News Archive

Photo © Felix Patzelt
Photo © Felix Patzelt

Bertolt Brecht was one of the most influential German poets and playwrights of the 20th century. Collaborative projects with musicians and composers were an integral part of his work. Many of Brecht's texts question the role of the individual in society. What is a person worth? From what source do people draw their sense of self-worth? What happens in a society where people's worth goes unrecognized? "Auf ein Wort" features song settings by Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau on these and related themes.

The concert location is the "Altes Pumpwerk", a unique space built in Bremen's former water works, now a water museum. It is possible -- and recommended -- to visit the museum before the concert.

Julie Comparini, voice
Alexander Seemann, piano and accordeon
Felix Patzelt, guitar

February 10, 2017, 8:00 pm (Einlass: 7:00 pm)
Altes Pumpwerk
Salzburger Straße 12
28219 Bremen

Admission: €15 / €10 students and seniors
Reservations by telephone: 0421 363636

More information

Where do musical traditions have their "home" and how can music define or create that home? Musicians from fourteen countries around the world show how different musical traditions can interact, influence each other and be a force for social and political change.

Hayden Chisholm from New Zealand explores the landscape of German folk music in "Sound of Heimat" (D 2012; in German, Thursday. 26.Jan / 19:30, with guests Hayden Chisholm, Loni Kuisle and Peter Schenk from the Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen). "Blackhearts" follows Black Metal fans from around the world who have found their spiritual home in Norway (NOR 2016, 83 Min., orig. with English subtitles; 27. Jan. / 22:30). Crossover projects and new directions for old traditions save the careers of the musicians in "Song of Lahore" (USA 2015, orig. with English subtitles; 27.Jan /18:00.), make 19th-century opera contemporary in "La Bohème am Kap" (SA 2015, Xhosa with German subtitles; 28. Jan. / 18:00), drive political movements in "Sumé - The Sound of a Revolution" (Greenland 2014, orig. with English subtitles; 29. Jan. / 18:00) and fight for freedom and peace in the face of repression in "Mali Blues" (D 2016, French with German subtitles; 28.Jan / 20:30 with director Lutz Gregor) and "Electro Chaabi" (Egypt/F 2013, orig. with German subtitles; 28.Jan. / 22:30). Globalisation and the practically endless possibilities afforded by the digital era play a central role in "Presenting Princess Shaw" (ISR 2016, 80 Min., in English; 29. Jan / 20:30.)

Highlight of the festival: the 1925 Indian-German co-production "The Light of Asia" ("Die Leuchte Asiens") with a newly composed live soundtrack. Celebrated Indian and world music expert Willy Schwarz and composer Riccardo Castagnola combine classical Indian music with contemporary electronics and create a musical bridge between historiy and cultures. (27.Jan. / 20:30 * with live music. Made possible with the generous support the Indian Embassy in Berlin.

All films and events take place in Bremen's communal cinema City 46, Birkenstraße 1, 28195 Bremen. For more information about the program and the festival, visit the MFF website.

Alan at Fugue for Thought was so happy with my contributions to the René Leibowitz article that I was asked to be a guest on his podcast! We talk about my musical (and non-musical) background, working with early and new music, the piece "Explanation of Metaphors", the "Cabaret Voltaire" operetta and musical life in general. It's a wonderful interview and you can listen to it on iTunes or via the Fugue for Thought blog.

By the way, the Cabaret Voltaire operetta was recorded on video and we are currently crowdfunding a DVD production. The DVD is planned for limited, non-commercial release, so if you want one, please donate to the crowdfunding effort at the link below!

World Premiere of a new operetta by Peter Stangel (Music) and Jürgen von Stenglin (Text).

Zürich in 1916: the avant-garde art movement DADA opens the Cabaret Voltaire, a new establishment for the advancement of DADA art and performance. At the same time -- and on the other side of the street -- lives Vladimir Ilitsch Lenin in Swiss exile. Tristan Tzara and Lenin, James Joyce and Emmy Hennings, love, spies, nobles and a butler all have their appearances in Cabaret Voltaire. A musical-theatrical homage to Zürich at a time when even the strangest artistic meetings were possible, with a tip of the hat to Offenbach and Weill.

Dominik Wilgenbus as narrator and nine singers, along with the taschenphilharmonie and video projections by Cornelia von Seidlein bring the audience on a wild ride through the world of avant-garde intellectual entertainment.

With Adam Sanchez (Graf Emanuele di Pedroso), Julian Freibott (Hugo Ball), Andrea Lauren Brown (Monique-Fleur Schneidegger), Peter Pruchniewitz (Vladimir Lenin), Julie Comparini (Emmy Hennings), Giulio Alvise Caselli (Tristan Tzara) u.a.

More information on the taschenphilharmonie website!

Photo © J. Marc Reichow
Photo © J. Marc Reichow

There's a great article on René Leibowitz's work Explanation of Metaphors up at the blog Fugue for Thought. A sample excerpt of the live performance of this work can be found on my Audio page, but it's worth buying the piece, or the whole album -- "René Leibowitz Compositeur" -- on iTunes or as a beautiful double-CD edition from Divox.

Is the EU a housing syndicate or a house full of roommates? Robert Griess' latest program is a cabaret frenzy of comic figures: do-gooders hunting down privileges, the superrich straddled between tax evasion and charity galas, artists haunted by the threat of creative prostitution, and "Alfons von Ascheberg-Aldenhoven", Germany's craziest financial consultant.

With cabaret artist Robert Griess, singer Julie Comparini, physicist Dr. Felix Patzelt, the Bremer Kaffeehaus-Orchester and Peter Schenk from the Arbeitnehmerkammer.

Pay at the exit - as much as you want!

Saturday, November 28, 2015 Kultursaal der Arbeitnehmerkammer Bürgerstraße 1, 28195 Bremen

Reservations: 0421-36 30 19 70 or

Two song cycles by Ned Rorem (USA) and Ian Wilson (Ireland)

Julie Comparini – mezzo-soprano, Yonit Kosovske – piano
Featuring photo projections by media artist Piet Wessing

Poems of Love and the Rain is a thirty-minute song cycle by Ned Rorem (b.1923–). In this cycle, Rorem takes us on a round-trip poetic journey by way of a palindrome, featuring texts by poets such as W.H. Auden, Emily Dickinson, Theodore Roethke, Jack Larson, e.e. cummings, and others. Rorem writes:

I selected poems by several American authors and set each one to music twice, in as contrasting a manner as possible. None of the music is repeated, although there is one recurring motive throughout. And the order chosen for these seventeen songs is 'pyramidal': the sequence works toward the Interlude, then backtracks, as in a mirror." He also says that his choice of poems "deal principally with requited love against a backdrop of constant rain," and adds, "The cycle tells no story per se; it seeks rather to sustain a uniform mood with as much variety as the terms of this mood permit, with an occasional flash of light through the black cloud... if a poem is 'good' there is more than one way of musicalizing it.

Games, by Ian Wilson, is a thirty-minute song cycle on texts by Vasko Popa (1922–1991), one of Serbia's (formerly Yugoslavia) greatest poets. Popa fought as a Partisan during World War II and spent time imprisoned in a German concentration camp. Long after the war ended, Popa's poem cycle Games was published in 1965 as part of his collection "Unrest-Field." Ian Wilson's song cycle, premiered in 2004, reflects on these poems, to which he felt inspired to set to music. Wilson writes:

To me, these surrealist texts, superficially about strange and uncomfortable games, are very likely a way of processing and reflecting on his war-time experiences.

The projected photographs by media artist Piet Wessing (Essen, Germany) provide a stage setting for the songs. In his collection "Inferno", Wessing explores the fascination with scenes of horror that has been one feature of Western art since the MIddle Ages. His work features collage techniques similar to the sampling techniques of modern music, using images from historical paintings, film scenes, and press and documentary photography.

Piet Wessing and composer Ian Wilson will be attending the concert. A production of the Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen with the support of the Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

Friday, September 11, 2015, 8:00 pm
Concert Hall, Music Department, Hochschule für Künste Bremen
Dechanatstraße 13-15, 28195 Bremen

Free admission

Jacob a Labano fugiens
(Johann) Simon Mayr (1763 – 1845)
Conducted by: Franz Hauk

The long-awaited recording of Simon Mayr's Jacob a Labano fugiens was released in February 2015. Mayr's highly operatic oratorio tells the story of the biblical patriarch Jacob (Julie Comparini) and his wives Leah (Andrea Lauren Brown) and Rachel (Gunhild Lang-Alsvik), who are forced to flee from Jacob's father-in-law, Laban (Siri Thornhill). Leah, the peacemaker, tries to stay optimistic while Rachel's loyalties waver between her husband and her father. Jacob, caught in a tactically and emotionally unwinnable situation, must prepare himself for the approaching conflict with his persecutor.

Jacob a Labano fugiens was Mayr's first oratorio. It was composed for the musicians of the Ospedale di Mendicanti in Venice and first performed there in 1791. Franz Hauk is Mayr's leading interpreter and "discoverer" and has performed many of his works for the first time in modern years.

Jacob a Labano fugiens is available on CD at all classical record stores and online shops, at the Naxos web site, or in digital download form from iTunes.

Rebels and Revolution 2nd Musikfilmfestival Bremen

This January, the Musikfilmfestival Bremen presents ten films about musicians who use music as a vehicle for political change and resistance, as well as those who revolutionized their own genres.

With the use of noise, silence, visual art, everyday objects and chance elements in his compositions, John Cage (JOURNEYS IN SOUND) not only expanded the boundaries of what is considered "classical music", but the fundamental definition of "music" itself. His influence can be seen in Kimmo Pohjonen's groundbreaking accordeon playing (SOUNDBREAKER), Björk's undefinable mix of pop sound and multimedia nature film (BIOPHILIA) or Lisa Gerrards subtle film music revolution (SANCTUARY). Political movements can be supported, inflamed or even started by a rebellious musician, exemplified here by Mercedes Sosa (THE VOICE OF LATIN AMERICA) and Kathleen Hanna (THE PUNK SINGER). Or a work of music can be re-interpreted in support of revolutions worldwide (FOLLOWING THE NINTH). Or a child can learn music in order to rebel against parental secrecy and control (FINN UND DIE MAGIE DER MUSIK). Even films about music can be revolutionary, as seen in the expressionistic fantasy world of ORLACS HÄNDE or the experimentally allegorical interpretation of the life of Franz Liszt in LISZTOMANIA.

Featuring live performances and silent film accompaniment by Julie Comparini (voice), Ezzat Nashashibi (piano), Isabel Lipthay (voice, interview), Hans-Christoph Hartmann (saxophone), Christian Meyer (piano, percussion) and violin students of Matthias Fooken from the music school "Casa della Musica".

2nd Musikfilmfestival Bremen
January 22 - 28, 2015
City46 - Kommunalkino Bremen
Birkenstraße 1, 28195 Bremen

Julie Comparini and Alina Rotaru, curators
Karl-Heinz Schmid, City46

Complete schedule available online at the MFF web site or City46.

Johann Frederick Lampe's comedic opera The Dragon of Wantley (our version: Der Drache von Schrobenhausen) played to a full house and was a rousing success at the 2014 Tage der Barockmusik in Schrobenhausen. In addition to great print reviews (not reprinted here for copyright reasons), we were featured in two radio and TV programs. Here's one, from the Kulturkanal Ingolstadt.

The Bremer Arbeitnehmerkammer is gearing up to continue their wonderful work in a newly-renovated performance space! The "new" hall will re-open on June 14th with a fresh look, better acoustics, and a very special concert: settings of texts by Bertolt Brecht, performed by singers Julie Comparini, Stefanie Golisch and Evelyn Gramel, arranged and accompanied by the Bremer Kaffeehaus-Orchester, and moderated by Peter Schenk.

Saturday, June 14th, 2014, 8:00 pm Kultursaal der Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen, Bürgerstraße 1, 28195 Bremen Tickets: € 15 / € 12 reduced Ticket service: Tel. 0421 / 3630 1987

Love and longing, passion and pain are, if not the oldest, certainly the most fundamental emotions in all of human art and expression. Julie Comparini and Ensemble La Ninfea present a fiery and temperamental concert of seventeenthth-century Italian cantatas and instrumental music.

Ensemble La Ninfea specializes in chamber music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly modern discoveries of unjustly forgotten works and composers. The ensemble and its individual members have received multiple prizes and awards as is celebrated by critics and audience for its virtuosity and depth of expression.

Julie Comparini, contralto

Ensemble La Ninfea: Barbara Heindlmeier, recorder; Christian Heim, recorder and viola da gamba; Marthe Perl, viola da gamba; Simon Linné, lutes; Alina Rotaru, harpsichord

Saturday, November 9th, 2013, 7:30 pm Rathaus, Mühlenstraße 2-4, Ganderkesee, Germany

2013 is not only Richard Wagner's 200th birthday, but the centennial birthday of... René Leibowitz! Better-known (if at all) as a conductor than as a composer, Leibowitz was a student of Maurice Ravel and Anton Webern and went on to write an impressive collection of works in a wide range of styles and instrumentations.

Ensemble aisthesis and the Schola Heidelberg, under the direction of Walter Nußbaum, have recently released a new double CD of Leibowitz's chamber works, available in both a downloadable and CD version.

Julie Comparini is featured as soloist in "Explanation of Metaphors" for Sprechgesang, harp, two pianos and percussion. See the "Audio" section for a sample!

According to the Gallup Engement-Index Germany, only 13 percent of German employees identify with the company they work for. The majority - 66 percent - just do their job. 21 percent feel no emotional connection to their workplace at all. Meanwhile, creative consultants are writing specially tailored company songs to boost employee morale. Will it help?

Thomas Ebermann, author of the musical "Firmenhymnenhandel", labor activist Frank Teichmüller and other guests discuss musical strategies of corporate identity with Peter Schenk from the Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen.

Musical and visual accompaniment: Schorsch Kamerun, Lisa Politt, Harry Rowohlt, Rocko Schamoni, "Tocotronic" singer Dirk von Lowtzow and others present their take on "corporate commercials", while Willy Schwarz and Julie Comparini of "Willy's Wunderbare World of Werbung" take us on a tour of 1950's and 60's American corporate advertising.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at 7:30 pm Schwankhalle, Buntentorsteinweg 112, 28201 Bremen Free admission

This Christmas season, Julie Comparini will appear in five concerts with L'Orfeo Barockorchester, one of Austria's leading period intrument orchestras: J. S. Bach's Mass in B-Minor in Graz and Vienna and Christmas Oratorio in Salzburg and Ried/Innkreis.

Previous projects with L'Orfeo include Händel's Brockes-Passion at the Händel-Festspielen in Halle in 2012 and Orpheus, oder die wunderbare Beständigkeit der Liebe at the donauFestwochen in 2010.

On the second Sunday of every month, music lovers have the opportunity to hear a cantata by J. S. Bach, performed on period instruments, during the church services at the Kirche Unser Lieben Frauen in Bremen. As in Bach's time, each cantata is performed on the Sunday and in the liturgical context for which it was written. As of June 2012, we have performed more than 85 of Bach's 200 church cantatas and the project is still going strong.

Upcoming cantatas: (unless otherwise noted, at 10:30 am in the Kirche Unser Lieben Frauen, 28195 Bremen)

July 8th, 2012 um 12:00: BWV 75, "Die Elenden sollen alle essen" August 12, 2012: BWV 46, "Schauet doch und sehet" October 14, 2012: BWV 48, "Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen" November 11, 2012: BWV 52, "Falsche Welt, ich trau dir nicht"

Laudate-Cantate is a collaborative project, made possible by the work of many individuals and organisations. The church of Unser Lieben Frauen and the Stiftung Laudate-Cantate provide the structural and financial basis. Most of the vocal and instrumental soloists studied in the excellent Early Music department of the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen. The orchestra musicians, most of whom are amateurs, have nevertheless achieved a professional standard thanks to their dedication to this repertoire and the intensive preparation and coaching with their professional concertmaster. Individual donations ensure the continuing success of the project.

For more information or to support Laudate-Cantate, click here.

This spring marks the release of a new CD featuring Julie Comparini singing music from Baroque and Elizabethan theaters. It is available immediately, includes rarely heard gems or new takes on popular repertoire and makes a great addition to your classical or early music CD collection. Enjoy!

Some Strange Felicity

Ensemble Sospiri Ardenti

Julie Comparini, mezzo-soprano
Ellen Delahanty, soprano and recorder
Jurgen Debruyn, lute and archlute
Geert Van Gele, recorder and harpsichord

Kattenberg Recordings KA005
Buy here

Orpheus, oder die wunderbare Beständigkeit der Liebe By Georg Philipp Telemann

"The ancient legend of Orpheus, son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope, as preserved in Ovid's Metamorphoses, can justly be termed the mother of all opera plots..." — Telemann's brilliant and colorful adaptation of the Orpheus myth is a rare jewel from Hamburg's 18th-century Gänsemarkt theater.

Dorothee Mields, Orasia
Markus Volpert, Orpheus
Ulrike Hofbauer, Eurydice
Christian Zenker, Eurimedes
Barbara Kraus, Ismene
Reinhard Mayr, Pluto
Marelieze Gerber, Cephisa
Julie Comparini, Ascalax

L'Orfeo Barockorchester
Directed by Michi Gaigg

Sony Music/deutsche harmonia mundi.