Eight weeks of euphoria: 101,000 visitors at SHMF 2021

The 36th Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival looks back on a successful season: of the 113,000 tickets available, around 101,000 were sold at the 200 or so events, including five music festivals in the countryside, two children's music festivals and a shipyard summer. Free of charge were the six concerts on the trailer of the music festival tractor, which stopped at public places in Schleswig-Holstein. With a capacity booking of 89 percent, the festival played 79 venues at 51 locations in Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, southern Denmark and northern Lower Saxony. 110 events were sold out. 

"This is an incredible success that we would not have dared to dream of in spring. A big gratitude goes to our audience, who showed boundless confidence in us, celebrated outstanding concert moments together with us and embarked on a highly exciting journey of discovery around our Schubert focus," says Festival Director Christian Kuhnt. 

Composer Retrospective to Franz Schubert  

This year's composer retrospective focused on the early Romantic composer Franz Schubert. Artists such as Janine Jansen, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Daniel Hope, Sabine Meyer, Christoph and Julian Prégardien, Alexander Lonquich, Benjamin Appl, Christian Gerhaher, Ivo Pogorelich and Lucas & Arthur Jussen as well as orchestras such as the Kammerorchester Basel, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, the Busch Trio and the Goldmund Quartett devoted 64 concerts to this composer. 
The Erlkings and the Viennese ensembles Musicbanda Franui and Die Strottern presented how Franz Schubert's music can be reinterpreted and arranged in a modern setting. Singer-songwriter legend Konstantin Wecker and the ensemble Philharmonix also performed their own arrangements of Schubert's works. In addition, the SHMF took the composer retrospective as an opportunity to take a look at today's musical prominence in Austria: In addition to the Viennese originals and founders of Austropop Wolfgang Ambros and Rainhard Fendrich, the ensembles Faltenradio and Mnozil Brass were guests on the festival stages. 

Portrait artist Hélène Grimaud 

The French pianist Hélène Grimaud was looking forward to giving a total of 14 concerts at the SHMF as part of her artist portrait. However, due to ongoing travel restrictions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, she was unable to attend her performances. "I am very sad not to be with you all in my beloved Germany and the magical region of Schleswig-Holstein," she regretted her absence. 

New open-air venues 

Around two thirds of all concerts took place outdoors. The covered, caterpillar-shaped stage on the grounds of Gottorf Castle in Schleswig fulfilled special musical requirements: chamber music ensembles such as the Busch Trio or the Goldmund Quartet, soloists such as Alexander Lonquich and singers such as Christoph Prégardien and Thomas Quasthoff's "Meisterschüler" performed here and enjoyed acoustic conditions together with the audience that are normally only offered by concert halls. Another specially installed stage stood at Gut Emkendorf for several weeks. It provided space for large orchestras and soloists - among others, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen together with punk violinist Nigel Kennedy or pianist Seong-Jin Cho, the Kammerorchester Basel with Sol Gabetta and the Camerata Salzburg with Jan Lisiecki could be experienced behind the manor house. 

In addition, there were a number of other open-air venues that celebrated their SHMF premiere: for example, the SHMF moved to the idyllic grounds of the Altfresenburg estate near Bad Oldesloe, to Haseldorf, Hasselburg and Pronstorf. The festival was hosted in the park of Ahrensburg Castle, in the courtyard of Glücksburg Castle and in the courtyard of Plön Castle. It set up open-air stages at the fire brigade museum in Norderstedt, at the Wallmuseum in Oldenburg in Holstein and at the "Kunstwerk Carlshütte" at NordArt in Rendsburg-Büdelsdorf. With the Waalem Winery and the square in front of the Strandkorbhalle in Utersum, two new venues on Föhr celebrated their SHMF premiere. Spectacular concert experiences were promised for the first time at the harness racing track in Elmshorn, the gravel works in Warder, the marina of the Kiel Yacht Club in Strande and the Lübeck open-air theatre. The festival also moved to the heart of the cities of northern Germany again this summer - for the first time it stopped at the community sports field in Rellingen, the mayor's garden in Wilster and the Hohenzollern Park in Schenefeld/Mittelholstein.   


The "Werftsommer" celebrated its premiere on the grounds of Lübeck's Kulturwerft Gollan. On one weekend, the eleven-member techno marching band MEUTE, reggae singer Patrice, the indie pop band Die Höchste Eisenbahn, Wallis Bird and DOTA performed within an urban atmosphere. In addition, visitors could explore exciting projects in the fields of innovation, sustainability and regionalism between the concerts. 

Promoting talent

An important pillar of the SHMF this year was once again the promotion of young talent. At the master classes, for example, the teachers Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christoph Prégardien and David Geringas passed on their experience to young talents. The participants also benefited from workshops on performance training, moderation and improving concentration. 

The Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra worked with conductors Ton Koopman, Manfred Honeck, Andris Poga, Lin Liao, Stefan Geiger and Principal Conductor Christoph Eschenbach during the festival months. A total of 14 concerts were given. The 90 young musicians come from 28 nations and had qualified through auditions in around 30 cities worldwide. 

This summer, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Choir dedicated itself to a recording that was sponsored by the Sparkassen of Schleswig-Holstein and presented to the state of Schleswig-Holstein on its 75th birthday. The album "Land und Wogen" (Land and Waves) brings together various choral works that all have a connection to the northernmost federal state: At the centre are quartets for four-part choir and piano by Gustav Jenner, who was born in Keitum on Sylt and was Brahm's only pupil. The first two pieces are available online at www.shmf.de/land-und-wogen. From the end of September, all 24 pieces will be available via the link. 

As part of SHMF 2021, three prizes were awarded that have established themselves as career stepping stones for young talents in the classical music scene: First, in a double prize-winners' concert, Mithatcan Öcal from Turkey was awarded the Hindemith Prize 2021. Since 1990, this prize of 20,000 euros has been awarded to outstanding young contemporary composers. In addition to Öcal, SJ Hanke, winner of last year's prize, was also honoured. His prize-winning concert was cancelled in 2020 due to Corona. 

The 25-year-old British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason received the Leonard Bernstein Award worth 10,000 euros and the 16-year-old violist Céline Eberhardt, in a duo with the 17-year-old pianist Danai Vogiatzi, won the Promotional Prize worth 5,000 euros - the latter two awards are donated by the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe.


The indispensable music education activities of the SHMF are generously supported by the Possehl Foundation, the Dr. Hannelore Murmann family, the Oscar and Vera Ritter Foundation, the Mathias Tantau Foundation, the ZEIT Foundation Gerd and Ebelin Bucerius, the Weiland Cultural Foundation Henning Hamkens, the Nordkolleg Rendsburg and the ACO Group. The Fielmann family also continues its commitment as patrons of the SHMF. 

The festival association, with its more than 7,900 members, also supports the festival's work with young musicians in particular. A big thank you goes to Hahn Familien GmbH, Dres. Beate and Rainer Jebens and Dr. Norbert Klause for their generous commitment to the festival orchestra's circle of benefactors. The Festival Association would also like to thank the advisory board, which now numbers around 300 volunteers. With enormous commitment and specially acquired donations, they provide for the physical well-being of the artists from all over the world. 

Luustern, the Musikfeste and Daniel Hope's Lübeck Music Festival 

This year, the SHMF again offered many opportunities to cross borders into other genres beyond classical music: in the "Luustern" series (Low German for "listening"), Esther Ofarim, the jazz ensemble 4 Wheel Drive, the Philharmonix, Jan Plewka, Ulrich Tukur and Axel Prahl, among others, presented sounds from the fields of song, jazz, klezmer and pop. 

The "Music Festivals in the Countryside" (Musikfeste auf dem Lande) invited visitors to the Hasselburg, Stocksee, Pronstorf, Emkendorf and Wotersen estates, where musical focuses included "Irish Folk", "Swing" or "Tango". In Wotersen there was also a children's music festival, where the youngest festival visitors from the age of 5 and up, together with their families, experienced hands-on activities, concerts and a colourful complementary programme. 

Star violinist Daniel Hope celebrated his "Lübeck Music Festival", transforming the Hanseatic city into a sounding stage with nine concerts over four days. The motto of the long sounding weekend this year was "A Schubertiade 2.0", and was inspired by the SHMF's composer retrospective dedicated to Franz Schubert. The project was sponsored by the Possehl Foundation.

Sponsors of the SHMF 2021

The Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival has enjoyed broad support from the economy from the very beginning. We would like to thank our sponsors for their great support and their active commitment to the SHMF. As principal sponsors and partners, the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (consisting of the Sparkassen Schleswig-Holstein, LBS Bausparkasse Schleswig-Holstein-Hamburg AG, Provinzial Nord Brandkasse AG, Deka-Bank and the Sparkassen-Kulturfonds des Deutschen Sparkassen- und Giroverbandes), NordwestLotto Schleswig-Holstein, HanseWerk AG, BMW Group and NDR make a very significant contribution.

We would also like to thank the 54 concert sponsors, including five product partners, as well as all 44 members of the Entrepreneurial Initiative Business and Music. With their monetary contributions and personal commitment, they shape and mould our platform for business, culture and society.

Special thanks

The SHMF would also like to thank the state of Schleswig-Holstein for its generous support in this second pandemic year. Further thanks go to the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), to the Initiative Musik, to the special programme NEUSTART KULTUR, as well as to the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA).

Media partner NDR

The NDR was once again at the SHMF's side as media partner in this year, which was marked by the pandemic. NDR television regularly presented festival tips in "Schleswig-Holstein Magazin". In addition, the highlights and central events of the music summer were reported on. The programme "Schleswig-Holstein 18:00" was also dedicated to the SHMF, among other things. In addition, there were regular reports on the SHMF in the radio programmes NDR Kultur and NDR Info as well as on NDR 1 Welle Nord, here also on Mondays to Fridays in "Von Binnenland und Waterkant" between 7 and 9 pm. NDR television produced the opening concert of the SHMF live for 3Sat. NDR Kultur also broadcast the SHMF opening concert live on the radio and also broadcast a large number of other concerts covering the entire musical spectrum of the SHMF programme. In addition, there were many artist portraits and concert reports, including on NDR Fernsehen's "Kulturjournal".


The 2022 festival programme will be published on 25 February next year.