18. December 2020

Update: News about Corona

September 3, 2020

Dear friends of Ensemble Musikfabrik,

since I last spoke publicly in this space on March 23 of this year, we have not been idle even under the extreme conditions to which musical culture has been subjected. We have recorded and released almost seventy solo works on video under the title “Lockdown Tapes”, and as soon as the situation permitted, we have given almost twenty concerts in a small line-up in front of reduced audiences – “Concertini” – in our house.

From September we expect that the current opening will allow a concert life expanded again. To this end, under constant security precautions and Covid testing conditions, concerts will be moved, for example, from smaller podiums to larger ones, as we will experience on 9/9 at the Philharmonie Berlin. Our performances as part of the Musikfest Berlin now take place in the large hall in order to be able to comply with the spacing rules currently required. At the same time, we are still constantly experiencing last-minute cancellations or postponements to 2021, especially of performances abroad. This concerns concerts in Royaumont (France), the Ultima Oslo Festival, the Huddersfield Festival, Wien Modern and possibly others.

Fortunately, these cancellations are partially compensated by the extraordinary Corona federal aid program “Orchestras Facing New Challenges.” The funds come from the “Excellent Orchestral Landscape Germany” support program, which previously also funded our “Linkage” project in connection with the “Musikfabrik im WDR” concerts, which has since expired. We use these funds for in-house audio and video productions. The expanded video capabilities are also being used to do remote rehearsals with musicians who are now unable to travel as they could before. An ongoing project with virtuosos of Carnatic music who live in India can be further developed in this way.

As artistic director, however, it is my task not only to work on solving these daily problems, but I am also primarily concerned with planning for the coming years. Despite all the uncertainty, we can currently only act as if concerts can continue to take place in the future, which is why I am in talks with our partners until beyond 2022 and we all hope that the rich and valuable musical landscape in Germany and Europe can be largely preserved. However, it is foreseeable that there will be a trend towards more local events and activities, and that long journeys will be justified by longer residencies rather than short performances.

So, in short, the message is that we got through the summer relatively unscathed, are now hoping for a better autumn, and look forward to seeing you in concert again, whether in Cologne, Bochum, Essen, Berlin, Bonn, or even Amsterdam and Paris.

Yours sincerely, Thomas Fichter
Intendant Ensemble Musikfabrik


March 23, 2020

Dear friends of Ensemble Musikfabrik,

we still exist! This new situation is very real, it affects all of us, and we follow the rules of conduct in solidarity that Chancellor Merkel once again urgently proclaimed yesterday as the ones that are now required.

For a music ensemble, however, this means almost complete standstill. Our organization continues to work at full capacity at the moment (everyone at his or her private computer), but the ensemble can no longer rehearse together because of the risk of infection. Concerts are cancelled or postponed indefinitely. If a cancellation is not yet on our online calendar, you can expect it to follow soon.

The musicians of the ensemble are not permanent employees. The total income of the ensemble and the musicians depends to a large extent on concert income, even though the Ensemble Musikfabrik association is directly subsidized by public funds and foundation grants. We are thus in a similar situation together with all other non-employee musicians (for example, Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt and Ensemble Resonanz in Hamburg). We stand in solidarity with all musicians who are now also confronted with these enormous problems and have to endure tremendous uncertainty in their work and income situation.

Loss of concert income can very quickly no longer be absorbed internally – especially if the crisis continues. Ensembles and groups working with non-employee musicians are dependent on payouts from promoters, festivals, foundations and other donors that go beyond the usual force majeure arrangements, or they need direct bridging funding from the public sector. The musicians who have reserved all their time for ensemble work – which is even more difficult to implement online than some lessons – are particularly hard hit by the threat of loss of earnings.

We thank all those at the federal, state and local levels who are working to provide rapid financial assistance to independent artists, and funders and promoters who are keeping small organizations solvent by disbursing early and in full funds that have already been approved. In doing so, you are not only helping many musicians, but at the same time fighting to preserve our globally unique music scene during this crisis, which is completely new to us.

Yours Thomas Fichter
Intendant Ensemble Musikfabrik