Dear guests, citizens, cosmopolitans,
Paradise and Hell – in differing religious and cultural contexts these words have for millennia augured reward for earthly virtue or punishment for profligacy. Images of heavenly Jerusalem and torrid purgatory constituted the thorny and forceful motivation behind all human action. Today’s mortal world provides a principle focus for both these aspects in the context of the city with its conglomeration of inhabitants and activities. Even the very first urban settlements in Mesopotamia six thousand years ago furnished the ideal environment for both aspects’ violent encounter: a city is simultaneously a place of desire and devilry, palaces and gutters, poorhouses and warehouses, temples and brothels!
In his “Hollywood Elegies”, Bertolt Brecht in exile wrote: “Paradise and Hell can be one and the same city: for those without means, Paradise is Hell.” This applies not only to Los Angeles, with its famous dream factories where Brecht wrote the Elegies in 1942, but also to this city – Cologne! As exceptional as any city, repulsive and attractive, nurturing and demanding, Cologne is lustrous and squalid, and affords innumerable opportunities for advancement and demise, luxuriousness, drudgery, and struggle for survival. All these aspects colour Cologne’s independent music scene. A quintessentially cosmopolitan phenomenon, Cologne is characterised by bustling activity, greatness, inquisitiveness, global inclusiveness, immigrant settlement, multivoicedness, and the constant struggle for attention, recognition, and survival, between the volatile and conflicting priorities of artistic development and financial (self-)exploitation.
The Kölner Musiknacht’s theme in 2013 is “One city: Paradise and Hell”: 400 musicians from Cologne’s independent music scene address different facets of the city in 100 concerts in 25 locations, including all musical eras and styles from classical, jazz, improvisation, choral and world music, to electronic, early and contemporary music. The Kölner Musiknacht, initiated in 2005, is organised by the Initiativkreis Freie Musik (independent music initiative – IFM), founded in Cologne in 1999 by free-lance professional musicians, ensembles, promoters and performance locations, in order to improve working conditions, heighten awareness and appreciation of their work, and draw public and political attention to their chronically underfinanced achievements. Our long-standing partners are KölnTourismus and Kulturradio WDR 3, who will be broadcasting selected concerts as usual. Further supporters are the administrative department for events, the cultural office of the city of Cologne, Sparkasse KölnBonn, the federal state board for music NRW, and ON, the network for contemporary music.
We are grateful for all cooperation and support, and regard these as an enormous encouragement in our endeavour to interlink all musical protagonists with each other and with the city and state for the benefit of Cologne’s rich musical life and its audiences.