Festival Program 2021

The 36th Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival places the composer Franz Schubert and pianist Hélène Grimaud at the center of its program from 3 July to 29 August 2021. 

Great conductors like Alan Gilbert, Manfred Honeck, Paavo Järvi, Omer Meir Wellber, and Ton Koopman will be visiting the festival in addition to soloists like Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janine Jansen, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Alice Sara Ott, Sol Gabetta, Sabine Meyer, Ivo Pogorelich, Nigel Kennedy, Christian Gerhaher, Sergej Nakariakov, Xavier de Maistre, and Rolando Villazón. This year, the SHMF welcomes orchestras like the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the BBC Philharmonic, the NDR Radiophilharmonie, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, and the NDR Bigband. Branching away from classical music, the audience can look forward to important artists like Esther Ofarim, Katharina Straßer, Gregory Porter, Tom Jones, Milow, Giora Feidman, Wolfgang Ambros, Ulrich Tukur, Rainhard Fendrich, and Konstantin Wecker. 

“We look forward to the summer of 2021 with optimism and great anticipation. Even though not everything will be back to normal by then, we can look forward to a colorful world-class program. Thanks to the fact that the festival takes place in summer, we will be able to host many of our concerts outdoors. And there is no need to mention that in Schleswig-Holstein there is never bad weather, you may only have made poor clothing choices… Over the past few months, my team and I have been working on concepts that will make it possible to enjoy concerts in the region’s major halls albeit a significant reduction in the amount of available space with health always being our top 
priority. At the same time, we are preparing the stage for the art and thus the artists we have so dearly missed over the last months.” Dr. Christian Kuhnt, Festival Director 

Facts and Figures

157 concerts, five Music Festivals in the Countryside, two children’s music festivals, and a “Werftsommer” will be held in 79 venues at 51 locations in Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, southern Denmark, and northern Lower Saxony. The budget approved by the Foundation Board amounts to approximately 10 million euros. The Schleswig-Holstein Government supports the festival this year with 1.233 million euros. The SHMF is particularly thankful for this continued and generous support in this second year of the pandemic. Further thanks are owed to the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), to Initiative Musik, to the special program NEUSTART KULTUR, as well as to the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA). Contracts with the main sponsors, concert sponsors, and in-kind sponsors as well as donations and grants secure the financing.

New Open-Air Venues

Around two thirds of all concerts will take place outdoors. To meet the special musical demands under open-air conditions, the SHMF will erect two covered, permanently installed stages: There is a stage for large orchestras at Gut Emkendorf and a chamber music stage on the grounds of Gottorf Castle in Schleswig. 

Several other open-air venues are also celebrating their SHMF premiere, like the idyllic grounds of the Altfresenburg estate near Bad Oldesloe, as well as the manor houses of Haseldorf, Hasselburg and Pronstorf. Festival performances will also be held in the park of Ahrensburg Castle as well as the courtyards of Glücksburg Castle and Plön Castle. Open-air stages are being erected at the fire brigade museum in Norderstedt, at the Wallmuseum in Oldenburg in Holstein, and the “Kunstwerk Carlshütte” of the NordArt in Rendsburg-Büdelsdorf. With the Waalem Winery and the square in front of the Strandkorbhalle in Utersum, two additional new venues on the island of Föhr are also celebrating their SHMF premiere. The Trabrennbahn racing track in Elmshorn, the gravel works in Warder, the boat hall of the Kiel Yacht Club in Strande, and the open-air stage in Lübeck are promising spectacular concert experiences for the first time. The festival is also moving into the heart of the cities of northern Germany again this summer – but for the first time it will be stopping off at the community sports ground in Rellingen, the mayor’s garden in Wilster, and the Hohenzollernpark in Schenefeld/Mittelholstein.

Composer Retrospective: Franz Schubert 

The composer retrospective focuses on the early Romantic Franz Schubert (1797-1828). In around 50 concerts, artists like 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 like the BBC Philharmonic, the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, the Busch Trio, and the Goldmund-Quartett dedicate themselves to the work of the Austrian composer.

The Erlkings as well as the Viennese ensembles Musicabanda Franui and Die Strottern will demonstrate how the music of Franz Schubert can be reinterpreted and rearranged in a modern setting. Singer-songwriter legend Konstantin Wecker and the Ensemble Philharmonix will also present their own arrangements of Schubert’s works. In addition, the SHMF is using the composer retrospective as an opportunity to 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 will be guests on the festival stages.

Portrait Artist of the Year 2021: Hélène Grimaud

The French pianist Hélène Grimaud is this year’s portrait artist of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. She was a guest at SHMF for the first time in 2013. She fell in love with the landscape, the venues, and the special festival atmosphere in equal measure and expressed her interest early on in getting to know the SHMF even more intensively. This is exactly what is happening now in the context of her artist portrait: In the course of the festival summer, she will present a total of eleven concerts. She invites the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich under the baton of Paavo Järvi, the Camerata Salzburg, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester under Pablo Heras-Casado, the Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, and the German cellist Jan Vogler to join her on stage.

The Big Vienna

With “The Big Vienna,” the successful SHMF format of themed weekends on the grounds of NordArt in Rendsburg-Büdelsdorf reaches a new, lively climax: the music of great Viennese composers will be presented in six concerts over two days. Star violinist Daniel Hope, tenor Julian Prégardien, Viennese actress and chansonnière Erika Pluhar, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra under the baton of young conductor Lin Liao, and the Zürcher Kammerorchester will all be performing. 

New This Year: The “Werftsommer”

The typical Schleswig-Holstein is not only to be found in rural idylls or in lively urban culture, but also in port industries steeped in maritime history. Reason enough for the SHMF to make this urban ambience the backdrop for a new format: The “Werftsommer” celebrates its premiere on the grounds of the Lübeck Kulturwerft Gollan – where festival headquarters happens to also be located! Over a weekend, the industrial site will become the stage for a fun and lively line-up of bands, singer-songwriters, and up-and-coming artists including the hit techno marching band from Hamburg MEUTE, German reggae singer and songwriter Patrice, former street musician and self-proclaimed “anti-folk” artist Alicia Edelweiss, and singer-songwriter Miss Allie from Lüneburg. Two Berlin indie pop bands, Dota & Band and Die Höchste Eisenbahn, will also grace the stage. Poetry slam artist Tilo Strauß will MC the stage through the weekend.

Martin Grubinger’s 20th SHMF Anniversary

Eighteen years old at the time, Martin Grubinger performed at SHMF for the first time in 2001. His festival premiere was in the countryside at Gut Emkendorf. A few listeners seemed like they were ready to leave the hall, Martin Grubinger recalls. But even though the Schleswig-Holstein audience may not have been fully prepared for this drum virtuoso at the time, their mutual love quickly developed. Martin Grubinger has long since become a permanent member of the festival family, thrilling both the festival crew and audience with spectacular concerts. His performance last year can be considered a special peak performance: As part of the “Summer of Opportunities,” he toured with his team and two trucks through Schleswig-Holstein and performed 18 concerts on the loading platforms – a logistical and physically mammoth task, which he mastered brilliantly. The SHMF couldn’t be more pleased about the tight-knit and dedicated cooperation over the past 20 years, which continues this summer: Martin Grubinger performs on 26 July with his Percussive Planet Ensemble at the “Philharmonie im Park” at Gut Emkendorf. He is also making a guest appearance at the Pronstorf Music Festival, where he will introduce his talented students from the Mozarteum in Salzburg to the audience.


The program features pop, rock, chanson, jazz, klezmer, and folk in around 40 concerts. This year Esther Ofarim, Ulrich Tukur & die Rhythmus Boys, Axel Prahl, Giora Feidman, Milow, Jan Plewka, Nils Landgren, Thomas Quasthoff, and Avi Avital are among those performing on SHMF stages. Ensembles like the German Brass, Mnozil Brass, and Faltenradio can also be experienced. Tom Jones and Gregory Porter, whose concerts could not take place last summer due to the pandemic, will be guests on the big stage to make up for last year.

Promoting Excellence 

The Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, established by Leonard Bernstein in 1987, consists of around 100 young musicians this year. They are from the original lineup planned for the 2020 festival summer. At the time, only a small number were allowed to take part due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Every year, young talents qualify for the orchestra at around 30 auditions in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. They receive a scholarship which includes their stay at the Nordkolleg Rendsburg during the festival season from the beginning of July to the end of August as well as intensive rehearsal phases with renowned conductors. Ton Koopman, Manfred Honeck, Andris Poga, Lin Liao, and Stefan Geiger are the guest conductors this year. Of course, Christoph Eschenbach, principal conductor of the Festival Orchestra, will also lead a phase of the work. The program includes Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and a film concert based on the silent movie classic “The Kid,” by and starring Charlie Chaplin. In August, a concert tour takes the young musicians to the “Young Euro Classic” festival in Berlin. 

The Master Classes will take place at the University of Music Lübeck from 26 July to 4 August 2021. Top-class artists and educators dedicate themselves to the participants from across the globe. With cello legend David Geringas, tenor Christoph Prégardien, and pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, first-class teachers are returning to the SHMF Master Classes. Oboist Washington Barella and clarinetist Martin Spangenberg, two greats among woodwind players, are offering instrumental courses for the first time. To promote the participants beyond the purely artistic, workshops are also offered about stage presence as well as the wingwave method and dispokinesis. At the end of the courses, the participants present their progress to the festival audience at the Master Class concerts. Young musicians can still apply for the master classes until 30 April 2021.

This year’s concert series “Meisterschüler – Meister” focuses on classical singing. Thomas Quasthoff, legend in opera and lieder singing as well as professor at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, is working with the up-and-coming talents Julia Dębowska (soprano), Konstantin Ingenpaß (baritone), and Rory Green (baritone) on various arias and songs by Franz Schubert. Justus Zeyen accompanies them on the piano. Quasthoff himself recites texts by Joseph von Eichendorff, Friedrich Nietzsche, Franz Schubert, and Heinrich Heine between the vocal performances.

The 28-year-old Turkish composer Mithatcan Öcal will be awarded the 2021 Hindemith Prize. The prize honors young contemporary composers for the 32nd time and is endowed with 20,000 euros. “Mithatcan Öcal displays an impressive tonal complexity in his works. Through the fine nuances in the instrumentation, the harmonic design and the special musical expression, he touches his audience in an immediate way,” says Dr. Christian Kuhnt, Festival Director of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and jury chairman. In addition to Mithatcan Öcal, SJ Hanke, winner of last year’s 31st Hindemith Prize, will also be honored at the prize winner’s concert on 23 August 2021. The tribute to the 36-year-old was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Isata Kanneh-Mason receives Leonard Bernstein Award

This year’s Leonard Bernstein Award, endowed with 10,000 euros, goes to Isata Kanneh-Mason. Born in 1996, the British pianist is currently conquering the world’s stages – including the digital ones – with a melange of gossamer poetry and powerful performance: During the lockdown in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her six siblings released a series of livestreams, including a rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in a chamber music version that wowed over a million viewers. Isata Kanneh-Mason captivates with a refreshing versatility in her playing. She impressed the audience with a musical depth that combined virtuoso playing and musical poetry, praised jury member and Festival Director Dr. Christian Kuhnt in regard to the young artist. Tobias Stolz, President of the Sparkassen- und Giroverband für Schleswig-Holstein, is also a member of the jury and justifies the decision in favor of the award winner with the words: “Isata Kanneh-Mason inspires us from the first note. Her expressive piano playing has a captivating effect and leaves no doubt that she will soon be one of the greatest pianists. We are delighted to present this year’s Leonard Bernstein Award to this outstanding young artist.” The prize, sponsored by the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, has been awarded at the SHMF since 2002 and has established itself as a career springboard for young talents in the classical music scene. The prize winner’s concert will take place on 20 August 2021 in Lübeck.

Festival Choir

Every year, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Choir is composed of motivated singers who perform great choral works under professional guidance. Since it is currently not possible to plan a public performance due to the pandemic, especially for choirs, the ensemble will dedicate itself to a recorded production in August. The recording brings together various choral works, all of which have a connection with Schleswig-Holstein: At the center are quartets for four-part choir and piano by Gustav Jenner, who was born in Keitum on the island of Sylt and was Brahm’s only student. Choral pieces by Niels Gade, Arnold Krug, and Johannes Brahms complement the program. The choir rehearses on two weekends, each time with a half cast, under the direction of choir director Nicolas Fink. 

Family-Friendly Offers

Family concerts introduce the youngest festival visitors to classical music. The klezmer band Yxalag, founded by former students of the University of Music Lübeck, will immerse young listeners in the fairy tale about Prince Miloš on 6 August 2021 in Wedel. On his journey, he must flee from the evil neighboring king and robbers and finds his great love in the process. Through all his challenges, he is helped by an instrument: a magic clarinet! With their program “Miloš and the Enchanted Clarinet,” Yxalag inspire children ages six and older in an imaginative way for Klezmer music. Daniel Hope will also be giving a family concert as part of the Lübeck Music Festival. On 11 July, he will introduce children to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, both on the violin and in the role of narrator. Two children’s music festivals, which will take place on 14 and 15 August 2021 at Gut Wotersen, are especially geared toward children. Here, young SHMF visitors from the age of five experience concerts, hands-on activities, and a varied supporting program together with their parents and siblings.

The Lübeck Music Festival feat. Daniel Hope: Schubertiade 2.0

Star violinist Daniel Hope celebrates his Lübeck Music Festival for the seventh year in a row and transforms the Hanseatic City into a sounding stage over one weekend. From 8 to 11 July 2021, nine concerts will take place at unusual venues like the Bürgerpark of the Vorwerker Diakonie, the Hansemuseum, the Lübeck open-air stage, and the grounds of the Kulturwerft Gollan. The motto is “Schubertiade 2.0.” In keeping with the composer’s retrospective, the program includes well-known chamber music works by Franz Schubert like the Trout Quintet and the String Quintet in C Major. Daniel Hope has invited musical friends like Jacques Ammon, the young string quartet Quatuor Arod, and the French singer Noemi Waysfeldt. A modern take on Schubert is provided by the Viennese ensemble Musicabanda Franui together with the Strottern as well as singer-
songwriter Bryan Benner.

Music Festivals in the Countryside

They are the heart of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and will take place completely outdoors for the first time in 2021: Music Festivals in the Countryside. On five weekends the most beautiful estates of Schleswig-Holstein will open their gates – Hasselburg, Stocksee, Pronstorf, Emkendorf, and Wotersen. Visitors can expect a varied concert program by established artists and young talents in addition to the idyllic countryside and beautiful estates. A press briefing on the programs of the Music Festivals in the Countryside will be held on 23 April 2021.

2021 SHMF Sponsors

The Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival has enjoyed broad support from the business community from the very beginning. We would like to thank our sponsors for their great solidarity and active commitment to the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival this year, which is marked by the pandemic.

As main sponsors and partners, the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (consisting of the Schleswig-Holstein savings banks, LBS Bausparkasse Schleswig-Holstein-Hamburg AG, Provinzial Nord Brandkasse AG, DekaBank, and the Sparkassen-Kulturfonds des Deutschen Sparkassen- und Giroverbandes), NordwestLotto Schleswig-Holstein, HanseWerk AG, the BMW Group, and NDR make a significant contribution.

We would also like to thank the 49 concert sponsors, five product partners, and all 45 members of the Unternehmerinitiative Wirtschaft und Musik. With their financial contributions and personal commitment, they shape our platform for business, culture, and society.


The indispensable music education activities of the SHMF are generously supported by the Possehl Foundation, the Dr. Hannelore Murmann family, the Weiland Kulturstiftung Henning Hamkens, and the ACO Group. The Fielmann family also continues its patronage of the SHMF. The Oscar and Vera Ritter Foundation, the Mathias Tantau Foundation, Dr. Cosetta Bregu, Drs. Beate and Rainer Jebens, and Dr. Norbert Klause are part of the circle of donors. The Festivalverein, with its more than 7,500 members, also supports the festival’s work with young musicians in particular. Special thanks are due to our around 300 local volunteer festival ambassadors. With enormous commitment and specially acquired donations, they provide for the physical well-being of the 
artists from across the world.

Media Partner NDR

The NDR is also supporting the SHMF as a media partner in this very special year, which is marked by the pandemic. NDR television regularly presents festival tips in the “Schleswig-Holstein Magazin”. They also report on the highlights and featured events of the music summer. The program “Schleswig-Holstein 18:00” is also dedicated to the SHMF, among other things. The radio programs NDR Kultur and NDR Info as well as NDR 1 Welle Nord offer regular reports on the SHMF, including Monday through Friday between 7 and 9 p.m. in the program “Von Binnenland und Waterkant”. NDR television produces the opening concert of the SHMF live for 3Sat. NDR 
Kultur will also broadcast the SHMF kick-off live on the radio as well as many of other concerts covering the entire musical spectrum of the SHMF program. NDR’s “Kulturjournal” also brings to television many artist portraits and concert reports, among other topics.

One Presale, Two Steps

Presales begin on 25 February 2021. Starting immediately, concert tickets can be purchased online at www.shmf.de. Tickets can also be ordered by mail (SHMF Ticketing Office, Postfach 3840, 24037 Kiel, Germany) or fax (+49 (0) 431-23 70 711). Telephone presales start on 8 March 2021. Call the ticket hotline (+49 (0) 431-23 70 70) to order.