark and the Netherlands perform music by which the celebrated Thomaskantor was influenced, as well as music from Italy and France, itself clearly influenced by the works of Bach.

The Whitsun Organ Festival (3-5 June 2017) comprises six exceedingly varied programmes under the motto L´art de transcription – Masterpieces in the Hands of Masters. The highlight of the festival is the Organ Night, which forms a part of Leipzig's annual international Wave Gothic Festival (WGT) on 4 June. Totentanz (Dance of Death) is the theme of the three-part Organ Night, comprising both romantic and contemporary organ works and featuring the improvised organ accompaniment to the silent film Faust, directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1926). The actor and broadcaster Axel Thielmann will present the Organ Night, having recited the text of Petr Eben's Faust for organ the previous evening. Eben's captivatingly graphic music promises to be a quite enthralling experience, not only for WGT festival guests!

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A rather more introspective ambience within the Whitsun Organ Festival will certainly be on offer in the Coffee and gossip in the Gewandhaus concert, featuring Michael Schönheit at the harpsichord, a small baroque instrumental ensemble and, of course, coffee and cake! The organ and its beguiling repertoire can also be enjoyed in particularly relaxed lounge atmosphere at the After Work Concert.

This organ season also includes a series of four concerts taking place in the morning and afternoon. For a concert with a particularly literary note we welcome the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Der Spiegel, Sebastian Knauer, who will read from his musical whodunnit Tödliche Kantaten (Deadly Cantatas). Another concert features a stunning arrangement of Gustav Holst's The Planets.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of former Gewandhauskapellmeister Niels Wilhelm Gade will be celebrated with an Organ Hour performed by Michael Schönheit in his honour.

Michael Schönheit will also make a musical contribution to the Evangelical Church Conference, to be held in Leipzig, in the form of a specially conceived organ recital.

The Family Concert is certain to be of great entertainment value, centred around Michael Schönheit's interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The vast array of sound colours afforded by the Gewandhaus organ will bring this (quite literally) extraordinarily graphic storyline to life, live for the whole audience to hear and see. This concert - ideal for the whole family - will be presented by children's TV star Malte Arkona.