Reliving the halcyon days of progressive house music. It’s rather difficult to push the boundaries…
Photo Credit: Stephan Rabold
Strom Festival aims to bring electronic music to the classical music space. It facilitates the exchange, on one side between the club culture and the emblematic Berliner Philharmonic, and on the other side, ‘tween leading local and international audiovisual artists. An initiative very well-received by all the communities involved, which generates huge expectations in Germany and globally. In a scene that is slowly gaining recognition within the field of culture, this festival offers a platform to accelerate its evolution.
Electronic music reaches the scopes of excellence under Berliner Philharmonie, the home of the Berliner Philharmoniker, one of the best orchestras around the world. Inaugurated by the prestigious Herbert von Karajan, the architectural masterpiece has become one of the most emblematic buildings in Berlin and a model for many other auditoriums all over. Both scenes -electronic and classical- shape the image of the German capital. Strom Festival built a bridge between the two lighthouses and brings guiding stars to Scharoun’s organic and futuristic aesthetic architecture. ‘The Circus of Karajan‘, as Berliners baptized the room honouring one of its legendary conductors, moves away from classical music for the first time dialling it up to electronic on decks.
Some Background Details
Anyone who nowadays has global culture buildings in mind can hardly imagine what problems Hans Scharoun had to face with his precursor deconstructivistic design in the mid-1950s. From that time to date, the Berliner Philharmonie had not opened its doors to the genre of recombination par excellence. Electronic music for the first time in its history climbs up its podium, and apparently, since Andrea Zietzschmann has been the artistic director of the Orchestra, the legendary concert hall has deliberated and committed to open up to unusual contexts. Creativity cross-genres was the “dress code” for all the artists who kept the house awake for two nights, from 8 to 3 am on vigil.
Responsible for this festival and many long series of formal innovations in techno, as well as other experimental works for acoustic ensembles, cinema, and musical theatre, Stefan Goldmann again faces a colossal project. Berliner Philharmonie dresses up with electronic grooves. As unconventional as a connoisseur of the digital industry, the electronic scene, and European concert music, techno intellectual Goldmann can explore with sounds gracefully even in his first performance at the Berlin Philharmonic. As for him, techno has always been about the future and discovery, his criterion as curator when selecting the line-ups is also guided by these concepts: all artists must have extended the limits of their genres and will go to shape types of completely new music, unconventional but creatively, extending the vision into the future.
Philharmonie goes Electronic Grooves
“Nicht auf den Stühlen tanzen”
“Don’t dance on the chairs”
“No bailar en las sillas”
“… Was announced before the opening”.
Friday, February 7th, 2020 – The fresh air of a typical winter Berlin night was crossing the campus of the Kulturforum. The yellow and majestic building could be seen from far away. The date finally arrived and hundreds of people came to this particular event. The first day extended a mosaic of artists from different places and creative textures. Chronologically we can rescue some exciting performances.
DON’T DJ | DJ-Set
The air suddenly filled with exotic sounds. Local DON’T DJ took the Foyer, opening the festival with his extravagant thick atmospheres ranging from winds instruments to all forms of animal calls. This time, particularly, his sounds had to follow the maze of shapes, the foyer’s jagged multi-level architecture which provided the setting for the festival’s dance centre.
Stefan Goldmann | Live-Set & Javier Benjamin | VJ-Live
The second live concert was performed by the main starring of the festival, Stefan Goldmann, and the visual artist, Javier Benjamin. Strom curator and mastermind of the Elektroakustischer Salon Berghain event series, on this time, accompanied his live music ensemble with live images along the same lines. Immediately after the frequencies were selected, they were shared so that these sounds encoded as 3D images could be displayed on the three screens surrounding the renowned German-Bulgarian DJ and composer of electronic music. A unique audiovisual show, one of the three highlights of the entire Strom Festival. The galactic orchestra that can be imagined during the course of the performance could also be full of live dances or instruments, including the entire Philharmoniker Orchestra on decks.
Kruder & Dorfmeister | Live-Set
As well as the curator of the festival, Kruder & Dorfmeister rocked the Berliner Philharmonie. The Austrian duo composed by Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister is well known for their trip-hop and downtempo remixes of pop, hip hop, and drum and bass songs. Inside a capsule of light rays, the legendary couple danced charismatically to the sound of their catchy and smooth grooves conquering the audience to the point of lifting them from their seats to start dancing all around the corridors. Cheered by the audience during most of the show, it was the most applauded concert of all Strom Festival.
KINK | Live-Set
KINK‘s charisma allows him to make live music while playing with drum machines and other sound toys with his audience… Just watching him is a joyful show. Following the rhythm of his improvisations, pressing buttons of all kinds, he passes from the DJ-pulpit to the dance floor on a round trip, without losing his laugh or the harmony on the road. As Goldmann, he can experiment successfully. For those in front, it is a real pleasure to see the Bulgarian enjoy his thing. The only lobby concert that took out the soul dancer from the reporter’s insides… KINK closed Friday night hitting the nerve of the dance floor.
Saturday, February 8th, 2020 – Strom‘s second journey was more for Berlin Atonal than for the Berliner Philharmonie. The line-up was mainly based on sonic experiments and commercial examples. Those of us who expect art, not just noise or mainstream, felt it like a bit of a waste… The proposals were quite unbalanced in terms of styles and subgenres respect to the first date. For example, who could attend only to the second tail, recognized that it would be good to include at least something more melodic or rhythmic.
As day and night
we moved from the Foyer
to the main Saal.
The first projection of the hall reminded us of those Nouvelle Vague from the 60’s such as the French film ‘The Green Ray’ in which nothing happens. The second and final performance at the main salon crowned the day by crushing eardrums of several in the audience.
Fortunately, the first day of the festival was worth it for both of them, and the initiative has had an excellent impact on the entire community, which expects the festival to be repeated monthly. The event technology company, Görnerschweizer GmbH, provided support throughout the whole festival, which was technically fulfilled in this case by the Function One sound systems.
Electronic Groove goes philharmonic…
The Berliner Philharmonie is a stunning scenario and there is no doubt that Strom is an excellent initiative. The spiritual bridges though take some time to be built and many of the attendees that could bear witness of both nights agreed that there’s a lot of potential in this kind of cross-genres. Given the fast sold out, the huge amount of performers and the general interest, the program could easily take place monthly as far as music syntonizes with the architecture: a harmonious deconstructivism. Let’s not forget that pieces like Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum (the only word this writer knew in the local language, seven years ago upon arriving), Beethoven’s 5th Symphony or Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, some of the most beautiful works of sacred music ever, have been performed at this world’s great classical music center. A good sequel for this festival could be: “A Mozart Abend with Stimming”.