Erhard Metz FeuilletonFrankfurt

Benefit Concert with Johannas Kiem at the Montez Family Art Association

It was a memorable 18 July 2015, a Saturday: busy hands had transformed one of the two vaulted rooms under the Honsell Bridge, the new home of the Montez Family Art Association, Frankfurt into a concert hall. Padded chairs upholstered with dark red cloth stand arranged in a semicircle around a highly-polished grand piano by Steinway & Sons. Several lamps adorned with honeycomb exuded a warm light, while dried grasses and bush-branches were draped around the room. The festive scenery was set against the background of the Salon Hansa’s imposing exhibition, on loan from Berlin. Anyone who entered here could hardly believe their eyes.

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Johannes Kiem, piano – 12 Preludes Based on Pictures and Paintings

Composed live

IMG_8786-650-Copyright-UltimafilmA benefit concert for the Montez Family Art Association was planned, under the aegis of the Frankfurt art connoisseur and patron Konrad von Bethmann. His commitment had made the evening’s festive furnishings possible. The royal instrument was handled by none other than Johannes Kiem, a pianist known far beyond Frankfurt for giving concerts of a special kind.

Kiem, born in Freiburg in 1976, already knew his future profession at the age of four: concert pianist. He became just that, and one of a special kind: a pianist as a ‘real-time’ composer. The focus of his musical work is therefore not the faithful reproduction of other people’s compositions. Rather, Kiem acquired the techniques of harmony and modulation that characterize renowned composers from Late Romanticism to early expressionism, for example Richard Wagner, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt or Alexander Scriabin, and combines these live – together with his playful virtuosity – in his concerts to form musical creations of his own. Here Kiem also draws inspiration from names or keywords called out spontaneously from the audience. At the Montez Family Art Association it was paintings and pictures, sent in by the association’s circle of friends and projected on the wall for the concert, that provided such stimuli.

Johannes Kiem simply brought the piano along, as he put it; the Frankfurt Steinway branch accommodated him by providing the instrument on favourable terms. Kiem donated his fee to support the Montez Family.

Visitors were taken through this evening of piano music by Adriane Dolce, one of Frankfurt’s popular city and tourist guides, who proved her talent as a presenter. She too did not ask for a fee.

’12 Preludes Based on Pictures and Paintings’ – thus the programme for the evening’s concert. Roughly 80 visitors listened with fascination to the sounds which Johannes Kiem – ‘composing live’, which is not the same as ‘improvising’ – unfolded in response to the projected images.

Here is an example, an over seven-minute live composition based on a painting by the well-known American artist Dena Lyons:

Enthusiastic applause that demands an encore!

The proceeds from the evening went towards furnishing the rooms of the Montez Family Art Association. In particular, a heating system was needed to keep the rooms warm in winter. This will still require further funds, however, which means there will be further benefit projects and events in support of the association. Mirek Macke, head of the Montez Family, is as optimistic and energetic as always: there are already plans for another concert event, ‘Classical Music Under the Bridge’ – perhaps, or rather hopefully as soon as the coming autumn. It doesn’t have to be as extravagant as a grand piano this time – easily portable string or wind instruments would be equally suitable, perhaps for a wind or string quartet?


Johannes Kiem, piano – 12 Preludes Based on Pictures and Paintings

Composed live

The audience had the chance to send in pictures or paintings by e-mail. Twelve images were chosen at random and turned into music in concert.

Recorded on 18 July 2015 – benefit concert for the Montez Family Art Association, Frankfurt

Sponsored by Konrad von Bethmann

Director: Mirek Macke

Organization & introduction: Adriane Dolce

Space: Jan Lotter