Reiner Michalke is artistic director of the European Centre for Jazz and Contemporary Music at „Stadtgarten“ Cologne and since October 2018 artistic and managing director of the „Monheim Triennial“. From 2006 to 2016 he was artistic director of the moers festival.
After graduating from high school in 1975, he began studying economics at the University of Cologne and music at the Musikhochschule Köln (both without a degree).
From 1976 to 1986 he worked as freelance musician in various groups („Extempore“, „NoNett“ etc.) and from 1980 to 1986 he was lecturer for bass, guitar and ensemble at the Remscheid Music School.
In 1978 he founded the Initiative Kölner Jazz Haus e.V. (IKJH) together with other musicians and organized the 1st Cologne Jazz Haus Festival in the same year.
Between 1979 and 1985, the IKJH made a successful effort to take over the empty Stadtgarten-Restaurant. With the financial support of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, a concert hall was built here, which was opened on September 4, 1986. Today at „Stadtgarten“, about 400 events are held annually on three stages (concert hall, „Studio 672“ and café-restaurant), mainly in the field of contemporary music (jazz, world, pop, experimental music) (www.stadtgarten.de).
From 1989 to 1996 he was artistic director of the festival „post this & neo that“ in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall. From 1991 to 2007 he was member of the artistic direction of the „MusikTriennale Köln“ (1994, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007), where he was responsible for Jazz & Improvised Music. For the MusikTriennale he realised a.o. multi-part concert projects with commissioned compositions for Ornette Coleman and John Zorn in 1994, the first stage version of Carla Bley’s opera „Escalator Over The Hill“ in 1997 and the first major exhibition of Norwegian jazz outside Norway („Sounds From the North“) in 2000.
In May 2005 he was appointed artistic director of the Moers Festival (www.moers-festival.de). In 2016 he asked for the early termination of his contract, which was due to expire in 2020. Since 2017 he has been artistic director of the „European Centre for Jazz and Contemporary Music“ in Cologne’s Stadtgarten. In October 2018 he was appointed Artistic and Managing Director of the „Monheim Triennial“. The „Monheim Triennial“ is to take place every three years from 2023 onwards at the „Kulturraffinerie K714“, an industrial monument which will then be converted into an event venue, located directly on the Rhine River. A first, smaller edition of the festival will be held at other venues as early as 2020. The aim of the „Monheim Triennial“ is to present ground-breaking artistic positions in current improvised, composed and popular music.
Producing and consulting activities
Besides his artistic programme work for the above mentioned festivals and the „Stadtgarten“ he has been working since 1982 as a producer („Stadtmusik“, „Off-Show“ etc.) and presenter (Jazzforum etc.) for radio and television of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, the Deutschlandfunk and the Deutsche Welle. In 1987 he took over the consultancy for WDR television at the jazz festivals in Cologne, Moers, Viersen and Leverkusen and produced the TV concert magazine „Extempore“ for „Kanal 4“. Between 2014 and 2016 he was the initiator and executive producer for the WDR tv-programmes „Helge hat Zeit“ with Helge Schneider and „Anke hat Zeit“ with Anke Engelke.
In 1999, on behalf of the Federal Press Office, he conceived the cultural supporting programme for foreign journalists at the World Economic Summit in Cologne. In 2001 he founded the „Büro für innovative Kulturprojekte und Kommunikation“ (bikk.) with offices in Cologne and Berlin.
With „bikk.“ he produced, a.o., the receptions of the Federal Government at the „Berlinale“, International Film Festival in Berlin (2001 and 2002), organized the founding act of the „Kulturstiftung des Bundes“ (Federal Cultural Foundation) in Halle (2002), the receptions of the State Government of NRW („Culture meets Sport“ in 2003 and 2004) in Düsseldorf and published „Musik life – Studie zu den Spielstätten für Aktuelle Musik in NRW“ (2004) on behalf of the State of NRW.
In 2010, he was commissioned by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg to prepare an expert opinion for the event area of the planned „Centre for Jazz, Pop and Contemporary Music Hamburg“.
In addition to his intensive travel activities, which led him to all important international jazz festivals and concerts all over the world, from 1992 to 2005 he was a founding member and board member of the „Europe Jazz Network“ (www.europejazz.net), the association of European concert directors, and from 2002 to 2004 he accompanied the project „Europe Jazz Odyssey“ within the framework of the EU funding programme „Culture 2000“. He is a founding member of the Federal Jazz Conference (www.bkjazz.de) and here responsible for European issues.
Reiner Michalke was a founding member and until 2005 speaker of Off Cologne – Verband mittelständischer Kulturwirtschaftsbetriebe e.V. and speaker of KulturNetz Köln – an association of the independent cultural scene in Cologne. From 1984 to 2005, he was an „expert resident“ on the Cultural Committee of the Council of the City of Cologne (for Bündnis 90/die Grünen).
Currently he is a member of the jury for the „Albert Mangeldorff Prize“ (German Jazz Prize), the jury for the APPLAUS programme venue prize of the Federal Government (since 2017) and the music advisory board of the Goethe-Institut (since 2016).
Prizes and Awards
1982 – „SWF Jazzpreis“ with Initiative Kölner Jazz Haus e.V.
2012 – „Rheinischer Kulturpreis“ of the Sparkassen-Kulturstiftung Rheinland with moers festival
2014 – Award of the Deutsche Akademie für Fernsehen as producer with „Anke hat Zeit“
2015 – „Award for Adventurous Programming“ of the Europe Jazz Network with moers festival
2016 – Award as „Venue of the Year“ in the context of the venue programme award APPLAUS of the Federal Government with Stadtgarten Köln
2017 – Award as „Cultural Manager of the Year“ of the Kölner Kulturrat with Stadtgarten Köln
Reiner Michalke and his wife live in Cologne.