Welcome to our festival

Holiday in the city – every evening, all summer long: that’s the Kulturarena Jena! This open-air festival offers imaginative theatre productions, exciting films, a host of varied concerts and fun events for children. The Theatervorplatz in Jena transforms itself on this occasion into an idyllic oasis for all lovers of outstanding music and culture.

Musically, the Kulturarena spans a repertoire ranging from the finest world music, exhilarating jazz and eclectic pop sounds on the Theatervorplatz, through catchy acoustic events at the Volksbad right down to hot club concerts at Kassablanca. For these music events you can find the English texts below.

For all other informations please hop over to the German website.


Candy Dulfer 12.07.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz Nearly thirty years ago with her very first single Candy Dulfer staged the coup of the century. Just twenty years of age, the young Dutch saxophonist recorded the song “Lily was Here” with Dave Stewart in 1989. A purely instrumental piece, the song was originally composed for the little known movie De Kassière. “Lily Was Here” became one of the pervasive soundtracks of the late 1980s, a fading time during which, along with 80’s pop, the saxophone as an important aspect of wave rhythms also disappeared. Candy Dulfer has successfully resisted all of these changes, for the big world of pop music was never her goal. Her true milieu is very obviously funk—the quick, energetic jazz scene to which she contributes as both an extremely talented instrumentalist and songwriter. Prince once said, "When I need sax, I call Candy." The mildly bawdy, ironic phrasing is pure Prince, and in 1990 Candy Dulfer followed the same tune with her first, Grammy nominated album: “Saxuality” was an international success and Dulfer became one of the front women of energy-laden funk, comparable to the likes of Nils Landgren in her creative power for the genre of jazz. Like him, Dulfer has no fear of popular genres: she has collaborated not only with Prince, but also stars such as Maceo Parker, Dave Stewart, Marcus Miller, Van Morrison and Blondie, worked with Black-eyed Peas producer Printz Board, and formed Ladies of Soul with four other Dutch musicians. To date, she has ten studio albums and two live albums, and has moderated her own music television show and a variety of radio shows and lent her saxophone’s voice to numerous musicians in the recording studio. However, performing on stage has always been her calling, a place where she knows all there is to know about funk.

Elbow 13.07.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz The name, Gary Garvey once said in an interview, comes from a British TV series in which an actor claimed that “elbow” is the “loveliest word in the English language...in the sound it makes in the mouth.” At least that’s the story. Very possibly it was the actual elbow grease that the four men from rural England most certainly had to apply back at the beginning of the 1990s to escape to nearby Manchester from their small hometown, to quote the band, “shit hole.” Manchester undoubtably stands for the most creative and wildest side of English pop music with musicians from Morrisey to New Order and Oasis. Elbow saw itself and still sees itself as an authentic Manchester band with the characteristic raw, energetic, guitar-laden alternative sound that always seems a little melancholic, yet deeply honest. Outside England the band is perhaps not as well known as the other musicians listed above, but their importance to the music world is certainly just as big. They have never defined themselves as part of a scene or by the work of other musicians—Elbow has always followed its own instincts, preferring to stand on stage than in the recording studio, being outspoken even when it wasn’t exactly opportune, and as a result they have created a musical legacy that speaks for itself. The commensurate broad acclaim came late for the band, but today a Brit Award, multiple Mercurys and Ivors stand on the mantelpiece, and their sixth studio album (“The Take Off and Landing of Everything,” 2014) climbed to number one on the English charts, after almost 20 years of Elbow. Still, their domain is and remains the stage where they will be introducing their newest project, the newly released seventh album, “Little Fictions.”

The Divine Comedy 26.07.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz Take a large portion of Irish musicality, combine it with British humor, spike it with some excentric wackiness, and you get Mr. Neil Hannon, singer, songwriter and founder of The Divine Comedy. In Great Britain and Ireland, Hannon is an institution. The forty-something native of Northern Ireland formed The Divine Comedy in 1989 and is its sole constant member. Back then, with its orchestral, excentric pop it stood radically apart from the ascendant, guitar-laden Brit pop à la Oasis or Blur. The Divine Comedy were considered to be the dandies of the British music world and looked toward role models from Americal alternative scene such as R.E.M. As a result they created their own large niche and had released a total of ten succesful albums by 2010. The Divine Comedy was never a true chart-topper. They are simply too special and possibly too clever for that. Neil Hannon was simultaneously active in numerous other areas (even though according to his own remark, he has enough money and would prefer to spend the rest of his life lying on the sofa binge watching House of Cards). He has written tunes for the movie “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and the British cult series “Dr. Who” and “The IT-Crowd,” collaborated with many artists such as Ute Lemper, Thomas Walsh and Air, and composed a musical that is an absurd satire on commercial shows. Of course, the musical, “Swallows and Amazons,” was a success. Hannon’s quirky, clever humor is omnipresent on the British Isles today, not just in the form of the recently released new Divine Comedy album, “Foreverland.” Here is a contemporary point of interest: Hannon bears an uncanny resemblance to the German satirist Jan Böhmermann, not only in his work but also appearance. If that’s not a coincidence?  

Max Mutzke 28.07.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz There is hardly another German musician who has moved across the landscape of the music world so steadily, naturally and with ease than Max Mutzke. He is now, it can be said, one of the most diverse and well known German musicians; however, one for whom the overdue title “superstar” would hang uselessly around his neck like a meaningless prop. Instead, he would rather put on his cap and vanish on the various stages of this country. There he produces his uniquely exciting, relaxed soul-funk jewels of songs, very much like pop but without the one-dimensional effects, with lots of emotion but without hollow pathos. Ever since 2004 when he was clearly surprised to be selected as the candidate for the Song Contest, an alternative search initiated by Stefan Raab, Mutzke’s music was and still is everyday music in the best sense. He sings about the normal things in life, of relationships and love, aging, seeking, finding, all with a warm, slightly fragile soul voice, seemingly casual and offhand, yet all of these songs constantly carry timeless reminders of classic singers from James Brown to Tower of Power. This link with the origins of soul and funk also makes Mutzke’s music itself so refreshing, timeless and multifaceted, and opens no end of new doors. He can be found jamming with Stefanie Heinzmann or Luxuslärm or the Fantastischen Vier; he sings songs for numerous films and television programs and has appeared with Klaus Doldinger and the WDR Big Band. These forays into the world of jazz led to an entire jazz album in 2012, chock full of guest performances ranging from Götz Alsmann to Nils Landgren. Another high point followed in 2016 with a performance with the NDR Radiosinfonie that was later recorded and recently released on album number eight (“Experience”). Meanwhile, Mutzke is back in the realm of classic soul-pop, backed by his long-time band, monoPunk. We’re so excited!

Andreas Schaerer’s THE BIG WIG 03.08.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz Who is Hildegard? And where did she learn to fly? These questions are frequently asked of band leader Andreas Schaerer at the beginning of every question and answer session, and they are easy to answer: Hildegard doesn’t exist. But there is a Swiss jazz ensemble that regularly sends the audience flying, metaphorically speaking, and a musical mind with a gift for wicked humor. In Switzerland, Andreas Schaerer’s homeland, he is rarely asked about Hildegard since everyone there knows that Schaerer is a) a brilliant entertainer and b) one of the most prominent vocal artists in Europe who can work the entire spectrum from Gassenhauer to experimental sound constellations. And Hildegard is his no less brilliant jazz combo. The sextet romps through all possible musical fields, from ska to funk, swing, Balkan brass, to absolutely unique creations, always driven by immense enjoyment of playing together (the audience included). And this is undoubtably the best embodiment of the great genre of jazz. Accordingly, Schaerer and Hildegard have won numerous jazz awards, of which the ECHO 2015 was only the most well known, flanked by countless collaborations with renowned musicians (including the greatest vocalist of all, Bobby McFerrin). In 2015 Schaerer offered up the most extraordinary jam session to date: at the famous Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, Hildegard performed together with the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy. They named this event “The Big Wig,” and it most certainly is. So fabulous and so special, that Schaerer and Hildegard will be repeating it this year with selected orchestras. The Jena Philharmonic–distinguished for its unusual musical projects and frequently a guest on the Theaterhaus stage–is one of these select ensembles, and we are certainly excited about this really big number in Jena’s Arenarund.

Käptn Peng & die Tentakel von Delphi 12.08.2017 · 8:00 pm · Theatervorplatz It was four years ago, loyal Arena fans will remember, that following a memorable Max Herre concert in the Kassablanca Club an even more memorable concert took place with the old salt Robert Gwisdek, alias Captn Peng, and his “Tentacles of Delphi.” What initially sounded like a schoolboy joke about Classical Greece revealed itself to be a fresh, quirkily euphoric construct that almost took on the dimensions of a total work of art combining trash funk, videos, costumes and the proverbial Käptn Peng wordplay. The German rap and hip hop communities had a new favorite who did not indulge in rapper attitudes, but rather told stories, semi-philosophical, incredible pieces about enlightenment, socks, monsters, swallowing bullets and all manner of entertaining nonsense, surrounded by an extraordinary band that cheerfully alternates between Latin-western-disco-country and indie-dubstep-punk, between fragile ballads and acustic hip hop. If Käptn Peng & die Tentakel von Delphi have made themselve a little rare since then, it is not because they have run out of ideas, but rather they have too many. For one, Robert Gwisdek also works as an actor filming one movie after the other in recent years. And the Tentacles are also busy: bassist Boris Nielsen played bass until recently for the legendary Feindrehstars, guitarist Moritz Bossmann plays in the truly crass noise-punk band, Vögel die Erde essen, drummer Hannes Gwisdek works under the name Shaban crafting beats and as a producer, and percussionist Peter Bartz—primarily responsible for the unique sound using everyday objects—writes songs for the theater. Now they are all back with nine songs and suspiciously large energy reserves. The question arises if a slew of new albums will follow? Reason enough to clear the stage. Welcome into the tender clutches of the Tentacles!  

kulturarena club im kassablancaDie Höchste Eisenbahn 12.08.2017 · 11:00 pm · Kassablanca Gleis 1 Sometimes it is impossible to ignore an obvious play on words (the name of the band means “high time” in German), meaning that if you have not yet heard this band, then it is REALLY HIGH TIME you did! Listen and be amazed! Because Höchste Eisenbahn is not just an accurate play on words, but above all designates the makers of the finest German pop music. What sounds so easy, light and carefree is in reality just as urgent as the band’s name indicates. The four band members don’t just produce a quick, big, varied sound between crisp guitar work and warm funk deepness; the quality of the text for each song is reminiscent of Tocotronic or Element of Crime, and for good reason. Far from simply copying, Höchste Eisenbahn invents its own style that has clear roots in the German indie scene, but that also shows a great sympathy for music history legends: the laidbackness of Fleetwood Mac, the child-like craziness of Talking Heads and the scruffy folk funk of the Allman Brothers – all that is present in the Höchsten Eisenbahn. Whoever is familiar with the four band members knows where all these comparisons come from because they are by no means unknown entities: for over 15 years singer Francesco Wilking played intelligent pop with his brilliant band Tele; the number two singer Moritz Krämer is active as singer/songwriter, theater musician and film director; drummer Max Schröder has been a member of Tomte since 2005 and active under the pseudonym the Hund Marie of the band Ollie Schutz; and bassist Felix Weigt has played for a long time, including with Gisbert zu Knyphausen and Nils Koppruch who died far too young. Sometimes Wilking sings, sometimes Krämer, Schröder and Weigt create sounds that are often snappy, sometimes melancholic and reflective, and the result is so wonderfully captivating and varied that it truly is high time to attend the concert in Kassa.