Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bernhard Kerres to quit Konzerthaus

Bernhard Kerres has only been Intendant at the Konzerthaus since 2007 and will see out the coming 100th anniversary season before leaving next June, according to an announcement reported yesterday evening. The Viennese press is full of idle chatter about the millions of debt the house still owes from a comprehensive renovation carried out over ten years ago, and of public subsidies stagnant since the 1990s. Kerres wouldn’t be the first Intendant to get worn down by Viennese cultural politics, though most don’t leave without a good old scrap and he never struck me much as a quitter. There is a possibility then that the routine ‘family reasons’ and other excuses may well not be the smokescreen they seem; I probably see more of him in evenings during the season than his young daughter does (extraordinarily, he goes to everything), and his background, having trained as a young man to be an opera singer, is as a business high-flyer of the type that get itchy professional feet every few years. In any case the Intendant business isn’t something one simply leaves and expects to drop back into so doubtless he will have thought about this carefully, and whatever the reasons for the departure he leaves having established a reputation as a hard-working Intendant and easily this city’s best in the musical sector.

A few names will inevitably ricochet around the Viennese echo chamber over the coming days and weeks, most prominent among them Markus Hinterhäuser (not going to happen). My money for the dark horse goes on Matthias Losek, whose much-vaunted city hall connections got Wien Modern a 5% subsidy increase last year. But in all likelihood it won’t be a Viennese insider and possibly even non-Viennese altogether. In this, Vienna’s progressive house, time is also way overdue for a woman.

I perhaps don’t say this often enough about the Konzerthaus, but Herr Kerres leaves behind a house in terrific artistic shape. Sure, there could always be more new music in the Berio Saal and the Wiener Symphoniker’s repertoire is in urgent need of freshening up, but, forgetting for a minute the impressive number of stars and international orchestras which drop in, the programming the house helps to shape either directly or indirectly offers something for an astonishingly wide range of audiences and challenges them never in a hectoring way but by opening concert-goers’ ears to a lot more than what they already know (now, one of the fastest selling subscription packages if not the fastest is the Klangforum Wien’s). That relies on a trust built up over successive seasons that the Musikverein, which in cleaving to the Austro-Germanic canon year after year sees no broader artistic responsibility to be discharged beyond catering to its hidebound subscribers, will remain too complacent to do for many, many seasons to come. For Bernhard Kerres’ own reckoning of his achievements in post and a press release in English, follow the jump.

Dear friends,
some of you might have already seen it in the media that I have decided to leave the Wiener Konzerthaus at the end of the 100th Season in June 2013. I would like to take the opportunity to thank each and everyone of you personally for your support for the house and myself. With your support we were able to have some of the most fantastic concerts in the world, develop an award winning education and outreach program, increase audience numbers, and develop international partnerships with China, the USA, and Venezuela. Thank you!
I attach the press release for your information. But much more I do hope to celebrate the 100th Season of the Wiener Konzerthaus with as many of you as possible!
All the best,

Bernhard Kerres will leave the Wiener Konzerthaus at the end of the 100th Season in June 2013. In the six years as CEO and Artistic Director he and his team have developed an award winning outreach and education program, increased subscribers and audience numbers, developed international links, and produced many musical highlights.
More than 12.000 young people were reached with the education and outreach program UNISONO in 2011/12. UNISONO focuses on actively making music together across generations. UNESCO is the patron for UNISONO which is a case study of the EU Commission for successful outreach and education programs.
Together with the Vienna Boys’ Choir and Caritas, the Wiener Konzerthaus has developed ((superar)) under the leadership of Bernhard Kerres. In 2011/12 more than 700 children have sung every single day and performed regularly also in the Wiener Konzerthaus. In the Fall 2013, for the 100th Anniversary of the Wiener Konzerthaus, ((superar)) will open its dedicated house in an old bread factory in Vienna. It will be one of the largest facilities of its kind.
Bernhard Kerres and his team was able to grow audience numbers. For 2011/12 it will be a +3,5% compared to 2007/08 when Bernhard Kerres took over. The house was especially successful in increasing subscriptions – a plus of 7% compared to 2007/08. For the 100th Season a record in subscription sales is expected.
Many musical highlights took place in the period of Bernhard Kerres’ leadership. Some highlights were:
- the performance of all symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich with the Orchestra of the Mariinski Theater St. Petersburg conducted by Valery Gergiev in 2010
- the Beethoven quartet cycle by the Belcea Quartet in Spring 2012
- the festivals “Spot On Turkey Now” and “Spot On Jiddischkeit”
- the upcoming first residency of the Berlin Philharmonic at the Wiener Konzerthaus in Spring 2013
- starting to perform all Cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach with Georg Nigl and Luca Pianca
- the concerts and series with percussionist Martin Grubinger
At the same time many recordings could be realized in that period.
The Wiener Konzerthaus has also developed close international ties. A close exchange with China including regular concerts of the Wiener Konzerthaus at Shanghai Concert Hall are part of it as are the regular concerts at various venues in New York.
Bernhard Kerres would like to thank the wonderful and professional team of the Wiener Konzerthaus, the amazing musicians and artists, all the generous sponsors and provides of subsidies, an amazing and open audience, as well as all partners and friends of the Wiener Konzerthaus.

Image credit: Nancy Horowitz

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