New festival in Spandau: early music at historic locations

The sensual, foolish season doesn’t really suit Berlin’s nature. If you want to really bang on your drums before Lent, you don’t have to flee to the jolly Rhineland. Under the motto “Carnival Passion”, the first edition of the SPAM Festival invites you to an entertaining musical journey that also leads to Paris, Spain and of course to the lagoon city of Venice.

The provocative acronym “SPAM” stands for “Spandau makes early music”. A variety of instrumental and vocal works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque can be heard in the historical citadel and in the Gothic Nikolai Church. Excerpts from carnival operas, dance movements and fandango variations are played on the dulcimer – but also serious, meditative choral works that call for inner contemplation.

Celebrate first, then atone

“Carnival and Passiontide belong together. Exuberant celebrations reveal the perversion of freedom, followed immediately by remorse and penance,” says musicologist Bernhard Schrammek, who curates the festival together with viol player Heidi Gröger.

At the opening, the Berlin Lautten Compagney and the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis will perform virtuoso church music by Monteverdi, Rigatti and other Venetian composers. The “Festa della salute” is remembered here, a procession of thanksgiving with which the Serenissima celebrated the end of a serious plague epidemic every year from 1631 onwards.

The baritone Holger Falk comes on stage with the ensemble Nuovo Aspetto as a singing gondolier. The ship’s songs take the listener on a tour of the canals of Venice, past magnificent churches and palaces. The Berlin Academy for Early Music with Bernhard Forck presents Parisian carnival operas by Lully and Campa, mocking pieces by Telemann and Biber and rousing Venetian rhythms under the Rhenish motto “Helau!”.

Franziska Fleischanderl plays the salterio, a historical dulcimer
© Gerhard Winkler

“Most of the ensembles have developed their programs specifically for our festival,” emphasizes Schrammek. “So you’re not just pulling something familiar out of a quiver.”

The soprano and harpist Arianna Savall brings spirited Spanish dances and songs to the table. Castanets will also sound when she performs with the Hirundo Maris Ensemble in the Gothic Hall of the Citadel. Among the prominent festival guests is Ton Koopman, who plays baroque harpsichord works with his wife Tini Mathot.

There is also plenty to learn about rare instruments. The musician Franziska Fleischanderl, for example, will present the salterio, a kind of historical dulcimer that is played with the fingers or a plectrum.

Please sing the chorales along

As is well known, the carnival fun is over on Ash Wednesday. The pitch also changes at the SPAM Festival. The Berlin ensemble Vox Nostra, which specializes in the Middle Ages, performs liturgical music in the Nikolaikirche – purely vocal, without any accessories.

Bach’s St. John Passion is performed in an unusually reduced form by a trio consisting of the Icelandic tenor Benedikt Kristjánsson, the harpsichordist Elina Albach and the percussionist Philipp Lamprecht. The audience is invited to sing along to the hymns.

The date falls on February 24, the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine. “Many people will think about the war on that day. What occupies you during the day cannot simply be pushed aside,” says Schrammek. “Bach’s music can also give a lot of comfort in this situation.”

The final concert entitled “Tears of Sorrow” will be performed by the Ensemble Capella de la Torre together with the Rias Chamber Choir, conducted by the Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš. In “Lagrime di San Pietro” by Orlando di Lasso, man appears as a sinner, while hope and confidence are aroused in the sonorous works by the Venetian brothers Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli.

Here is a lot more news from Spandau

Would you like to read more from Spandau? Gladly. Then we recommend our Spandau newsletter, in which we offer you exclusive district news, pick up on neighborhood debates, and give lots of dates and tips. Once a week and free of charge – and for every Berlin district – at Here are the topics in the current Spandau newsletter.

  • 20 quick facts for elections in Spandau town hall
  • Home office 1.0: The mayor used to live in the town hall – but who?
  • Large construction site in Staaken: 1. Simulations of the supermarket at Brunsbütteler Damm
  • 4 instead of 5 lanes: the update on the Heerstrasse and the Stoessensee Bridge
  • After 12 years: finally a snack for the Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gymnasium
  • Should be 2023 not the yellow bin for coming?
  • 60 million project: Start of construction at Spree corner Havel
  • Ideas for the new Siemensstadt: more green, fewer trucks
  • After the dispute about the refugee container village: The way for the new school at Rohrdamm is clear
  • Not spam, but spam festival: Spandau makes early music
  • Spandau SV: first fan article
  • “Run of Sympathy” with route change
  • Church fundraiser for Ukraine: who has expired first-aid kits?
  • Worship service for lovers in St. Nikolai
  • ...all that and much more Read the current Spandau newsletter from the Tagesspiegel:

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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