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Sinfonikerschiff (c) Frank Höhler

Sinfonikerschiff (c) Frank Hoehler


Dresdner Sinfoniker – Panzerkreuzer Potemkin

“The Dresdner Sinfoniker are amongst the leading symphony orchestras for contemporary music. The ensemble’s productions-which feature musicians from almost every important European orchestra - have received numerous awards (including the UNESCO special prize “Welthorizont” and the ECHO for classical music). Yet the quality of the musicians is not strictly confined to musical excellence. The Dresdner Sinfoniker are a laboratory for multimedia projects, making sounds visible and colours audible. Their recording conditions are always exceptional: instead of sitting in an orchestra pit, the orchestra might be seated on the balconies of an industrialized apartment block (Hochhaussinfonie, 2006); or the conductor, instead of standing in front of his musicians, is broadcast live, like a hologram from another world (Erstes Ferndirigat der Welt, 2008).

The Dresdner Sinfoniker lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall; it is therefore no coincidence that they not only want to forge new creative passages between different artistic domains but also to tear down walls, such as those between Israel and Palestine (Symphony for Palestine, 2013), Turkey and Armenia (Aghet, 2015), Russia and Ukraine (Panzerkreuzer Potemkin, 2018). The Dresdner Sinfoniker’s big open-air events, featuring large screen projections and live improvisation, are complex “musical scores of events” (Ferdinand Kriwet). They have the artistic power to make audiences sit up and take notice.”

The Panzerkreuzer Potemkin project

There are steps – a huge open stairway both reaching for the sky and plunging into the depths of the Black Sea. A phalanx of Cossack boots marches down, with rifles slung over their arms, unavoidable, menacing. Then the tsarist troops open fire on the people whose sympathies lie with the mutineers of the Battleship Potemkin. People plummet down the steps, and then that pram as it slips agonisingly slowly from the grasp of a dying mother, gaining speed until it ultimately keels over, and then Cut: This is the expressive montage technique with which Sergei Eisenstein elevated Odessa's leading landmark to the status of the probably most famous stairway in the world in his immortal film Battleship Potemkin, transforming the steps into the embodiment of a desire for freedom and fraternity.

Eisenstein wanted every generation to create its own soundtrack inspired by these screamingly silent images. For our generation, this call was answered by the Pet Shop Boys. Their global hit Go West featured elements from the Soviet national anthem, while the video showed men in uniform marching along a seemingly endless stairway – but this time marching skywards and into the arms of the American Statue of Liberty!

Joining forces with the Dresdner Sinfoniker – one of Europe's leading orchestras for New Music and whose work has been awarded several prizes such as the "Welthorizont" (World Horizon) by UNESCO for their cross-genre, boundary-breaking projects – the avant-gardists of electropop created a unique sound that has acted as the musical backdrop for the acclaimed film Battleship Potemkin on a number of occasions: starting with Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, which for the first time ever in its history was cordoned off for a concert given by the British duo and the Dresden-based orchestra in 2004; and again in 2006 for the "Hochhaussinfonie" (High-rise Symphony) on Prager Strasse in Dresden – a place forever linked with the Velvet Revolution of 1989 – where the conductor, perched on a high crane, remotely conducted the orchestra on the balconies of Germany's longest residential tower block. And in the summer of 2018, this amazing spectacle will finally return to the place of its birth, to Odessa.

"Global Healing Music", as espoused by the Pet Shop Boys and the Dresdner Sinfoniker, is totally in tune with this city's colourful mixture of various ethnic groups – a metropolis where Greek merchants once plied their trade on illustrious seaside boulevards and dandified gang kingpins struck terror into people's hearts, as outlined by Isaac Babel in his "Tales of Odessa". Occupied by the Germans from 1941-1944, Ukrainian independence was finally achieved following the era of Soviet rule.

Set against the backdrop of this mythical city which is steeped in history, the Потьомкінські східці, or Potemkin Stairs, offers a natural tribune for this world theatre – a huge show stage at the foot of the stairs: Eisenstein's famous crowd scenes projected onto a big screen. The Pet Shop Boys marching down the Potemkin Stairs. Transforming it into a stage stairway, all the action set against a magnificent tapestry of sound delivered by German, Ukrainian and Russian musicians.

When the pram once again rolls down the steps in the present-day, maybe it will be possible to catch the baby?

Highlights 2017/2018

31.3./2.4./3.4.  I EXIST to Rajasthan (Dresden, Berlin, Munich)
June 2017 Mexico Tournee
June 17th WUT, Concertperformance (Frauenkirche Dresden)
November 2017      Orpheus & Du Liniang, Dresden 
Spring 2018 Mediation project Peace me up (Ukraine, Serbia, Germany) 
Fall 2018 Gewas – The lost oasis, Project with African Musicians (Germany, Burkina Faso)

Target Groups

Age: 20–70 years
Education: High level of education with a large number of academics
Income: Average to high income
Target groups: Liberal intellectuals, high achievers, movers and shakers and established conservatives

Funding sources

Institutional support: Landeshauptstadt Dresden, the Cultural Foundation Dresden of the Dresdner Bank

_Contributions from foundations: Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Creative Europe, Hauptstadtkulturfonds, Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen, Fonds SozioKultur, Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung, German Federal Foreign Office, Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung, Goethe Institut, Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Mexico)
_Sponsoring: Lufthansa, Neumann & Müller, KronSegler Glashütte, Radeberger, Lichtenauer
_Revenue: ticket fees

Media partners

arte, mdr, Deutschlandradio Kultur


Legal structure: charitable association
Founding year: 1997
Activity sphere: worldwide
Visitors per year: 50,000
Productions per year: 2–3
Number of employees: Full-time: 1, Temporary: 4, Honorary: 4
Annual turnover: ca. 500,000 EUR
  • Dresdner Sinfoniker (c) Thomas Aurin
  • Dresdner Sinfoniker (c) Sabine Grüner
  • Erstes Ferndirigat der Welt (c) Frank Hoehler
  • Hasretim (c) Filip Zorzor
  • Hochhaussinfonie (c) Joern Haufe
  • Waltz with Bashir (c) Mila Teshaieva
  • Winners Paris (c) Sabine Gruener