Home Music Berlin


Concerts and a Documentary, 60 min + 14 x 60 min, 2021

Directed by Jan Schmidt-Garre

In the first lockdown, director Jan Schmidt-Garre, pianist Francesco Piemontesi and producer Erwin Stürzer organized a concert series in Berlin. From March to May, they streamed 14 concerts with the city’s best musicians and at the highest technical level – a glimmer of hope in these depressive months. In June, the artists got together again and celebrated a big musical summer party. This resulted in a music film, that documents the project, but at the same time also presents Berlin as a city of music, with the amazing amount of excellent artists from all over the world who live here.

Artists (selection):
Iddo Bar-Shai, piano
Zlata Chochieva, piano
Elsa Dreisig, soprano
Veronika Eberle, violin
Severin von Eckardstein, piano
Isabelle Faust, violin
Sharon Kam, clarinet
Alexander Melnikov, piano
Francesco Piemontesi, piano
Matan Porat, piano
Gabriel Schwabe, cello
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Olena Tokar, soprano
Roman Trekel, baritone
Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Tabea Zimmermann, viola

Cinematography: Michael Kotschi
Sound recording: Clémence Fabre
Editor: Sarah J. Levine

In collaboration with Naxos Audiovisual, Theosco, edelbytes and Schinkel Pavillon


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Iddo Bar-Shai

Born 1977 in Nazareth, Israel, studied at the Rubin Music Academy in Tel Aviv with Pnina Salzman. He has visited numerous international master courses, many times the interpretation course by Alexis Weissenberg. When just 11 years old, Iddo Bar-Shai received a scholarship from the American-Israeli Culture Foundation. At the age of 12 he gave his debut with orchestra. He has been distinguished in various international competitions in France, Israel and USA. There followed invitations to the most important festivals such as those in La Roque d’Anthéron, Ravinia and Verbier. Iddo Bar-Shai participated in the festival „La Folle Journée“ in Nantes as well as at festivals in Lisabon, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. As chamber musician Iddo Bar-Shai has appeared with the Aviv Quartet, Ebène Quartet and Ysaye Quartet. He has received outstanding reviews for his CDs with sonatas by Haydn, mazurkas by Chopin and pieces by Couperin.

Zlata Chochieva

Born 1985 in Moscow.  At the age of four she started receiving her basic music education as a pianist in the studio of Nina Dolenko at the Flier Music School. In 2000-2003 she continued studying the piano under the supervision of Mikhail Pletnev. When she was eight, she made her debut on the stage of Grand Hall of Moscow State Conservatory, performing Mozart’s concerto No 17 with orchestra. She has performed with numerous major orchestras, including the Russian National Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. Zlata is the prize-winner of 15 piano national and international competitions (Russia, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Portugal, Germany).
Her Chopin Complete Etudes disc for Piano Classics was selected as an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, and included in Gramophone’s list of 10 greatest Chopin recordings. Her 2015 Rachmaninov CD has likewise earned critical raves and was nominated for the German Record Critics’ Award.

Elsa Dreisig

Born 1991 in Paris, has French and Danish roots and graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris. The vocal competition Operalia awarded her First Prize as best female singer of 2016. The same year she was named Vocal Discovery of the Victoires de la Musique Classique and the magazine Opernwelt granted her the mention as Young Artist of the Year. In 2017 she was awarded Young Opera Artist of the Year in Denmark’s Copenhagen Opera Festival. As early as 2015, Elsa Dreisig had been awarded both Second Prize of the Queen Sonja Competition in Oslo as well as First Prize and Audience’s Prize of the New Voices Competition of the Bertelsmann Foundation.
After having been a member of the Berlin State Opera opera-studio, she joined in 2017 the ensemble of this theatre performing there as Pamina, Euridice, Gretel and Violetta. She made her debut at the Paris Opera as Pamina. At the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence she was Micaëla in a new-production of Carmen, in Salzburg she sang Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte.

Veronika Eberle

Born 1988, in Donauwörth, Germany, where she started violin lessons at the age of six. After studying privately with Christoph Poppen for a year, she joined the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, where she has been studying with Ana Chumachenco.
Her introduction by Simon Rattle at the 2006 Salzburg Easter Festival with the Berliner Philharmoniker, spurred her international career. Highlights among her past collaborations include NDR Hamburg, RSO Berlin, hr-Sinfonieorchester (Paavo Järvi), Bamberger Symphoniker (Robin Ticciati), Tonhalle Orchester Zurich (Michael Sanderling), NHK Symphony (Jiri Kout), Prague Symphony, La Fenice Orchestra (Eliahu Inbal), the Rotterdam Philharmonic (Sir Simon Rattle) and Milan’s Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi.
Veronika Eberle plays the “Dragonetti” Stradivarius (1700), on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.

Severin von Eckardstein

Born 1978 in Düsseldorf, Germany, won prizes at numerous international competitions: “Ferruccio Busoni” (1998), the “Leeds International Piano Competition” (2000), “José Iturbi” in Valencia (2002), the ARD-Competition (1999) and the “Grand Prix International Reine Elisabeth” in Brussels (2003, first prize). On several occasions he has been awarded special prizes for the “Best Interpretation of Contemporary Music.”
Von Eckardstein studied with Szczepanska, Kämmerling and Hellwig in Berlin. He took private lessons from Alfred Brendel and participated in master classes instructed by Alicia de Larrocha, Leon Fleisher and Menahem Pressler.
He played at many music festivals, including Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Aldeburgh/UK, La Roque d’Anthéron, France, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Miami International Piano Festival, where he played the opening concert in 2009. He has performed with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Philippe Herreweghe, Lothar Zagrosek, Marek Janowski and Paavo Järvi.

Isabelle Faust

Born 1972 in Esslingen, Germany. After winning the Leopold Mozart Competition and the Paganini Competition at a very young age, she soon gave regular performances with the world’s major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. This led to close and sustained cooperation with conductors like Claudio Abbado, Frans Brüggen, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding, Philippe Herreweghe, Andris Nelsons and Robin Ticciati.
Numerous recordings have been awarded the Diapason d’or, the Grammophone Award and other prizes. The most recent recordings include Bach’s and Mendelssohn’s violin concertos. In 2018, a recording with sonatas for violin and harpsichord by Bach was released. She shares a long-standing chamber music partnership with the pianist Alexander Melnikov. Among others, joint recordings with sonatas for piano and violin by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven or Johannes Brahms have been released.

Sharon Kam

Born 1971 in Haifa, Israel. After completing her music studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where she studied clarinet with Charles Neidich, she made her orchestral debut as a 16-year-old with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta. In 1992, she won the ARD International Music Competition, followed a year later by the Davidoff Prix. In 1998 she received the ECHO Klassik Prize as “Instrumentalist of the Year” for her CD recording of the Weber concertos with the Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur.
Kam has given concertos worldwide with major orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Kam is also active in the field of chamber music and works regularly with artists such as Lars Vogt, Christian Tetzlaff, Daniel Müller-Schott, Enrico Pace, Leif Ove Andsnes, Carolin Widmann and the Jerusalem Quartet.

Alexander Melnikov

Born 1973 in Moscow, graduated from the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Naumov. His most formative musical moments in Moscow include an early encounter with Svjatoslav Richter, who thereafter regularly invited him to festivals in Russia and France. He was awarded prizes at competitions such as the International Robert Schumann Competition (1989) and the Concours Musical Reine Elisabeth in Brussels (1991).
Known for his often-unusual musical and programmatic decisions, Alexander Melnikov developed his career-long interest in historically-informed performance practice early on. As a soloist, Melnikov has performed with orchestras including the Concertgebouw, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Philadelphia Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées and the NHK Symphony, under conductors such as Mikhail Pletnev, Teodor Currentzis, Charles Dutoit, Paavo Järvi and Valery Gergiev.
With Isabelle Faust Melnikov recorded all Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano, which won a Gramophone Award and was nominated for a Grammy.

Francesco Piemontesi

Born 1983 in Locarno, Switzerland, studied with Arie Vardi before working with Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Cécile Ousset and Alexis Weissenberg. He rose to international prominence with prizes at several major competitions, including the 2007 Queen Elisabeth Competition.
He appears with major orchestras in Boston, Cleveland, Londo, Paris, Montreal, and throughout Europe and Japan. He has performed with conductors such as Ivan Fischer, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, Marek Janowski, Neeme Järvi, Emmanuel Krivine, Ton Koopman, Zubin Mehta, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Antonio Pappano and Yuri Temirkanov. In solo recital, he has appeared in many venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonie, Zürich Tonhalle, Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, Carnegie Hall in New York and Suntory Hall Tokyo. He launched major Schubert cycles at the Schubertiade festival and at the Wigmore Hall in October 2019. Since 2012, Piemontesi has been the Artistic Director of the Settimane Musicali di Ascona.

Matan Porat

Born 1982 in Tel-Aviv, studied with Maria João Pires and Murray Perahia, obtaining his Master’s degree from the Juilliard School. His composition teachers were Ruben Seroussi and George Benjamin. He has performed at the Philharmonie in Berlin, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and Alte Oper in Frankfurt.
Known for his unique, narrative-based programming, Porat’s repertoire ranges from all Bach Partitas to Ives’ Concord Sonata and the Ligeti Concerto. He has participated in many festivals including Lockenhaus, Verbier, Hohenems, La Folle Journée, La Roque d’Antheron and Musikfest Berlin. Chamber music appearances include performances with the Artemis Quartet, Quatuor Ysaÿe, Cuarteto Casals, Modigliani, Schumann and Jerusalem Quartets. Porat’s compositions have been commissioned and performed by Nicolas Altstaedt, Avi Avital, Kim Kashkashian, Andreas Scholl, Vladimir Jurowski, Maria João Pires and Cuarteto Casals, as well as Ensemble United Berlin and the Academy of the DSO.

Gabriel Schwabe

Born 1988 in Berlin to German-Spanish parents, studied with Catalin Ilea in Berlin and with Frans Helmerson at the Kronberg Academy and received further impulses from Janos Starker, Gary Hoffmann and Gidon Kremer. He is a laureate of three of the most prestigious cello competitions: the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann in Berlin, the Concours Rostropovich in Paris and the Pierre Fournier Award in London.
As a soloist he has worked with the London Philharmonia, the RSO and DSO Berlin, the NDR Radio Philharmonic,the Malmö and Norrköping Symphony Orchestras and the NCPA Orchestra Beijing with conductors such as Marek Janowski, Dennis Russell-Davies, Cornelius Meister, Michael Sanderling, Marc Soustrot and Christian Kluxen. In chamber music, Gabriel Schwabe regularly performs with artists such as Isabelle Faust, Christian Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt and Kirill Gerstein. He is a regular guest at festivals such as the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Kronberg Festival, Amsterdam Biennale and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival. He plays a cello by Giuseppe Guarneri.

Christian Tetzlaff

Born 1966 in Hamburg, began playing the violin and piano at the age of 6, and made his concert debut at age 14. He studied with Uwe-Martin Haiberg in Lübeck and with Walter Levin in Cincinnati. His breakthrough as a soloist came in 1988 when he performed Schönberg’s Violin Concerto in critically acclaimed concerts with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic. The following year he made his solo recital debut in New York. He has continued to play as a soloist with major orchestras on stage and in recordings, including Beethoven’s works for violin and orchestra performed with the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich under David Zinman.
He joined his sister Tanja (cello) and Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) in winning the 2012 Gramophone Award for best chamber recording (playing Schumann’s piano trios). Other critically acclaimed recordings include his 2007 release of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin, and his 2012 release of three Mozart violin sonatas with Lars Vogt.

Olena Tokar

Born 1988 in Lugansk, Ucraine. She graduated from Music College in Lugansk and continued her studies at the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy in Kiev and University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig. She was a member of the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival (2011) where she took part in masterclasses with Ileana Cotrubas, Christa Ludwig, Michael Schade, and Alfred Brendel.
Olena was a finalist at the Ferruccio Tagliavini competition (2012) and a finalist at the Francisco Viñas competition. In the same year, she was awarded first prize at the Lortzing Competition, Leipzig and the ARD International Music Competition, Munich. She was a finalist at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition (2013) and joined the BBC New Generation Artist scheme (2013-15). She is member of Leipzig opera where she sings Pamina, Papagena, Susanna, Musetta (Bohème), Berta (Barbiere di Sevilla) and Zdenka (Arabella).

Roman Trekel

Born 1963 in Pirna, Germany, received his musical education in Berlin starting his career at the Berlin State Opera and has been a principal singer of this company ever since. . He has performed with the Teatro alla Scala di Milano, the Royal Opera House London, the Dresden, Hamburg and Munich State Operas, the Vienna State Opera, the Zurich Opera House, the New National Theatre Tokyo and the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals.
Roman Trekel’s intensive concert work as a lied recitalist and as soloist with the major and prestigious orchestras and conductors includes appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic under conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann.
Numerous CD recordings (Schubert, Brahms, Wagner, Strauss, Mahler, Wolf). Winner of the Echo Award for the best opera recording: Wozzeck (2017).

Jacquelyn Wagner

Born 1982 in Michigan, studied in New York and Michigan and won numerous international competitions like the International Voice Competition Francisco Vinas, the Voice Competition Renata Tebaldi and the Panasonic Voice Competition. A milestone of her career was her sensational success as Arabella in a new production at De Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, a role she also interpreted in Minnesota and Düsseldorf. This was quickly followed by her debut at the Paris Opera, where she sang Pamina and Fiordiligi, and her Meistersinger Eva at the Teatro alla Scala.
She is in high demand by opera houses and festivals as the Paris Opera, the Teatro alla Scala, the Zurich, Berlin and Barcelona opera houses and the Salzburg Festival. With her “lovely clean and focused sound” (The New York Times), “silvery tone”, “a vocal command that” make her performances “highly impressive” (Opera News), she is enjoying resounding success in such different repertoire as Mozart, Händel, Verdi and Puccini, with a special focus on the German Fach and the iconic jugendlich-dramatische roles by Wagner, Strauss and Weber.

Tabea Zimmermann

Born 1966 in Lahr, Germany, began learning to play the viola at the age of three. At the age of 13, she studied viola with Ulrich Koch at the Conservatory of Freiburg and progressed to study with Sándor Végh at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg. She soon gained notice in international competitions, winning first prizes in Genève (1982), Budapest (1984) and the Maurice Vieux International Viola Competition in Paris (1983) for which she was awarded a superb instrument made by Étienne Vatelot which she has played in her worldwide concert tours ever since.
As a soloist she has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Berlin Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, under the baton of conductors including Kurt Masur, Bernard Haitink, Christoph Eschenbach, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and others. Zimmermann is likewise involved in chamber music, having performed with Gidon Kremer, Heinz Holliger and Steven Isserlis at numerous festivals. Highly committed to the 20th and 21st century repertoire, she has attained success performing the “Sonata for Solo Viola” written for her by György Ligeti. Other composers who have written works for her include Heinz Holliger, Wolfgang Rihm and Bruno Mantovani.
Her artistic achievements and contributions have garnered her numerous national and international awards, including Frankfurter Musikpreis, the Hessian Cultural Prize, and the International Prize of the Chigiana Music Academy of Sienna. In 2020 she was awarded the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, the Nobel Prize of music.


Making Music in Pandemic Times

by Jan Schmidt-Garre, October 2021

Home Music Berlin
When the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020, it was clear to pianist Francesco Piemontesi, with whom I have been friends for many years, and to me, a director of musical films and operas, that difficult months were ahead for performing artists and especially for independent musicians. Many of them began streaming their music live from their living rooms. As sympathetic as we were to the impulse not to bury our heads in the sand, to keep in touch with the audience and to let our fingers, throats and mouths maintain their agility, many of these concerts, produced with little technical sophistication, seemed questionable to us. We decided instead to launch a concert series and offer a stage to the many outstanding classical musicians from all over the world who, like the Swiss Piemontesi, had moved to Berlin in recent years. Their feedback was enthusiastic: “A glimmer of hope”, “I haven’t touched my violin for weeks”, “finally a reason to practice again”, “my voice is already quite rusty...!”

Live from Schinkel Pavillon
Fortunately, the idea of organizing the concerts in Piemontesi’s apartment was quickly discarded when Nina Pohl, the director of the internationally very renowned Schinkel Pavillon, an exhibition space for contemporary art that had been shut down like all other cultural institutions, became enthusiastic about the idea and made her beautiful hall available for the concerts. A fellow pianist lent us his grand piano at a friendship price (a Steinway New York from 1901), the equipment rental companies also accommodated us, and the technical team showed the highest level of commitment despite modest fees. When the label Naxos Audiovisual agreed to take over a large part of the financing in the record time of 24 hours, we were ready to go. From 30 March onwards, forteen concerts were held under the name “Home Music Berlin”, without spectators, for a virtual audience on the web, recorded by masked camera and sound technicians. Word quickly spread about the artistic quality of the streams, which could be seen on various platforms, so that soon thousands of viewers from all over the world were participating live every Monday and Friday at 20:30.

A Musical Portrait of the City of Berlin
The concerts reflect the wealth of the music city Berlin. Artists from Russia, the Ukraine, the USA, England, Israel, Switzerland, France, Denmark and Germany took part, including great musicians such as Alexander Melnikov, Christian Tetzlaff, Sharon Kam, Jacquelyn Wagner, Isabelle Faust, Iddo Bar-Shai and Tabea Zimmermann. It would never have been possible to gather all these artists in a row without the lockdown. Just like a hundred years ago, the city of Berlin showed its very own artistic profile. Anyone who wanted to hear Furtwängler, Nikisch, Wilhelm Kempff, Busoni or Horowitz back then, when musicians travelled much less than they do today, had to come to Berlin. In order to hear Stravinsky, Cortot, Ravel and Satie, people travelled to Paris.

Home Music Berlin – The Documentary
From the very beginning, Jan Schmidt-Garre and feature film cameraman Michael Kotschi also documented the genesis of the project. Rehearsals, private scenes backstage, the setup, all the crazy working under the conditions of the lockdown. Talks with the artists and atmospheric pictures behind the scenes were created. In the summer of 2021, the musicians reunited and enjoyed the opportunity to meet again in larger numbers, celebrate and make music at a summer party.

If we now present the concerts and the documentary in the late phase of the pandemic, we naturally hope to be able to play and hear concerts all over the world again soon. But it would still be nice if something of the spirit of solidarity among colleagues that we were able to experience, and of the artistic idiosyncrasy of Berlin as a city of music, could be carried over into the new normality.