Whoever allows themselves these days to form an optimistic view regarding the future of our global community is looked at skeptically and commiseratively and given the highest number of points on the naivety scale. No wonder. For how can one manage to develop an optimistic viewpoint in view of the erosion of every existing social contract, a monopolization of capital limited to very few companies and individuals, as well as the inexorably advancing climate warming? The chapter on humankind appears—despite a pronounced will to continue on the part of most of the participants—to have arrived at the last pages (even though there are indeed persons who want to obstinately ignore this). The historical records of future life forms will probably only contain a few lines on a species that wastefully plundered the resources of its home planet and by doing so expedited its own demise. Perhaps, however, the longest paragraph in these historical records will be devoted to a very special ability of Homo sapiens and outline its many centuries of achievements in the area of artistic inventions. We, those who currently reside on this planet, assign to this talent an astoundingly small amount of socio-political significance. Debates where one speaks of art’s productive and interconnecting modes of action must truly be searched for with a magnifying glass (or even better: with an electron microscope).
This means that the scarcely protected institutions have even more responsibility to ignite and maintain publicly-led discussions from the perspective of art. And thus in the end the Munich Biennale of New Music Theater, whose artistic directors we are daring to take an approach concerning this matter and are prefixing their festival in 2020 with the title FO TNIOP NEW NRUTER. That sounds slightly presumptuous. But the participating artists of the coming edition of the festival and we are interested in exactly that: presumptuousness in view of the conviction that in new music theater there is an inherent far-reaching potential for a “NEW NRUTER“. In order to unveil this, one must forcefully and consistently shake the load-bearing (and sacred) columns of music theater! Which material and narrative forms will be needed so that the envisioned turning point will be within reach? Which documentary, sociological, fantastical, and scientific sources have to be tapped for this? Do we need radical dystopic approaches or a new “principle of hope”? And which surprising and touching musical-dramatic forms of expression would need to be created in order for this biennale to set free novel and influential energies? One thing is for sure: extremely different directions in research and artistic strategies are needed! And unusual measures. And therefore not all of the projects presented at the coming biennale will have been created in 2020. We have invited Beat Furrer; Barblina Meierhans; Olga Neuwirth; Samir Odeh-Tamimi; Younghi Pagh-Paan; and Christian Wolff to, in collaboration with the Greek director Michail Marmarinos, devote themselves to elaborating on the previously unpublished music theater conceptions of the Greek composer Jani Christou (1926 – 1970), and through this to once again take a previously and distinctly rarely used approach for a productive collaboration of artistic and social actions.
All of the other productions that will be presented as part of the festival in 2020 are world premieres of projects by the composers Cathy van Eck; Óscar Escudero; Ole Hübner; Keyti (alias Cheikh Séne); Yair Klartag; Anda Kryeziu; Belenish Moreno-Gil; Yoav Pasovsky; Fabià Santcovsky; Tobias Schick; and Katharina Voigt. Months ago, we — together with these composers and the authors and directors of the coming biennale (including Anja Hilling; Schorsch Kamerun; Thomas Köck; Robert Lehniger; Michael von zur Mühlen; Christiane Pohle; Blanka Rádóczy; Kathrin Röggla; Ebru Tasdemir and Miguel Murrieta Vasquez)—set up a music drama laboratory of the future to make radical changes in direction possible. The concentration will be on the processes running there. For after all, the next Munich Biennale of New Music Theater has to do with replacing an (ancient) dictum with a new (spirited) dictum. And in such a convincing manner that no one will assume anymore there was a mistake in writing or reading when one talks about a FO TNIOP NEW NRUTER.
Daniel Ott & Manos Tsangaris
Artistic Director of the Munich Biennale Festival for New Music Theatre