Bonn’s Kunst!Rasen is approaching its Seasons end now whilst for others the Season is just beginning.
The Beethoven Orchestra Bonn began it’s new Season with a ‘Classic’ Open Air Picnic on Saturday, free for ‘All residents’. The aim being, so the Orchestras programme proclaimed, ‘to reach those people that until now hadn’t experienced Classical Music’.
Would they succeed? Did it rain? Did they manage to fit the whole Orchestra in the dressing room? An evening of questions lay before me…
Despite the threatening grey clouds there is a good sized crowd in front of the Kunst!Rasen stage when I arrive. It’s certainly not the ‘average’ Kunst!Rasen audience, and I suspect that instead of introducing new people to Classical music, this might also be a case of introducing new people to Kunst!Rasen. There seem to be less rubbish bins, and the bottle banks to put plastic glasses in as a donation instead of getting a refund on them have disappeared. The Kunst!Garten has also undergone a subtle change and has seemingly turned its speakers down at the entrance cocktail bar. Even the ‘souvenir Tent’ has been transformed and is now replaced by immaculately dressed young ladies and gentlemen offering programmes and stickers rather than badges and T shirts.
Despite the small cosmetic ‘makeovers’ I’m sure a number of people here would have enjoyed Don Airey’s Classical interlude during the Rocknight with Deep Purple a few weeks ago. For those like myself who are less seasoned Classical visitors though there should be some familiar territory in tonight’s show/concert: snatches from ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, Barber of Seville’, ‘Merry Widow’ and something that everyone must know by now even if they don’t know a French Horn from a French fry – ‘Maria’ from Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’.
The audience seems to range from about nine (months) to ninety (years) but to his credit conductor Stefan Blunier has a lightness of touch with his between piece banter that appeals to them all. The evenings theme is a Summer one, he announces with an eye on the weather, and when his mention of holidays in Spain gets a wild applause he admits to being surprised, but the reality is that it’s a sign the audience is on his, and the Orchestra’s side for the evening and come rain (it did) or shine (it didn’t) they were onto a winner.
An enjoyable concert in itself, most important was the reminder that Beethoven and Kunst!Rasen are not two different concepts when talking about Culture and Music in relation to Bonn. Both are essential: Without roots you can have no future, and without a future what use are the roots? Kunst!Rasen needs the City’s powerful musical foundation that Classical Music has given it, and Classical Music needs Kunst!Rasen to maintain Bonn as a City where Music is still relevant. The two ensure that Bonn has become, and will hopefully remain, a City associated with top quality Music.
Stefan Blunier picked the following citation in his ‘Forward’ to the Bonn Orchestra’s 2013/14 programme from Victor Hugo:
“Music says those things we are unable to say in words, yet must be said”
That remains true, whether the music itself is from BAP or Beethoven. Long may Bonn be a City that can embrace both old and new with enthusiasm.