19th to 21st August 2021
Stella Nomine Festival 2021 with Liv Kristine, Sweet Ermengarde, Ash Code, She Past Away and many more
“Wonderful, unreal, peaceful”: Statements of organizer Thomas Richter and some artists!
How crazy must a man be, organising and announcing a brand-new music- and culture festival in the second year of the pandemic? After reams of concerts and festivals had been cancelled?
Thomas Richter, organizer of the legendary “In Flammen” festival in Torgau, did exactly this. “I am thinking positive, otherwise you can leave it be”, he said earlier this year and started planning. What a risk! But he was right and the festival took place. I was there and came back with many impressions, emotions and statements of some artists.
Located in a forest and in an amazing natural environment besides the beautiful renaissance city of Torgau, this festival had a very special character. It was so peaceful; people were happy to enjoy live gigs again after such a long time and the artists were happy to perform. Besides the music festival all visitors of the STELLA NOMINE festival had the possibility to visit many cultural facilities such as museums and the famous castle Schloss Hartenfels with its various exhibitions. The exact number of visitors is Thomas’ secret - he doesn’t talk about numbers, he says. But it doesn’t matter how many there are - everyone is happy to be there, enjoying the festival and the shows of 21 bands as for example IN STRICT CONFIDENCE, AGONOIZE, VLAD IN TEARS, LIV KRISTINE, SWEET ERMENGARDE, ASH CODE, SHE PAST AWAY and DAS ICH. Not to forget the “special guest” included in the line-up: “Kaffee & Kuchen” (“Coffee & Cake”). On Saturday afternoon everybody was invited for cake and coffee.
I met singer LIV KRISTINE after her gig when she came off the stage - very, very happy. “It was my first concert after almost two years”, she told me. “Somehow it was a feeling of freedom and I had such a beautiful connection with the audience. Some of my fans are with me for more than twenty years and this connection is magic! And despite of having such a long break the feeling is still there, maybe even more emotional than two years ago when it all suddenly stopped. I was really touched!” For the STELLA NOMINE Festival LIV KRISTINE had prepared a special program. It was the first time that she played this setlist with solo songs and older tracks from her previous band THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. What does she think about the location and would she like to come back next time? “It is so beautiful here, to play under those old trees, it’s so cosy… I like it very much and I will ask, if I can play next year again!”, she said enthusiastically.
Bass player Lars Kappeler from the Dark Rock band SWEET ERMENGARDE also was convinced of the new festival. Directly coming off stage he felt that it was “very strange to play live after such a long time”! And he admitted that he was “a bit overstrained because in the last one and a half years I only knew my own environment. And now there suddenly are so many people, we are on stage - that was really great, we had much fun to play live again. I really missed it!” In fact, it was the first performance for SWEET ERMENGARDE after the lockdown - a double premiere so to speak. How did Lars experience the connection with the audience? “It was fantastic, it was like playing in front of old friends. I mean there were a lot of people we know; it was really great fun!” Can we look forward to see more live shows of SWEET ERMENGARDE in the near future? “At the moment we don’t have any plans, but who knows…when it will be possible to play live more and more again, of course we will do that!”
The Italian Dark Wave band ASH CODE had just arrived from another gig in Poland the day before and they already had played two shows in Italy, so it was not their after-Corona-premiere… but they also felt overwhelmed. I met Alessandro Belluccio, Claudia Nottebella and Adriano Belluccio right after their gig. “It’s a pleasure for us to be here!”, they all agreed. “Germany always was very good for us. And now being here is like a dream! The location, the people, the organization… it’s all perfect! It’s the first festival for us after the lockdown. We hope this means a start for many more shows without stops!” During the day they had a little time so walk around the city of Torgau as well, as Alessandro told me, and they also liked it very much. Would they come back next year? “Yes, of course”, they all said. “If they call us, we’ll be there!”
The show of ASH CODE was followed by the performance of the Turkish Dark Wave duo SHE PAST AWAY. After the gig Doruk Ozturkcan (synthesizer) told me how he felt: “Unreal! It really is kind of unreal, to be here and play a live show after one and a half years staying at home. On the one hand it’s good for musicians to have time to be creative in the studio. But you can’t be creative all the time over 15 months. You have to take time off and go back outside. You need to perform in front of people and then you can be creative again!” The moments when he and singer Volkan Caner were on stage about one hour ago passed so fast, Doruk told me. “Things you do on stage come automatically; you learn it. But we had no more practice in playing live, so it was really strange! We have to get used to it again!” That will be no problem, because SHE PAST AWAY already have announced some more shows later this year. We keep our fingers crossed that they can take place! And maybe we will see them again at the Stella Nomine festival? In any case, they would like to come again, they revealed.
Later in the evening on the last day of the festival I met organizer Thomas Richter. In one sentence - what would he say spontaneously about his premiere? “It was wonderful, it was beautiful and great - a moment of freedom!” Can we look forward to a second edition of the Stella Nomine festival next year? His answer is short and clear: “Of course!”
All pictures by Mirjam Wilhelm except Thomas Richter by himself