The STEGREIF.orchestra is an international group of 30 young, versatile musicians of various musical origins. What makes the ensemble unique is the way they create new paths for both themselves and the audience to approach classical music. Expanded by folklore, jazz, klezmer, blues and rock, Stegreif creates innovative, musically and visually powerfull reinterpretations of well-known repertoire. STEGREIF explores new worlds of sound and is constantly trying to bend the boundaries between musical genres. The ensemble always performs without sheet music, without a conductor and without chairs. The resulting freedom creates space for improvisation and movement. The concert hall, the auditorium, the ranks, everything becomes a stage, giving the audience a unique concert experience. The ensemble is under the direction of Juri de Marco and since its debut concert in RADIALSYSTEM V Berlin in October 2015 has performed with a variety of productions on various stages in Germany (including Konzerthaus Berlin, Elbphilharmonie, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival i.a.). The musicians belong to a generation of artists that combines classical music, improvisation and jazz at the highest artistic level. Their inspiration lies in developing a new performance practice that does not limit itself to reproduction and in seeking new concert formats.
With the founding project #freebeethoven, the STEGREIF.orchestra showed for the first what classical music can look like today: With musicians of all backgrounds playing and improvising by heart and completely without a conductor, via free arrangements of symphonic music. The Stegreif e.V. was founded in December 2015. At the beginning of the next year, under the artistic direction of Juri de Marco, the formation #freesextett toured Germany. They made a name for themselves nationwide and met important future partners, especially at festivals and projects - including composer Wolf Kerschek, director Theresa von Halle, trumpeter Markus Stockhausen. They all support and inspire the ensemble, with success. At the end of the year, the second major project #freeschubert celebrated its premiere, and the STEGREIF.orchestra subsequently went on tour with it. In January 2017, the musicians* played a benefit concert for Syria, traveled to the Classical Next festival in Rotterdam and developed workshop formats for children, young people and refugees. In addition, the ensemble played at the opening of the exhibition space "FUTURIUM" in September and organized a musical flash mob at the Brandenburg Gate together with a choir, a rapper and a soul singer. In November, the ensemble received its first major award with the Startup Music Prize Berlin. The next idea was born: the development of a techno symphony. In April 2018, #freebrahms finally experienced its premiere at the sold-out Berlin Konzerthaus. After Beethoven and Schubert, the orchestra now varied Johannes Brahms' third symphony. Since the premiere Stegreif has toured Germany with the program and played at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, among other venues. The next award soon followed as well: the Würth Prize of Jeunesses Musicales Germany. Parallel to #freebrahms, the orchestra developed a three-year cooperation model with the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and the Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie: the TRIKESTRA project. These three Berlin-based theaters with different backgrounds joined forces to close the gap between the independent scene and the institutions again. And the orchestra is also tapping into digital spaces: in spring 2019, they released the first episode of their YouTube series plural, funded as part of the "Ooorchestra" project by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
By running this digital education channel, the orchestra not only wants to contribute to a profound change in the performance practice of adolescent (professional) musicians*, but above all to provide young audiences with a new approach to classical music. Three seasons of the innovative video series were produced as part of the multi-year project. In the same year, the orchestra once again dedicated itself to the first independent composer in the history of classical music and his third symphony: Ludwig van Beethoven's "Eroica" focuses entirely on the French Revolution and its values. The STEGREIF.orchester's adaptation, more than 200 years later, celebrated its premiere on July 27, 2019. The production has performed at venues including the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and Bad Urach. However, the international orchestra continues to focus geographically on Berlin. This is also where the orchestra's first opera production, "GIOVANNI.Eine Passion," premiered in October 2020 in cooperation with the Neuköllner Oper. The acclaimed project, directed by Ulrike Schwab and musically conducted by Juri de Marco, opened up new perspectives on Mozart's great, mythical figure and blurred the boundaries between instrumentalists and singers. At the beginning of the Corona pandemic, the orchestra developed its fifth major production #bfree, as part of the #beethoven project as a contribution to the Beethoven Year 2020. Inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the "European Symphony", the STEGREIF.orchestra combines folk songs from Europe with elements from Beethoven's monumental work and lets Europe grow together in a symphony into a colorful country that tells from the heart of the people. The production was able to premiere at the Düsseldorf Festival in the summer of 2020 despite the pandemic situation. The orchestra used the restrictions imposed by the Corona pandemic to play in digital spaces and, funded by the government's commissioner for culture and media, to develop new concert concepts that focus on audience interaction and 360° experiences beyond the confines of screens. This resulted in the digitally premiered productions #freemahler and #exploremozart, which are now finding their way onto analog stages in Germany. On Aug. 21, 2021, the orchestra opened the Welcome Back Week at the Berlin Philharmonie together with the Jazzrausch Bigband and Nils Landgren and was proud to present the production #bfree in front of a sold-out house.
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