31st Music Biennale Zagreb

CONTINUUM: celebration! 60th anniversary of the MBZ 7 - 25th April 2021
During the festival's days, in April every other year Zagreb is transformed into the cultural centre to which composers, music critics, the best musicians, and contemporary music and arts lovers from the region and Europe gravitate. The festival has a strong response as well as an incentive in its own environment. It would not be wrong to say that the time in combination with the geographical and political framework of the period when the Music Biennale was founded, have contributed considerably to Biennale's success since the very beginning, which continued to shape the festival until today.
Completely dedicated to the new music - including the "living Classics" of contemporary music and the new generation of composers from all over the world, Music Biennale programmes include projects from symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, experimental musical theatre, contemporary dance, jazz, electronics to alternative music scene.
Closely interrelated with other arts, the Music Biennale Zagreb fills a considerable and a very distinctive position on the Croatian and regional cultural scene. Such a favourable situation is partly due to the choice of performers, most of whom are superb music professionals.
Two ideas are kept in the forefront of the Music Biennale: tolerance and a high standard of musical production, creativity and reproduction.
The anniversary edition of the festival will present the pluralistic diversity of today's male and female composers and call to mind many prominent composers from the second half of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries who left an extraordinary mark on the world of contemporary composing both globally and in Zagreb. Thanks to the technological progress and its application on the creative processes, it is now possible to examine the possibilities available to the composing of the future.

The focus of the 60th anniversary of the Biennale is memories of 1961 – the first edition of the Festival and its founder Milko Kelemen, which will be interwoven in a dignified manner through most of the festival’s program.

Kelemen’s opus will be presented through several festival programs: from the oldest part of his opus related to his studies in Zagreb, all the way to compositions created during his international activities, which will also serve as a sort of a cross-section and continuum of Kelemen’s creative work.

Considering Kelemen’s life and influence on setting up the first edition of the festival, the main partner-countries will be Germany and France.

The main theme of the program concept and the main metaphorical protagonist is the notion of “time” whose consequences are ephemerality, changes and a need for control. The term “Continuum” represents a continuous line through time: past, present and future. The key feature of the program is the memory and celebration of the past and persons connected with it, as well as facing the younger generations – the so-called contrasts of time – the contrast between the bygone and the current.

We will show how sounds change through creative eras and how the perforation of space affects the perception of sound and the duration of a piece, and, most importantly, we will be constantly opposing “the old“ and “the new“ used to conceive and create “the future.“
The programs of some concerts will be set up as a sort of a journey through time, mostly from the past to the present, i.e. the future – from the “safer” sound worlds to the unknown, sometimes even vice versa, questioning thus the psychological perception of music in the context of surprise.

The entire program is conceived as a road from the traditional setting to a radical cut with a typical, traditional concert space. That is why it will begin in a venue full of classical music history (Croatian National Theater in Zagreb) and end in a utopian venue that opens up possible different visions of the future of contemporary music.
This “metamorphosis of the festival” is, figuratively speaking, the objective of many artists – the need to develop and the search for utopia. It also represents the course the Biennale should take – it should remain a celebration of tradition while constantly opening up to new possibilities, i.e. exploring the unchartered territories.

In addition to concerts of excellent, prominent ensembles, the key parts of the festival will be installations, lectures (related to the program agenda), alternative late-night program (jazz, improvisation, electronics), and the program for the youth and children – from workshops with renowned international musicians for students of the Music Academy to the interesting Biennale program for children.

Communication and international promotion of the festival are among the key aspirations of the festival, so marketing and media activities of the next MBZ will also include internationally famous journalists, periodicals, bloggers etc. who are an indispensable part of the world of contemporary music.

We are using Milko Kelemen’s reply to the question “what is music?” as our guiding light in his memory: “Music is the projection of the chords of the impressive (majestas, fascinans, tremendum, energicum, sanctum, mirum) on musical structures.”

It is the different approach to these structures that is susceptible to the effect of time, which is perhaps most strongly manifested in artistic expression – and that – music as the mirror of time – will be the guiding star in the program concept.