When the Berliner Philharmonic sets out to do a music education program, they leave the plastic maracas and tiny triangles behind and call in the professionals. Last year, the Philharmonic brought together 250 school-age children from all walks of life, social classes and ethnic backgrounds, with representation from countries like Nigeria to Iraq, to train with an experienced choreographer and perform Igor Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). Before joining the program, many of these students had little or no dance experience, and very few had any interest in classical music. Composed in 1913, Stravinsky's piece is a musical choreographic work in two parts written as an ode to pagan dance rituals celebrating the arrival of spring and its primordial creative force. The music runs through the film and becomes a metaphor for what the project aims to do. As choreographer Royston Maldoom explains, "You can change your life in a dance class." Against the feedback of nervous giggles and inchoate chattering, Maldoom keeps his poker face, pushing these students beyond their limits and demanding the discipline and focus of professional artists with no exceptions. Maldoom and orchestra conductor Sir Simon Rattle see this innovative program as a much-needed education reform. Through programs like this they hope to see classical music and dance become more accessible tools for building confidence and encouraging creativity, which they believe is no longer a luxury, but a necessary skill in the 21st century.
Director's Statement Collapse
We had long been considering how music may be presented and made a vital experience in films. How can a work like "Le Sacre du Printemps" for instance be combined with a story, be it fact or fiction, in such a way that the story is made more thrilling and emotional and viewers have a greater access to the music? In the early summer of 2002 we had the specific notion of
making a film about the new era of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under its new chief conductor, Sir Simon Rattle. On doing the research, we soon realized that the orchestra's educational project revealed much more than did changes in the concert hall about the direction in which this eminent orchestra was moving under new guidance. It revealed that this cultural institution was keen to take over social responsibility actively. The choice of the Sacre-project was then easy. With 250 participants it was the biggest and, thanks to the
coming together of the dancers with the Philharmonic Orchestra in the actual performance, the most thrilling and visual project of the first season.--Enrique Sanchez Lansch
What captured our imagination was the contrast. On the one hand there was the work of
Royston Maldoom, who for the last 30 years has been travelling in a red post office van round the world and undertaking dance projects, mostly with street urchins, and on the other hand there was the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, this lighthouse of high culture--and all this was happening between the Berlin boroughs of Weissensee and Märkisches Viertel. We wished
to see what would happen when Stravinsky's violently vigorous rite worked on street urchins ignorant of both the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and classical music. We wished to experience for ourselves what this process, which was also a physical rapprochement, would lead to. We wished to see onto what soil the seeds of this orchestra's educational project would fall and what would spring up. The Sacre-project was the first of its kind in Berlin, so the outcome was uncertain. This was the basis of our film notion.--Thomas Grube
We knew before filming that we wished to follow the preparations of the youngsters on the one hand and the preparations of the Philharmonic Orchestra on the other. Among the
young participants we wished to portray several in more detail, to show what music can change. We also knew that we wished to show the stages of Sir Simon's life, to show which personal experiences can convince someone so fully of the use of musical education and
communication. Then four weeks before the start of the workshops we got to know Royston Maldoom. It soon became clear that with his fascinating life and personality he would play a similar role in the film to Sir Simon.--Enrique Sanchez Lansch
There was an agreement that all participants would work under the same conditions. The 250 youngsters, the choreographer, and the Philharmonic Orchestra would first get to know one another in the course of rehearsals. This agreement applied to us too, which meant that we could interview no essential protagonists in advance. The script itself had to be developed as part of the process. The filming, especially during the workshops, was thrilling and involved all members of the team in a three-month marathon. In a room with 50 youngsters during a dance rehearsal, something is always bound to happen.--Thomas Grube
About the Director(s)Collapse
Thomas Grube was born in 1971. He studied political science and Eastern European studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, as well as film and television economics, at the College of Film and Television HFF Potsdam-Babelsberg. Since 1993, Grube has produced and directed short films and documentaries. In 1999, with partners Andrea Thilo and Uwe Dierks, he cofounded Boomtownmedia. Grube's films include, Karl Weschke - Myth of A Life (2000), Life In A Soap Opera (2000), Verdi's Falstaf (2001), Placido Domingo Sacred Arias (2002), and Warsaw Express, nominated for best documentary at Deutscher Fernsehpreis 2000. ENRIQUE SÁNCHEZ LANSCH was born in 1963 in Northern Spain. In 1986, after an extensive education in theater and music -- including a career as an opera singer -- Lansch began working in television. He has worked as a director on documentaries about classical music, opera, and ballet. In 1996, he became Creative Producer at Grundy UFA, and later, Supervising Producer in charge of Grundy's daily drama activities. Since 2002, Lansch has worked in Berlin as a director, writer, and producer of fiction projects and documentaries. His films include Le Nozze di Figaro (1993), New Voices (1995), Viol (1995), and Don Giovanni (1996).