Elbphilharmonie | »Greatest Hits«: Composer Slam


I’m Simon Kluth and on 3 November I’ll be hosting the Composer Slam at the Greatest Hits Festival at Kampnagel. The idea for Composer Slam came to me when I attended my first poetry slam. I was immediately impressed with the slam format. I found it great that everyone can take part and that the decision of who the winner should be lies in the hands of the audience only. The composers present their works on home-made musical instruments. I don’t even know what they look like. I just know that a violin will be played. A recorder too – perhaps there’s been something haptic added on to it. Home-made can also mean that the sound has been – or will be – defamiliarised electronically. At Composer Slam, there are no set limits. And at this Composer Slam, you can experience these instrument variations in a completely new setting. It works like this: Each composer can present two works – one in the first round, the other in the second round. I randomly select a jury from the audience and each jury member then holds up a score. The composer who receives the most points wins. What is the prize? That’s a surprise! All I can say is that the event should just be fun for everyone. Last year I observed that the »Greatest Hits« festival gives audiences a better understanding of contemporary music. Besides all the concerts – there are two, three or even four taking place per day – there’s also a supporting programme and more. The experience is very intense, but as an audience member, you can exchange opinions and thoughts with others in a different way than at a »normal« classical music concert. At a festival, you attend one concert together, and then you decide to go to this other concert, while your companion goes to another one. The festival format is really great – this intense experience and exchange of thoughts. I have a trio with which I play contemporary music. Whenever I perform contemporary music, I feel like I’m doing something important for the genre of music. As opposed to when I interpret Mozart or Brahms, I’ve personally come to the conclusion that when I premiere new works in dialogue with the composers, then I enter uncharted waters. The »Greatest Hits« festival is a super festival, even for people who don’t have much experience with contemporary music. Why? Because of the events on offer. For example, the Composer Slam is a format that introduces contemporary music to people in an entertaining and earnest way. I’ve been doing this for more than four years, also in other locations than Kampnagel, like bars or cultural centres. Everytime the audience is completely different. I’ve learnt that either people like or dislike the Composer Slam. There aren’t people who have a neutral opinion. Either people find it really great and share their thoughts with each other. And that’s a thing I actually love about music – that people discuss among one another and say, »Yeah, I really liked so-and-so, because…«, or, »No, I didn’t like so-and-so, because…«. And then there’s some people who say, »Nope, Composer Slam just isn’t for me«. That’s completely alright! I think it’s good that it polarises audiences You need to just come by and experience it for yourselves! As a rule, I think contemporary music is extremely important. And if you’re interested in contemporary music, then you’ll experience a compact and concentrated festival of diverse new music events. I recommend that you stay and listen to Phillip Sollmann’s »Monophonie« It is going to be performed by Ensemble Musikfabrik Great piece, great ensemble!