Germany’s Kronberg Academy has kicked off its 2022 Kronberg Festival, in conjunction with the opening of its new venue
The Kronberg Academy, in Kronberg, Germany, has this week opened its new venue, the Casals Forum. Complete with two concert halls with state-of-the-art acoustics, plus an adjoining study and administration center, the new building marks the start of a new era at the institution.
VC recently had the chance to catch up with Raimund Trenkler, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Kronberg Academy Foundation, to discuss what the new addition means to the academy.
When the Kronberg Academy was founded in 1993, what was the original mission of the institution?
On one hand, the mission was to bring together the most talented young artists at Kronberg and support them on their way to professional careers.
On the other, Kronberg was founded on the idea that we can make an impact in our society. We see music as something more than a wonderous and joyful art form. I think as musicians, it’s our duty to see what we can do for our society to make this world a little better.
At Kronberg’s founding, Pablo Casals was our role model. Everything started in 1993 on October 22nd, which was the 20th anniversary of Pablo Casal’s death.
How do you think the Kronberg Academy has grown and expanded over the decades?
We started with the cello. I’m originally a cellist, and so Kronberg started as a cello family. Cellist and conductor Mr. Mstislav Rostropovich called Kronberg “the world capital of the cello.” The group of musicians eventually expanded to a family of all string players from the string field as a whole.
This month, you’re celebrating the opening of the Casals Forum, which includes a beautiful concert hall that fits 600 people. Can you tell us what it means to you personally?
It means that the Kronberg Academy has a home. We were originally divided into several buildings, but now we are united in one place. It is exciting to have a central location that is both professional and beautiful.
It is a dream come true. With the completion of the Casals Forum and its exciting opening, it went from an idea to a realization. I feel grateful that Kronberg can give the music and its wonderful musicians a home.
What do you think the Casals Forum means to the Kronberg Academy’s students?
I think for the students, it gives additional opportunities to make tapes or recordings, to always have the possibility to work and practice, and to develop professional standards. It is also inspiring for the students to see the whole Kronberg family come together in this one building.
Can you tell us about the features and innovations of the new venue, and the extensive work done to optimize the acoustics?
It was a larger undertaking. We tried to finalize the acoustics so that not only could a solo cellist playing a Bach suite sound perfect, but also the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which is roughly 65 musicians. While this is not an easy feat, we have the ability to change the acoustics depending on who is playing and the makeup of the ensemble. We are thrilled that it worked out, and you could definitely hear it at our opening concert.
What do you hope this new venue will bring to the Kronberg Academy?
I think this new venue will be an attraction for other artists. It will also be a great resource for our wonderful musicians working here.
The Casals Forum will create new ideas and give us new opportunities. For example, artists can now work with orchestras directly at the Kronberg Academy. This was not possible before, as we would often rent other halls, which was quite the difficult task.
What are your long goals for the Kronberg Academy?
Our next milestone will be a student dormitory being built on the site. It will complete our music campus so that the students can live, learn, practice, and perform on stage with renowned artists.
The plan is that, hopefully, the student dormitory can open its doors in 2025. This will be another exciting moment for all of us and a further step ahead for Kronberg Academy.
How important is a musician’s environment to their performance, career success, etc?
When we think about an environment, it is not only the building. We have to consider the surroundings as a whole. Kronberg, for one thing, is easy to reach — the train station is 200 meters. It is more or less in the middle of a beautiful park.
It is so important, as artists and musicians, to have the opportunity and environment to contemplate. So many things in our life are automated and sped up, but one needs ample time and peace to contemplate a Beethoven sonata.
It’s important to understand that artists need more than just a perfect building and rooms. They need a setting that supports communication and makes its visitors feel safe. In general, an environment should inspire creation and productiveness, and we hope that is what the new Kronberg Academy accomplishes.
The city of Kronberg seems to fully embrace the Kronberg Academy and its musical culture. Can you tell us about the role in which the community plays?
The community is fully involved. For example, close to 200 young cellists are here right now and are mostly put up in private houses around the city. It’s wonderful that, over the 29 years, society is enjoying the festival and institution. I think that the musicians who come here have the feeling of being at home.
How did the Kronberg Academy adapt to COVID-19 and its negative impacts on the music industry? What are you looking forward to now that things are getting closer to normal?
We tried to go forward in these difficult times. Like many others, we used online techniques for teaching.
What we are focused most on now is welcoming the live audience back. I see that in several places, this task seems to be difficult, but luckily we don’t have to worry too much at the moment. I’m happy to report that most of the concerts are sold out, so we are positive for what’s to come.
From the pandemic, I think we were given an understanding of why music is so important for our society.
Lastly, can you name a favorite memory of yours at the Kronberg Academy?
That’s tough. Of course, there are so many special moments. I never will forget, in the beginning, my first conversation in Washington with Marta Casals Istomin — and how happy I was to receive her confidence in the institution’s mission. It was a strong push for me to go forward and start the Kronberg Academy.
Additionally, all of the wonderful moments with Mstislav Leopoldovich, who become really a friend, have proved to be a great inspiration.
All the wonderful artists who come here time and time again are an inspiration for me as well. There are very private moments, that I hold dear in my heart and will never forget.
To view the concert schedule for the 2022 Kronberg Festival, click here.