Tiny House Concerts – DW – 09/01/2023

Among people who aren’t classical music fans, the genre has a reputation for being stuffy and elitist. But those who love classical music, and who play it, know that the reality is very different: After all, it would have died out long ago if it weren’t constantly being reinvigorated by new generations of young people from around the world who bring their own fresh ideas and interpretations, both to the music itself and to the institutions that promote it.

Keeping classical music fresh

The new series from DW Classical Music, “Tiny House Concert,” introduces viewers to some of these young musicians ensuring that classical music stays relevant well into the 21st century.

A tiny house set on a hill in a garden, with yellow flowers in the foreground.
Steven Walter’s tiny house near Bonn: a cozy location for conversation and concertsImage: Michael Staab

The location is the tiny house outside of Bonn owned by Steven Walter, who took over as director of the Beethovenfest in late 2021, and whose music career started on the cello.

He’s joined at his house by Coco Elane, a multidisciplinary artist who started off playing classical viola before discovering improvisation and veering off into pop and jazz music.

Three people stand next to each other, smiling at the camera. The man on the left is holding a cello.
(L-R) Cellist Isang Enders, violist Coco Elane, and Beethovenfest director Steven WalterImage: Danial Fischer

Exploring boundaries, questioning conventions

They welcome a variety of musicians for an evening featuring down-to-earth conversations about the realities of their professional and creative lives (helped along by questions picked randomly out of a repurposed gumball machine); communal cooking of recipes chosen by the guests for their personal connection; and of course, playing music.

The guests sometimes play solo, sometimes accompanied by Steven and Coco. The pieces they have selected for the series are works that often expand the boundaries of what constitutes classical music.

Neither the hosts nor their guests regard classical music as an end onto itself, a closed system with rigid rules that must be adhered to. Rather, they see it as a means to an end, a gateway to experimentation and exploration. And they look critically at some of the established conventions in the classical world.

A red-haired, bearded man sits at a piano, looking off into the distance.
Pianist Kai Schumacher uses classical music as a starting point for musical experimentationImage: Michael Staab

Deep talk, music and humor

Pianist Danae Dörken and cellist Isang Enders talk about the tough decisions they’ve made to ensure they haven’t had to sacrifice their well-being for the sake of a successful career.

Guitarist Kalle Kalima and pianist and composer Kai Schumacher both got their starts in other musical genres and use classical music to expand their creative expression.

And soprano Anna-Lena Elbert shows how she runs the gamut from historically accurate interpretations of Renaissance music to modern compositions using digital technology.

With well-founded specialist knowledge and musical prowess, a curiosity for the new and a healthy dose of good humor, the “Tiny House Concert” episodes are entertaining, thought-provoking and often surprising.

The series is a co-production of DW and ARD Kultur. It consists of five 26-minute episodes, which can be found on the DW Classical Music YouTube channel.



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