WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Germany, 2018

Tour Dates: 5th May - 28th May, 2018

Existing more than 65 years, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne established as one of the most important broadcast orchestras of Europe.

Tour Dates
  • 5th May - 28th May, 2018


WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne

Existing more than 65 years, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne established as one of the most important broadcast orchestras of Europe. Its stylistic variety is the specific characteristic of the WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Under the direction of Garry Bertini, outstanding productions of the 19th century's symphonies developed. Bertini was Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra from 1983 – 1991. Under his direction, the orchestra became one of the leading interpreters of Gustav Mahler's symphonies.

Working with Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor from 1997 – 2010, defined the profile of WDR Symphony Orchestra even more. For their performances of compositions of Dmitrij Schostakowitsch, Richard Strauss, Sergej Rachmaninow, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner they were awarded and received rave reviews. Touring Europe, America and Asia successfully, increased the international reputation of WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Numerous first performances of commissioned works made a contribution to history of music and to the support of contemporary music, as did the cooperation with extraordinary composers of our time. Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Igor Strawinskij, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Bernd Alois Zimmermann are some of the composers, who performed their works with WDR Symphony Orchestra. Also the great number of excellent productions of contemporary music bear witness to the exceptional position of WDR Symphony Orchestra.

Its competence in historical informed performance practice in baroque and classical music are due to continuous cooperation with conductors like Ton Koopman, Christopher Hogwood or Reinhard Goebel.

Since 2010/2011 season, Jukka-Pekka Saraste is Chief Conductor of WDR Symphony Orchestra. Conductor and orchestra already have worked together successfully for a long time. In November 2009 their performance of the 9th Symphony of Gustav Mahler in Cologne was acclaimed as "announcement of a great aera" in press reports. Also the awards from Deutsche Schallplattenkritik and the magazine Gramophone, which Orchestra and Conductor received for the publication of that concert on CD, approve this. More common CD releases of works by Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, and Brahms as well as invitations to major festivals and concert halls in Europe bear witness the artistic success of the collaboration.

Conductor: Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation, demonstrating remarkable musical depth and integrity. Born in Heinola, Finland, he began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Saraste has served as Chief Conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne since 2010 and extended his contract in 2015 until the end of the 2018/2019 season. He was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra from 2006 to 2013, and at the end of his tenure was appointed Conductor Laureate, the very first such title bestowed by that orchestra. His previous positions include the principal conductorships of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1987-1991), Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1987-2001), after which he was made Conductor Laureate, Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1994-2001), and he also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (2002-2005). He has recently held the position of Artistic Advisor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and founded the Finnish Chamber Orchestra, for which he is still Artistic Advisor. He also founded the orchestra´s annual Tammisaari Festival, for which he is Artistic Director.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste´s extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings for Toronto Symphony Orchestra of works by Bartók, Dutilleux, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev for Warner Finlandia, most notably a recording of Dutilleux's Second Symphony. His recording of Mahler´s 6th Symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic has received widespread acknowledgement. His CDs with WDR Symphony Orchestra for Hänssler have likewise earned him high critical praise, and include Schoenberg's Pelleas and Melisande, Stravinsky's The Firebird, Brahms' Symphonies No. 1 and 3 as well as Mahler's 5th and 9th Symphony. Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 will be released in September 2016.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has received the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Sibelius Medal, and the Finnish State Prize for Music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from York University, Toronto and an honorary doctorate from the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.

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