Artistic direction & Programme Group

Programme planning in Teamwork

Gerhard Sammer

Artistic director and conductor

Born in Innsbruck, he studied music, instrumental pedagogy and maths/computer science at the Mozarteum University and the University of Innsbruck as well as conducting at the Tyrolean State Conservatory.

In addition to his teaching activities as a secondary school teacher, he completed a choral conducting training programme, numerous work shadowing placements and attended conducting masterclasses. Before obtaining his doctorate, he was a research assistant at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.

Since 2004, Sammer has been a professor and dean of studies (2005-2020) at the University of Music Würzburg, from 2015-2019 he served as president of the European Association for Music in Schools (EAS), since 2020 he has been a board member of the European accreditation agency MusiQuE and held a visiting professorship at the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano / Faculty of Education Brixen/Bressanone (2020-2023).

He is the founder and artistic director of the Tyrolean chamber orchestra InnStrumenti, publishes and speaks at international conferences, works as a recording director for the ORF, is a member of the Tyrolean Music Advisory Board and worked in the same position for the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

As artistic director and conductor of the Tyrolean Chamber Orchestra InnStrumenti, he has premiered more than 200 orchestral works and made numerous radio recordings and CD productions.

Programme planning

In order to meet the high demands of the Tyrolean Chamber Orchestra InnStrumenti in terms of programme design, programme planning is a team effort. In regular meetings of the so-called programme group, the cornerstones of the upcoming concert programmes are intensively discussed and finalised. The annual programme is characterised by specific programme formats that have evolved over the years.

The programme group consists of the following people:

  • Werner Hangl
  • Gerhard Sammer
  • Thomas Steinbrucker
  • Klaus Telfser
  • Stephanie Treichl
  • Klex Wolf

Concert formats

Orchestra goes mountain, you could say, or you could also call it an alpine-urban cultural event with a unique selling point. The Tyrolean chamber orchestra InnStrumenti ventures to special heights every year for this very special classical open air. In 2024, the concert will take place at an altitude of 2340 metres (Axamer Lizum)! The cultural area will thus be extended into the high mountains: In the special atmosphere high up on the mountain, the orchestra presents a stylistically broad programme that always includes a crossover as a special accent: most recently, the orchestra has performed with a tango quintet, with a jazz ensemble, with a ‘new folk music’ ensemble, and so on. An outstanding young soloist is always part of the programme.

The title of this concert format is deliberately ambiguous: Stimmen in unserer Zeit (Voices in our time) stands for the inclusion of vocal performances by soloists or choirs as well as sacred or socio-political themes. Most recently, four world premieres were presented in 2023 under the motto ‘Future’. In 2024, this concert in the sacred space will build bridges between new (sacred) music and ‘older’ music.

With Young Soloists on the Podium, the orchestra of a transnational concert initiative in Tyrol and South Tyrol focuses on outstanding young soloists and young ensembles from different stages of life. The programme places particular emphasis on a wide stylistic range. A special feature of this project is the targeted commissioning of compositions, which achieves several goals, such as an expansion and renewal of the repertoire with new music for orchestra, but also especially for instrumental lessons, and the encounter / collaboration of composers of our time with young musicians: Composers recognise the potential of young musicians, while at the same time the musicians experience how exciting it can be to engage with new music.

The concept of InnStrumenti’s New Year’s concerts is based on the aspects that we believe are behind the special fascination of these concerts: The curious energy of a new beginning, a positive affirmation of life, paired with a certain lightness and hope as well as a strong breeze of humour and self-irony are bundled in a musical programme that is stylistically very broad, from music of the Viennese classical period to the present, from the avant-garde to popular music. Rather short pieces, numerous one-year operas, including many rarities, are combined with an intellectually challenging and inspiring presentation that makes references to literature and socio-political cabaret. Added to this are singing, acrobatics and dance, creating an almost intoxicating overall result that hopefully charges people with a lot of positive energy.’

Music with its finger on the pulse and thematic focus is at the centre of this concert format, which is usually presented as a world premiere concert. Established and young composers with a broad sound spectrum find equal space here and we don’t let anyone dictate to us what new music should or may be! The focus is on composers who have their centre of life in Austria or South Tyrol.

Masterpieces of classical and romantic orchestral music with selected, outstanding soloists take centre stage here.

The interdisciplinary event series klang_sprachen aims to interweave contemporary music and poetry, and InnStrumenti has already collaborated with the most renowned poets in the German-speaking world. In June 2024, the innovative project will continue with the collaboration between the Tyrolean chamber orchestra InnStrumenti and the W:ORTE poetry festival. Texts by Gerhard Ruiss form the starting point for the 8th edition under the motto ‘Weltlagen-Revue’. The writer becomes part of the chamber orchestra’s performance – is it then a reading or a concert? It is both, or something completely new, because language is given new perspectives through the new sonic context. Six composers were commissioned especially for this evening to create new pieces of music and to relate music and text to each other in a variety of creative ways.

Previous lyricists:

  • Barbara Hundegger (2016)
  • Raoul Schrott (2017)
  • Durs Grünbein (2018)
  • José F.A. Oliver (2019)
  • Anja Utler (2021)
  • Christoph W. Bauer (2022)
  • Ralph Urweider (2023)

In 2023, this concert format presented highlights of opera literature for the first time in a new concept as a compact open-air concert combining theatre and music.

In just under 90 minutes, the most famous pieces of music from an opera are presented in concert by outstanding singers with the orchestra, while the plot of the opera is conveyed creatively and scenically by the actors between the musical pieces. After the opera Carmen by Bizet, Mozart’s Don Giovanni will be on the programme in 2024.

In co-operation with the Tiroler Kulturservice, the concert format Ab InnS’ Konzert brings young people closer to classical music in a creative and interactive way. Aimed at the respective age group, diverse facets of orchestral music come to life, fascinating encounters with young soloists, renowned artists and contemporary composers.

For the Tyrolean Chamber Orchestra InnStrumenti, a sophisticated conception of the concert formats seems essential: on the one hand, we spend a lot of energy on this, on the other hand, the formats are also in a continuous development process that is not the responsibility of a single person, but is in the hands of a programme team that continuously evaluates, discusses and decides on each concert format.

There are a few central starting points, such as the aim of building bridges between artists and audiences of all ages, between musical genres and cultural sectors and, in the area of audience development, increasing cultural participation. It must not and does not have to be a contradiction to inspire music connoisseurs and reach inexperienced concertgoers in equal measure. By focussing on specific socio-politically relevant topics, we aim to initiate art at the cutting edge of our time. With more than 200 premièred orchestral works to date, InnStrumenti is the orchestra in Austria that commissions and premières the most compositions each year.

Get to know the musicians and the organisation team