Melk Abbey Baroque Festival
My appointment as artistic director of the Melk Abbey International Baroque Festival marks the start of a new chapter in my career. In tandem with my career as a singer, the festival gives me the opportunity to realize my personal vision and have an influence on the Austrian culture scene from the creative side.
In keeping with the festival's standing practices, I strive to present a musical experience of the very highest standard and have made a strong commitment to promoting up-and-coming talent.
I also have a very profound personal relationship to Melk Abbey. I first had the good fortune to come to Melk Abbey during rehearsals for Handel's "Alexander's Feast" during Advent 2001. The concert took place on 7 December with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting Concentus Musicus; that was one of the most beautiful concert experiences of my entire career. It was not just the opulent Baroque beauty of the Abbey, the immediate and inevitable aspiration of one's own heart looking from earth up to heaven, that made this concert such a highlight, but also my personal encounter with the Benedictine Abbey and its hospitality.
For my first appearance in Melk I stood as a singer on the stage with Concentus Musicus; as artistic director of the Festival, one of my first actions was to engage this ensemble as the orchestra in residence for the Baroque Festival. So it fills me with pride to be able to say that I succeeded in bringing Concentus Musicus together with other conductors for the first time, thereby creating new artistic connections.
Another cornerstone of the Festival is the Johann Heinrich Schmelzer competition, which takes place every three years. Promoting young artists is especially close to my heart and something I have devoted myself to for some years with the Young Singers Project at Salzburg Festival and the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, which I started. I therefore derive special joy from continuing and expanding this tradition. Young musicians and soloists are given the opportunity to compete in five different categories and demonstrate their skills before a jury: singing, ensemble, strings, wind and keyboard instruments. In addition to prize money, the young artists are given a concert engagement at the International Baroque Festival.