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Landschaften – A Scrollytelling Reportage

FREO – Freie Ensembles und Orchester in Deutschland, Berlin (DE)

Diverse, dazzling, radical, colorful: the musical landscape is particularly shaped by a steadily growing number of free ensembles that continue to enrich the classical music world with innovative formats and social references. Hartmut Welscher, editor-in-chief of VAN Magazin accompanied the symposium Ensemblelandschaft in der aktuellen Musik of the International Ensemble Modern Academy in 2019 and formulates the following impression in his commentary in the event documentation: "At the end of the day, after panels, discussion forums and coffee talks, I was left with a feeling of irritation. Gathered here was a scene that has significantly shaped music since the postwar period and set new standards in repertoire development, interpretation, and performance practice. At the same time, this significance hardly seems to be reflected in the working conditions and environmental challenges of many free ensembles; on the contrary. What could be the reason for this?"

FREO – Freie Ensembles und Orchester in Deutschland e.V. (FREO) set out in 2018 as a network and interest group to resolve the grievance described by Hartmut Welscher. Today, the association continues to note in its work that education, information and, in particular, creating visibility is – and must remain – an extremely important part of its work. Because there is still far too little known about the successes and innovative power, but also the challenges, specific structures and needs of the independent orchestras.

In the scrollytelling report LANDSCHAFTEN, sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, FREO therefore focuses on the independent ensembles and orchestras and the people who found and develop them, and tells their stories. The focus is not only on the difficulties, but also on the creative and innovative power that emanates from the independent ensemble landscape. And as it is: diverse, lively, dazzling, radical and colorful. Seven main themes form the starting point of the narratives: Founding stories, Self-organization, Locally networked and at home in the world, Innovation and excellence – classical music is not a museum, In the middle of society, Survival and thinking ahead.

On the text level, the dramaturgical thread emerges from uplifting quotes from musicians of various FREO members and selected experts. The quotations are linked and supplemented with flexible and static graphic elements (e.g. infographics, maps), further explanatory texts (e.g. on specific forms of organization), exclusively produced photos and videos as well as audio examples from the ensembles' everyday work. For example, in the focus on founding histories, the constant growth of the ensemble landscape is to be depicted via a map on which the number of free orchestras grows each year as one scrolls. The main topics Innovation and Excellence and In the Middle of Society focus on the artistic work of the ensembles, for example by presenting new concert formats and reflecting and commenting on the importance of the ensembles as a driver of innovation in art music in conversations with directors or musicologists. The selection of ensembles is intended to be representative of the diversity of the scene in terms of genres, repertoire, stylistics, size, diversity, length of existence and regional distribution.

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