5th April (Friday), 19:00, BNR, Concert Studio – THE BLUE PIANO


(radio opera)
[world premiere concert performance]

Music by

Libretto by

soprano / female prisoner

soprano / female prisoner

piano & percussion

piano & percussion

Voice & percussion / male side

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This concert has been made possible
thanks to the generous support of:




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Sincere thanks go to
Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater Görlitz-Zittau
and to the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk,
Studio Görlitz,
for their collaboration.

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The Performers

Véronique Nosbaum is a very special personality in the Luxembourg vocal scenery. She is one of those who are by nature involved in the creation of many kinds of art – contemporary art, theatre, literature and singing.
A graduate of Modern French Literature from the Sorbonne, the Luxembourg soprano studied singing with Greta de Reyghere in Liège before taking classes with Monique Zanetti, Mireille Kayser and Hubert Weller, as well as master classes with Sylvia Geszty, Klesie Kelly and Norman Shetler. After a scholarship at the Pisa Opera House, she played solo roles in the operas of Gluck, Mozart and Purcell in Pisa, Lucca and Liège, as well as in contemporary productions at the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, where she is a regular collaborator.
Véronique Nosbaum, whose repertoire focuses on ancient and contemporary music, performs at festivals and in concert halls throughout Europe. A skilled singer-actress, she is also frequently asked to work with theatre companies.
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Milla Mihova – soprano – has graduated from the “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” National Academy of Music in Sofia. She has also studied with the Bulgarian prima Darina Takova and specialised with Mariella Devia and Raina Kabaivanska. In 2013, she won a scholarship from the “Boris Christoff” Foundation for the opera studio at the National Academy of St Cecilia in Rome, where she specialised with Renata Scotto. She was finalist at the “Magda Olivero” International Competition (Milan, 2013) and at the “Giulio Neri” International Competition (Torrita di Siena, Italy, 2014).
In 2015, she took part in the project Cabaret Baroque with performances of Baroque and contemporary opera excerpts. In August 2015, she made her debut at the Operosa Opera Festival in Herceg Novi (Montenegro) as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. In December 2015, she performed the soprano solo in Beethoven’s ninth symphony with the Orquestra de Câmara de Cascais e Oeiras. In 2017, she performed the vocal music of composer Gheorghi Arnaoudov, for which she was nominated for the Musician of the Year award. In 2018, she made her debut at the prestigious Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Later that year, she performed the soprano solo in Rossini's Petite messe solennelle at the Le Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne in Paris as part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death. In 2019, she participated in the Sunday concerts of France Musique radio in Paris.
She has performed in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Luxembourg. In Bulgaria, she has participated in leading festivals such as Sofia Music Weeks, March Music Days, ppIANISSIMO, Piano extravaganza, New Year’s Music Festival at the National Palace of Culture and the International Mozart Festival in Pravets. Her repertoire includes bel canto roles, oratorio works and a great amount of rarely performed chamber music.
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Borislava Taneva is a pianist, composer, pedagogue, chamber musician and organiser of musical events. Her active participation in the contemporary cultural life in Bulgaria and abroad defines her as a successful multi-talented musician.
She has been a laureate of national and international piano, chamber music and composition competitions in Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and Japan. She has given multiple recitals in Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Israel, France, Macedonia, Spain, etc.
Currently, Taneva is a professor of piano and pedagogical practice as well as Vice Rector of Artistic Activity and International Affairs of the “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” National Academy of Music in Sofia. Her students have been awarded with prizes from national and international forums and competitions. She has given master classes and participated in seminars on various topics at music colleges and conservatories in Athens, Тhessaloniki, Geneva, Luxembourg, Madrid, Singapore, Paris, Catania and Brasília. She has appeared as a jury member in national and international piano competitions in Greece, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Bulgaria.
In 2014, she was awarded the Golden Pen award for outstanding contribution to Bulgarian culture and art. In 2015, she was awarded the Crystal Lyre, and in 2016 the award of the Bulgarian National Radio Musician of the Year for artistic activities.
Borislava Taneva is the founder and a member of the Swiss-Bulgarian Association of Culture (SBAC). Since 2016, she is also a Co-President of the ppIANISSIMO Foundation. From 2019, she is the artistic director of the International Mozart Festival in Pravets.
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Romain Nosbaum is an individualist among the pianists of his generation. Without airs and graces, but with modesty and passionate devotion, he is solely focused on music. Neither grand gestures, nor sheer brilliancy have meaning to him – instead, his playing stands out through intelligence, subtle individuality and technical perfection. A universal interest in “tradition and innovation” expresses itself not only in being a soloist, but also through activities as a passionate chamber musician. Thus, he regularly performs as an accompanist with vocal artists such as his sister Véronique Nosbaum.
Musicality was literally put into the cradle of Swiss-born Romain. His grandmother, who was also a pianist, met artists such as Alfred Cortot or Clara Haskil and performed under the direction of Felix Weingartner. Romain started to play the piano at the age of 7 and completed his studies at the conservatories of the city of Luxembourg and Metz. Advanced studies led him to the Basel Music Academy, the conservatory of Bern and to the Mozarteum University of Salzburg.
In recitals, as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, Romain Nosbaum’s concerts have led him throughout Europe and Russia to East Asia. His solo recordings have received critical acclaim and have been especially praised for both the personal interpretation of the Romantic repertoire and his sense for and the varied shaping of contemporary music. After two self-published solo albums (2010 and 2014), he recorded the integral piano works of composer Albena Petrovic Vratchanska for the label Gega New in 2016. In 2017, he released his solo CD Encores under the label ARS Production.
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The Composer

Albena Petrovic Vratchanska (b. 1965) got her Master’s Degree in Composition and concert pianist diploma from the “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” National Academy of Music in Sofia. Since 1996, she has been living in Luxembourg, where she studied contemporary compositional techniques and computer music with Claude Lenners. She has written more than 600 works in various music genres, some of them published by Schott Music International, Luxembourg Music Publishers, Éditions de l’octanphare and Furore Verlag.
In 2001, she composed the music for the musical book Wann de Piano rose gëtt (The Angry Piano), published by CID Femmes and Edition PHI. In 2007, her composition Gladius for electric guitar and instrumental ensemble was commissioned for the Cultural Year in Luxembourg and the Greater Region. At the same time, she was given the Cultural Award 2007 from the Municipality of Hesperange. That same year, she was also a jury member of the “Valentino Bucchi” International Composition Competition in Rome. The premiere of her instrumental theatre piece Le retour des papillons (The Return of Butterflies) – a multidisciplinary project with original music, pantomime, light effects and video elements – took place in the Hall of Luxembourg Philharmonic in 2010. The year 2011 was dedicated to a complex pedagogical project – the musical theatre for children The Bunny in Love and an illustrated musical book with a CD. In 2016, her first opera The Dark was performed in Luxembourg to great success. Subsequently, she worked on other opera projects.
In 2016, she realised the internationally acclaimed monographic CD Crystal Dream (Gega New) with piano works of her performed by Luxembourg pianist Romain Nosbaum. In 2019, her CD The Voyager (Solo Musica) received three nominations for the Opus Klassik Award.
Her works have been performed in Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Russia and the USA.
She is president and founder of the International Composition Competition Artistes en Herbe (Budding Artists) under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Luxembourg.
Albena Petrovic Vratchanska is Knight of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

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The Librettist

Matthias Theodor Vogt (b. 1959) combines in his work practice of the arts with their theories and with truly international social commitment.
He was born in Rome and studied cello under Nikolaus Uhlenhut in Basel and Atis Teichmanis in Freiburg, as well as Theatrical Arts and Musicology in Munich, Paris and Berlin. He has worked at the Salzburg Festival, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Venice Biennale, the Rousse State Opera in Bulgaria, the Moscow Operetta, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and the Acquario Romano in Rome. He has collaborated with prominent composers as Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen in the world premieres of Prometeo, Un Re in Ascolto (A King Listens) and Samstag (Saturday) from the opera cycle Licht: Die sieben Tage der Woche (Light: The Seven Days of the Week). From 1986 to 1989, he was Director of the Press Department at the Bayreuth Festival.
Since 1983, Vogt has been giving lectures in German, English, French and Italian, mainly in Europe, Japan, Cameroun and in the United States. Since 1994, he has been acting as the director of the Saxonian Institute for Cultural Infrastructure. Since 1997, he has been Professor for Cultural Policy at the Zittau/Görlitz University. In 2012, Vogt was awarded an honorary professorship of the University of Pécs. In 2014, he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his contributions to German-Polish cooperation. In 2016, he was proposed as a candidate to the Federal President of Germany. In 2017, he was awarded the title of doctor iuris honoris causa by the Ilia State University for his contribution to Cultural Laws.
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The Work

The Blue Piano, a composition by Albena Petrovic Vratchanska with scenario by Matthias Theodor Vogt, shows the power of music even in the most difficult of circumstances.
It was inspired by the tragedy of two female artists in the middle of the 20th century. The lady pianists were victims of the German-Soviet Pact. In this pact, Stalin and Hitler aimed to divide Europe among themselves, united in their common contempt for humanity and human dignity. Vera Lautard-Shevchenko (1901 1982) was a French prisoner in the Gulag archipelago in Siberia, where she had no piano at hand and had to play imaginary sounds on a wooden board. Alice Herz Sommer (1903 2014) was concentrated in Theresienstadt because of her Jewish background. There she had to perform in the dark comedy with which the National Socialists wanted to make the world believe that concentration camps were a good place to live. We know from the memories of Vera Lautard-Shevchenko and Alice Herz Sommer that both were carried by their faith in music and were saved from despair.
At the centre of this radio opera is the female side with its asymmetrical rhythms and a complex, heteronomous concept of flow. The function of the male side with its less complex, symmetrical rhythms is to give the female side contrast and background; it makes us understand the sinister world in which the female pianists had to live. The title of the work pays homage to Else Lasker-Schüler (1869 – 1945), who in Zurich, in 1937, described her blue puppet piano as a symbol of her lost childhood before going into exile in Jerusalem.
Matthias Theodor Vogt

This work deals with a universal and humanistic theme which gave me the source of inspiration and reflection for a non-conventional artistic approach. The blue piano here is a symbol of freedom and hope; it’s a dream, not a reality. The main idea of the libretto is how dark forces can break life, happiness and dreams. Such dark forces broke the destiny of those two female pianists, being at the wrong place in the wrong moment, inside the whirlwind of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century. Stalin or Hitler, both dictators, are only the arms of the dark forces. The 20th century and the whole human history is full of broken destinies and broken dreams.
The music, especially the piano itself, keeps the victims alive. This is how the historical protagonists Vera Lautard-Shevchenko and Alice Herz Sommer survived the horrors of the Holocaust. The work sets a dramatic opposition between the most complex tragedy of female living in the first decades of the 20th century and male oppression and simplification of the world. 
The Blue Piano is planned as a non-staged radio opera but with the possibility to be performed in a concert version, which could give more force to the deep message of human tragedy and human resistance.
Albena Petrovic Vratchanska