New Year's concert inspires

Fulminant musical prelude

The "festival:philharmonie westfalen" once again thrilled a sold-out audience at the New Year's concert in Beckum's municipal theatre, with a great sound and excellent quality and variety.

Video with the mayor conducting

Under the direction of Viennese conductor Michael Zlabinger, the orchestra, which is made up of musicians from over 20 nations, played timeless waltzes from the Viennese Strauss dynasty, lively polkas and rousing marches. Another highlight of the concert was the performance of the celebrated violinist József Lendvay, who mesmerised the audience with his rendition of Niccolò Paganini's "La campanella". The musical start to the year also delighted Mayor Michael Gerdhenrich, who had brought his baton with him from the last New Year's concert and conducted "Unter Donner und Blitz" by Johann Strauss.

The New Year's Concert opened with Bedrich Smetana's rousing overture to the opera "The Bartered Bride", which transported the audience into the world of classical opera with its lively melodies and cheerful rhythms. Works by Joseph Strauss and Niccolo Paganini are followed by several pieces by Johann Strauss Sohn, the 19th century Austrian composer also known as the "Waltz King", whose outstanding talent enriched the world with a multitude of waltzes, polkas and operettas.

The programme began after the interval with a potpourri of world-famous marches, quadrilles and waltzes. The official part of the programme ended with the timeless masterpiece "Tales from the Vienna Woods". However, the musicians were only allowed to leave the stage after four encores. Standing ovations and never-ending applause showed the enthusiasm of the audience and honoured the skills of the performers.

Next year, fans of classical music can once again look forward to an unforgettable concert experience: on 19 January 2025, the festival:philharmonie westfalen will once again make a guest appearance at the Beckum Municipal Theatre.

Further information on the festival:philharmonie westfalen can be found at


  • Conductor Michael Zlabinger
    Since May 2022, Zlabinger has been Chief Conductor of the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" based in Borken.
    With his debut at the Teatro Real Madrid in May 2018, Michael Zlabinger made reception history as the youngest conductor to conduct a performance of Bernd Alois Zimmermann's "Die Soldaten" - previously at the Salzburg Festival (2012), Zurich Opera House (2013) and La Scala in Milan (2015). This milestone in his career continued a constant exploration of 20th century opera, which had already found expression in his work on "Lady Macbeth" from Mtsensk at the Vienna State Opera (2015), "Salome" at the Teatro Carlo Felice (2016) and "Elektra" as part of the opening of the new opera house in Athens (2017), among others. In the current season, following a guest performance of Arnold Schönberg's "Pierrot lunaire" at the Holland Festival 2021, Michael Zlabinger conducted Peter Maxwell Davies' "The Lighthouse" with Klangforum Wien and under the direction of Marlene Monteiro Freitas at the Vienna Chamber Opera and also made a guest appearance with the Munich Radio Orchestra. Further engagements will take him to a concert series with the festival:philarmonie Westfalen and to the Festival international d'art lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence for a new production of Richard Strauss' "Salome". In January 2022, he also made his debut with Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" at the Theater an der Wien.
    After his first engagement at Zurich Opera House as musical assistant to Christoph von Dohnányi for Schönberg's Moses und Aron (2011), Michael Zlabinger stepped in for the world premiere of Marius Felix Lange's opera "Das Gespenst von Canterville" in November 2013 and subsequently conducted the ballet evening Notations, the adventure opera Robin Hood by Frank Schwemmer and the ballet Woyzeck (choreography: Christian Spuck). He also demonstrated his experience in working with choirs as choir director ad interim in spring 2016. In April 2015, he made his debut at the Daegu Opera House in South Korea with Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, followed two years later by Mozart's Così fan tutte. Michael Zlabinger has worked with conductors such as Fabio Luisi, Ingo Metzmacher, Kent Nagano and Ralf Weikert as musical assistant with the Berlin Philharmonic, the DSO Berlin for Schönberg's "Jakobsleiter", the DR SymfoniOrkestret Copenhagen, the Bavarian State Opera, the Hamburg State Opera and the Vienna State Opera. At the Grand Théatre de Genève, he was also responsible for the production of Richard Wagner's "Ring des Nibelungen" (2013/14); Wagner's oeuvre had already become a major focus of Zlabinger's repertoire through his work on Parsifal, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde and Tannhäuser.
    Parallel to his training at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Zlabinger completed several years of private study in historical performance practice with Manfred Huss (including as an ensemble member of the Haydn Sinfonietta Vienna) and conducting in the style of Hans Swarowsky and took part in masterclasses with Bernard Haitink and Pierre Boulez. His formative involvement with works of Viennese classical music - especially the great mass compositions of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert - has enabled him to expand his repertoire with the Viennese church music ensemble Chor und Camerata Mariabrunn, which he conducts, to include a large part of the repertoire of sacred music, from Bach's St John Passion to Bruckner's masses.
    A busy concert schedule has taken the conductor to Belgium, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria and other countries. He has travelled to Belgium, Holland, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Switzerland and Slovakia, where he has conducted the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Strings, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta sinfónica de Las Palmas, the Košice State Symphony Orchestra, the Filarmonia Oltenia and the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice on the occasion of the Premio Paganini. Michael Zlabinger has also been associated with the Orquesta sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador as a guest conductor since 2018.

The "festival:philharmonie westfalen"

  • The "festival:philharmonie westfalen" is the orchestra of the "musik:landschaft westfalen" and brought together highly talented students and graduates from universities and conservatories around the world in Borken for the first time in summer 2012 as part of the "penderecki musik:akademie westfalen" (at that time still under the name "M:LW Festival Philharmonie"). The young musicians studied with Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the most important composers and conductors of our time, in three summer academies in Borken. In 2014, the acclaimed Krzysztof Penderecki celebrated his 80th birthday and took this as an opportunity to go on a short anniversary tour with his "festival:philharmonie".
    In the tradition of the "penderecki musik:akademie westfalen", the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" has been coming together every year since then for the "musik:landschaft westfalen" summer festival to form a new temporary ensemble. Each festival season includes different musical projects. This year, for example, the programme for the musicians of the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" included performances with Gunter Emmerlich and Eva Lind at the "Opera Gala", the "Hollywood Night of Film Music", the continuation of the successful "HÖHNER Philharmonics" project and several stroll concerts in unusual parks and gardens.
    The musical and cultural commitment of the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" was complemented in 2018 by the major New Year's tour, which has been a permanent fixture of the "musik:landschaft westfalen" ever since. The tour always kicks off with the New Year's Eve concert in Bergkamen on 31 December. This is followed in January by numerous annual performances by the orchestra in various cities in Westphalia. Inspired by the New Year's concerts in the golden Musikvereinssaal in Vienna, the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" presents a colourful potpourri of prominent pieces as part of its New Year's tour - including well-known waltzes, fiery polkas and cheerful marches from the famous Strauss dynasty.
    The "festival:philharmonie westfalen" is an international orchestra and consists of around 45 young musicians from a wide range of nations, who perform in changing line-ups. At each of their performances, the artists, who play together in harmony, impressively demonstrate how much music unites people - across all borders.

The "festival:philharmonie westfalen" is also conducted in a changing structure:

In recent years, the orchestra has performed under the conductors Krzysztof Penderecki, Maciej Tworek, Ingo Ernst Reihl, Carlos Dominguez Nieto, Otto Schily, Justus Frantz and Martin Panteleev. The "festival:philharmonie westfalen" is currently conducted by Michael Zlabinger from Vienna.

Over the past ten years, the "festival:philharmonie westfalen" has been a guest in numerous cities and communities in the Westphalia region and beyond.

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