A podium for the young at the RWE Power Plant

500 children experience chamber music first hand in world-class performances

Pupils from a school class present their music project

Yasunori Kawahara und Lars Vogt

“Concerts for children are just as important to me as concerts for adults”, says Festival founder and artistic director Lars Vogt. Since the very beginning, the Festival featured the two children’s classics “Carnival of the Animals” and “Peter and the Wolf” in recitals with narrators Klaus Maria Brandauer and Konrad Beikircher, and on those occasions the power plant was filled with an audience of spellbound schoolchildren. Now each annual programme features a special workshop recital for the young. Festival musicians introduce them for the first time to classical music in an unusual location: 500 children experience chamber music performed at the highest level in a “cathedral of machinery” in the midst of the idyllic Eifel countryside.

On the podium, surrounded by electrical generators from the past, the SPANNUNGEN performers generated their own flow of concentrated energy, brimming with bold experimental delight and a true joy in making music together. At the beginning of the concert, they let their young “colleagues” come onstage to present the results a large-scale music project they have carried out in school, and the entire audience is invited to participate. The Festival musicians then give their performance and kindle the audience with enthusiasm. Lars Vogt guides listeners through the program, presenting the works, and fomenting dialogue between the musicians and the audience. “We want to touch children’s emotions with music”, violinist Christian Tetzlaff underscores, and he is speaking for his musician colleagues who all want to share their enthusiasm with the young.

RWE AG and Westenergie AG, the chamber music festival’s main sponsors, has supported the annual youth concert from the very beginning. They bring the 500 children in buses from schools all over Düren County to the power plant, since the energy firm and Lars Vogt do not want to limit their outreach to those who already like classical music. Everyone should have the chance to experience this exciting artform. The association that organizes the Festival – the Kunstförderverein – and the main sponsor share the same goal: bringing schoolchildren in contact with the artists and with the music.

Dag JensenClassical music in the classroom
In 2006, Lars Vogt initiated the multi-awarded classical music project „Rhapsody in School“. Today, ca. 200 world-class musicians form part of the initiative, including most of those who perform at SPANNUNGEN. When they are performing in a town, they visit school classes on a volunteer basis, perform in front of the children, and directly convey their enthusiasm for music to the class. During the festival week in Heimbach, the musicians also use gaps in their schedule to visit school classes in the vicinity.

Youth Project Day
Each year, 25 youngsters from the age of 16 are selected as “backstage special guests” who get to know the Festival close at hand for an entire day. Looking behind the scenes, they visit the radio broadcast van, attend the rehearsals and hear an introductory lecture about the concert. In the evening they are among the concert guests at the power plant.

Scholarships for young musicians of exceptional talent
Each year the Festival grants scholarships to promising talents – another way of encouraging and supporting young people in their path toward classical music.

Advancement prizes for schoolchildren 
In 2012, the association that organizes the Festival – the Kunstförderverein – awarded two advancement prizes for the first time and has continued to do so. Thus the association supports seriously committed music projects in schools, as well as individual pupils in their ongoing music education.

Music from the tower
For many years, a frequent custom has been for young brass performers to announce the beginning of concerts by playing ensemble music from the power station tower. The music includes compositions specifically written for SPANNUNGEN. The kids practice over the entire schoolyear under the supervision of Renold Quade. In the case of children’s concerts, the turn goes to brass musicians from participating local schools who get to announce the concert by playing from the tower themselves.