The “Music of Virtuosos”

 Esin Hamamci


The “Music of Virtuosos” concert series started by Kadıköy Municipality Süreyya Opera continued in January with the duo concert of cellist Benedict Kloeckner and Danae Dörken. The concert took place on January 10, 2022 at 20:00.

While recording the works they chose as a CD in these concerts with the theme of “Between Nostalgia and Revolution”, which they gave to Istanbul classical music lovers in the enchanting atmosphere of Süreyya Opera, their aim was to combine Schumann’s innovative spirit, his passion for the music of the past, especially Johann Sebastian Bach’s music, with 20th century compositions. they wanted to unite. Audiences will not only wish for the highest artistic standard set by masters like Bach in Schumann’s music, but they will also hear his effort to create a “folk style” that is simple for the public to understand.

The poetry, sensitivity and sincerity that are indispensable for Dmitri Shostakovich and Bohuslav Martiniqual, whose works are included in the program, are very clearly characterized in Schumann’s music. Although these and similar elements that humanity should have contrast with the reality of humanity, Leonard Bernstein used music to counter this violence.

While performing their programs, Benedict Kloeckner and Danae Dörken respond to this violence with their music in line with the spirit of Leonard Bernstein and invite the audience to their concerts where they will “play more intensely, more beautifully, more selflessly and with a revolutionary spirit than ever before”.

Esin Hamamcı talked with cellist Benedict Kloeckner and Danae Dörken, guests of the “Music of Virtuosos” concert series initiated by Kadıköy Municipality Süreyya Opera.

With Benedict Kloeckner

Esin Hamamcı: Welcome to Istanbul. How did this “duo concert” program come about and what are your feelings about the program?

Benedict Kloeckner: We’re happy to be in Istanbul and perform for the Turkish audience. This program is very dear to our hearts and contains many of our favourite pieces. We wanted to combine really revolutionary pieces, nostalgic pieces like showing broad scales of emotions. Especially the pieces that Schumann like. At the same time it’s nostalgic looking back to this musical heroes like Bach, in the meantime very innovative. And Shostakovich has very similar approach. So, I think it’s a very varied and interesting program.

Esin Hamamcı: You play a 1690 Cremona cello made by Italian luthier Francesco Rugeri, previously played by Maurice Gendron. How does this make you feel?

Benedict Kloeckner: It’s very special to play with an instrument that has such a history. At the same time it feels like a big responsibility. Also a big big pleasure because it just creates an incredible sense that’s really a piece of art. It’s really something that is able to make a connection also with the past.

Esin Hamamcı: Since 2014, you have been the founder and artistic director of the “Koblenz International Music Festival”, which hosts the most famous artists in Europe and the world, such as Vilde Frang and Louis. What is the importance of the festival for you, what have you done so far?

Benedict Kloeckner: That’s for me a wonderful place to try out things. It’s also a place to meet new musicians, make new artistic friendships. Yes it has a great importance in my artistic life. It also enables me to create programs. And we are now in the 10th year so far. We do normally around 20 concerts per year.

Esin Hamamcı: Do we need musicologist knowledge to go to a classical music concert? How do you convince those who are afraid of classical music concerts?

Benedict Kloeckner: I don’t think it’s necessary that you have some musicology knowledge to enjoy a concert. You just should have open ear and open heart. And I’m sure someone who have never been in a classical concert will very much enjoy it.

Esin Hamamcı: Why classical music and why cello?

Benedict Kloeckner: When I was a little boy I heard the cello for the first time when my brother was playing some chamber/cello music with his friends. I somehow fell in with this amazing sound of the cello. Which is very close to the human voice? I just want to be able to produce this.

Esin Hamamcı: What was it like to make music when we were confined to homes during the pandemic, how do you see the developments in music now?

Benedict Kloeckner: It was also an experience which enrichened our artistic path, because we had a lot of time to create new projects. I started to prepare all my Bach suites during this first confinement. Of course it was a pity that all the concerts got cancelled, but we stopped making music.

With Danae Dörken

Esin Hamamcı: Welcome to Istanbul. How did this “duo concert” program come about and what are your feelings about the program?

Thank you very much for the questions. So, we decided to play this program because we recorded it in our recent duo album. The idea behind the program is to combine very revolutionary pieces, such as Shostakovich’s cello sonata, and Martinu’s “Variations”. That really are a symbol of very forward thinking musicians that really represent the revolution and that were really also fighting in their own way through music. And to combine this with the nostalgia of Schumann, because we really believe that these two belong together and very much in common.

Esin Hamamcı: You made an impact on the European refugee crisis with your music. How did that make you feel?

Danae Dörken: As part of my festival we also really tried to work and do whatever we could in relations to European refugee crisis. And this is something really close to my heart and very important for me, because for me, coming from the island Lesbos, this is a subject that i see very closely, me and my family and my friends are really confronted by. So it was something that was of great significance to me. What i realised that, music is a place where we can all be the same and be equal. Where there doesn’t need to be different between where we come from, what our cultural or religious background is. It’s simply a place where we can all be the same, and therefore it’s the perfect way to adress people of many different origins and to remind everyone of this fact: In the end we are all human. I find that this is some of the most important things we can do to use music for such an important cause.

Esin Hamamcı: Do we need musicologist knowledge to go to a classical music concert? How do you convince those who are afraid of classical music concerts?

Danae Dörken: I personally believe that you definitely do not need any musicologist knowledge in order to attend a classical music concert. Classical music is truly for everyone, and what I think is what’s so powerful about classical music is that it takes you on a journey. It is not the type of music where you sit down for 2 minutes and you listen to a short piece. But you sit down and you truly go on a journey that is going to transform you. And it is something very powerful and that really leaves a lasting impression on you. And I believe when you leave a concert you are not the same person as when you came and sat down at the beginning of the concert. I have made many experiences with audiences that have never gone to classical music concerts. I have gone into many schools, played for kids that have never listened classical music and I have always gotten reactions of astonishment. People told me, “we didn’t even know that this existed”, and they were moved to tears because classical music can be extremely moving. What I think is important in order to make it more accessible is to maybe talk a little bit more about the background to take away this distance between audience and classical music. It is to really explaine the the story of the composer, the story of the piece that you’re going to hear. And I think that then for the people it is going to be such an enjoyable and transformational experience. Definitely it is wrong that you need any background. You don’t need any background, you can just come and enjoy the ride.

Esin Hamamcı: In 2015, you and your sister founded the Molyvos International Music Festival (MIMF) on the island of Lesbos. How is the festival going and how does it make you feel?

Danae Dörken: In 2015 my sister and I found Molyvos International Music Festival, which this year is going to take place for the eighth time. This is something that makes us so happy that we could bring classical music to our hometown in Greece, because we’re both half Greek and half German. The festival is a great example of bringing classical music to a place that did not have a lot of classical music. And in the concerts, we very often talk about the stories behind the pieces, how the classical composers back then were kind of similar to rock stars and pop stars of nowadays. It really is the story of life, the story of love, the story of hardships and pain. Everything that we experience in life is something that can be heard in classical music. And the people of the island have really embraced the festival so much, which we are so thankful for. It is still a wonderful event that happens every summer, every August in Greece. And we are really grateful that we can invite our friends and colleagues and famous musicians to play there. We also try to keep it very current to the current events. We try to remind everyone, as I said before, on this level of music we are all one, we are all the same. There is no need to be afraid, there is no need to make a division and divide people but more open to connect everyone through music.

Danae Dörken& Esin Hamamcı& Benedict Kloeckner

Esin Hamamcı: Why classical music and why piano?

Danae Dörken: For me it was a coincidence that I started playing the piano, because when I was 5 years old I went to a birthday party of a girl that can play the piano. I told my mother that I also want to start playing and in the beginning she said, “oh the piano is such a big, expensive instrument, maybe you should play a flute or something like that.” We didn’t have a piano at home, because both my parents are not musicians. So, it really was my idea. In the beginning it started out as a hobby, and I just really liked it so much. After the first 5-6 months I won my first competition. Then my parents also supported it. We rented our first piano at home and that’s kind of how I started. From then on it very quickly became more intensive and more serious. Then I started studying at the university when I was 10 years old, and after that I couldn’t really imagine my life without the piano and without classical music.

Esin Hamamcı: What was it like to make music when we were confined to homes during the pandemic, how do you see the developments in music now?

Danae Dörken: To me, the time that we were confined in our homes during that pandemic was really a time where I realized the true power of music. Because I never stopped playing. Many musicians simply kept making music in our homes, and I realized why we do this. It’s really for the reason of sharing our experiences, sharing our emotions with other people. It is not that we do it for financial reasons or anything like that, it is for the music itself. What I also realized is the importance and the power of the audience. Because every concert is a unique experience and an experience like no other. So, whenever we go on stage and there’s an audience there, the audience shapes the concert with us. During the pandemic we didn’t have that element. I remember the first time that I went on stage again after the confinement, and it was such a moving experience. I must say that every time that I play a concert now I am really incredibly thankful that there is an audience there that is experiencing the tension and the emotions and feelings of peace together with me and that I can share the concert with.

Benedict Kloeckner is a highly regarded representative of the new generation of cellists, a great voice for his instrument, which he performs worldwide. He is a winner of the European radio competition, the Verbier festival Academy Nicolas Firmenich award and the Emanuel Feuermann competition Berlin. He is performing with renowned orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, German Radio Philharmonic Orchestras, the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, the NDR and Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestras, the Kremerata Baltica and the Munich chamber orchestra, working with conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Howard Griffiths, Ingo Metzmacher, Michael Sanderling and Heinrich Schiff. Championed by such maestros as Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle, he performs at venues including the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York, Symphony Hall in Chicago, John. F Kennedy Center in Washington, Tonhalle Zurich, Cadogan Hall and the Barbican Centre in London, Athenäum Bukarest, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Musikverein Wien. A keen chamber musician, Benedict is performing with artists such as Sir András Schiff, Anne Sophie Mutter, Gidon Kremer, Christoph Eschenbach, Antoine Tamestit, Emmanuel Ax, Fazil Say, Lisa Batiashvili, Yuri Bashmet, Benjamin Grosvenor, Lars Vogt and Christian Tetzlaff. Benedict likes to work with composers. In 2018 he presented the world premiere of Eun-Hwa Cho’s cello concerto with the Korean Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christoph Poppen at Seoul Arts Center, as well as the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s double concerto for two Cellos. 2020 he will play the world premiere of Eric Tanguys new Cello Solo work at the Abbaye de Thoronnet. For 2021 Wolfgang Rihm invited him to play his latest Cello concerto. In the 2019/2020 season he will be play Dvorak concerto touring Asia with the Slovak national Orchestra, Beethoven Tripel Concerto on several European Tours and the complete 6 Bach Suites in recitals in Berlin, Washington and the Netherlands. Furthermore he will be on tour in South America Tour with several concerts with Filarmónica de Buenos Aires and Recitals in Teatro Colon Buenes Aires. 2021 he will play a 6 Bach suites integral at Berlin Philharmonic hall, Frankfurt Alte Oper and Carnegie hall New York. He will be on tour as well with the Schumann concerto conducted by Maestro Shinik Hahm, the Prokofiev Sinfonia concertante with the Lichtenstein national Orchestra , the Capetown and Johannesburg Philharmonic , the Gulda concerto with the German national theatre orchestra and the Haydn D major concerto with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, in halls such as Gewandhaus Leipzig, Seoul Arts Center and Palais des Beaux Arts Brussels. His recording catalogue includes a highly acclaimed recording of Robert Schumann’s cello concerto, nominated for the German Record Critics prize, and collaborations with Gidon Kremer, the conductors Heinrich Schiff and Michael Sanderling, the pianists José Gallardo, Danae Doerken, Anna Fedorova, and the composer and pianist Howard Blake. Since 2014 Benedict is the artistic director and founder of the “International Music Festival Koblenz” presenting concerts with artists such as Vilde Frang, Louis Schwizgebel, Boris Giltburg and orchestras such as the Georgian and Munich Chamber orchestras. Benedict Kloeckner studied with Martin Ostertag, and as a young soloist of the Kronberg Academy Masters with Frans Helmerson and Gary Hoffman, graciously financed by the “Angela Winkler-Scholarship”, from 2009 to 2017. Benedict Kloeckner is also very grateful to Steven Isserlis, Gidon Kremer, Michael Sanderling, and Sir Andras Schiff for the musical insight and support they have offered for his artistic development. He plays an Italian Cello by Francesco Rugeri (Cremona 1690), formerly played by Maurice Gendron

German-Greek pianist Danae Dörken is, at age twenty-nine, among the elite of internationally acclaimed artists of a new generation, electrifying audiences and peer musicians alike with her stunning technical skills, exceptional charisma and great profundity of her musical thinking. A uniquely gifted talent at very young age, Danae received the support of Lord Yehudi Menuhin when she was seven, and soon began to cause a stir at major European venues with her ‚sparkling joy of playing’ (Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger) Following her studies with the internationally venerated teacher Karl-Heinz Kämmerling und with Lars Vogt, she is today a regular guest of major orchestras including the Munich Symphony, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Norrlandsoperan Symphony and Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra. Ms Dörken has performed to great critical acclaim at London‘s Wigmore Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Mozarteum Salzburg, and KKL Lucerne, Tonhalle Zurich, Beaux-Arts Brussels, at the Cologne Philharmonie, Philharmonie Essen, at Gasteig in Munich, Konzerthaus Berlin, the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Tonhalle Dusseldorf, Frankfurt Alte Oper, and Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Danae Dörken also performs regularly at major festivals including Kissinger Sommer, Schwetzingen festival, LuganoMusica, Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the renowned ‘Spannungen’ festival in Heimbach. Highlights of the 2019/2020 season are Danae Dörken’s debuts with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Neues Kammerorchester Potsdam. Furthermore, she gives her recital debuts at the Lucerne Festival and the Tokyo Musashino Cultural Hall. Chamber Music engagements will lead her to Wigmore Hall London, the Brucknerhaus Linz where she performs with violinists Benjamin Beilman as well as the Klavierfestival Ruhr, where she performs with her sister Kiveli, a pianist herself. She will also continue her collaboration with cellist Benedict Kloeckner and perform with him in Germany and Cyprus. During the 2018/19 season, Danae Dörken celebrated her solo debuts at the Rheingau Musikfestival, Staatstheater Darmstadt and Museum Villa Rot as well as debuts with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Munic Chamber Orchestra, Norrlandsoperan Symphony, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Antalya Symphony. Being a passionate chamber musician, she has performed together with leading artists such as Lars Vogt, Gustav Rivinius, Sharon Kam, Artur Pizarro, Christiane Oelze, Carolin Widmann, Benjamin Beilman, Benedict Klöckner and Katia & Marielle Labèque. Together with her sister Kiveli, Danae Dörken regularly presents outstanding four-hand piano repertoire. In an SWR Stuttgart Radio production, Danae is recording a new album together with oboist Philippe Tondre. Danae Dörken’s groundbreaking recording of the Piano Concerto No. 21 by Mozart and of the rarely performed Piano Concerto No. 2 by Mendelssohn (with Royal Northern Sinfonia) was released in 2016, to raving critical acclaim. Previously, her solo recording of fantasies by Schumann, Schubert and C.P.E. Bach (on ARS Produktion) was nominated for on ICMA Award. Her 2012 debut CD, featuring solo works by Leoš Janáček (also on ARS Produktion), received equally enthusiastic reviews. Her current two albums “EAST and WEST” (ARS Produktion) and “Between Nostalgia and Revolution” (GENUIN) have received raving reviews and were nominated for an ICMA Award and the German Record Critics’ Award. Of Greek descent, Danae Dörken founded the Molyvos International Music Festival (MIMF) in 2015 together with her sister on the island of Lesbos. Amidst the dramas of the European refugee crisis and the European financial crisis, her festival has become a major contribution to strengthening the connections with classical music in Greece. The festival today has all-year benefit events running also throughout Germany, featuring many of the MIMF artists including Marlis Petersen, Sebastian Manz, Maximilian Hornung, Philippe Tondre, Linus Roth, and Lars Vogt. Danae Dörken‘s service to classical music and the Greek island of Lesbos has been repeatedly covered by major media outlets including German, Austrian and Swiss national television programs ‘ttt’ and ‘3sat kulturzeit’, on WDR television and in countless newspaper articles, radio features and other reports.

“Music of Virtuosos”/“Between Nostalgia & Revolution” Benedict Kloeckner / Cello & Danae Dörken / Piano Duo Concert Program:

Robert Schumann Five Folk Style Works for Cello and Piano, Op. 102

Bohuslav Martinů Themed Variations of a Slovak Melody for Cello and Piano, H. 378

Robert Schumann Three Fantasy Works for Cello and Piano, Op. 73

Robert Schumann Adagio & Allegro for Cello and Piano in A Flat Major, Op. 70

Dmitri Shostakovich Cello and Piano Sonata in D Minor Op. 40Tickets for this series of concerts, which will be held with the contributions of KAM MANAGEMENT & DERMOSKIN, can be purchased from the Sureyya Opera box office and from the Kadıköy Municipality https://bilet.kadikoy.bel.tr/