Before open-air season lures us into its cradle of euphoric escapism, two indoor festivals invite us to indulge in a little more brain-heavy fun. From May 5-7, laptops share the Radialsystem V stage with percussion instruments of all varieties for the latest brainchild of Berlin electronic musician Hanno Leichtmann: Syn/Cussion, aptly named after the 1979 drum-synthesizer Syncussion SY1. Local electro scene faves such as Thomas Ankersmit and Jan Jelinek join forces with internationally renowned percussionists like John McEntire, Will Guthrie, Lê Quan Ninh, Martin Brandlmayr and composer Sven-Åke Johansson to “hammer out” mostly exclusive performances, plus after-show DJ sets and a sound installation.
Meanwhile, under new artistic direction by professors Markus Groh and Konstantin Heidrich, the Universität der Künste’s classical music festival Crescendo celebrates its ninth edition from May 5-20. This year, they turn the spotlight on one of the most contentious figures in German music, opening with an ambitious 75-minute condensed version of Wagner’s 16-hour Ring Cycle. The solely instrumental concert will be accompanied by a video created by Ai Weiwei student Catalina Gomez Alvarez, visually examining the composer’s questionable worldview. Other highlights of the 15-day festival include a retrospective of Japanese composer Isang Yun to mark his 100th birthday (May 7), an emphasis on the Gründerzeit (May 10, 17), as well as plenty of chamber music and master classes for curious parties. And if you think a bit of musical education would do your little brats any good, the Crescendo spin-off Crescendino awaits with sandbox concerts and other kid-friendly edutainment.
Syn/Cussion, May 5-7 | Radialsystem V, Friedrichshain
Crescendo, May 5-20 | Various venues, check udk-berlin.de for details