WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Germany, 2018

Tour Dates: 10th 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 Info:

15th May 20:00 Guangzhou Xinghai Concert Hall Tickets
16th May 20:00 Shenzhen Concert Hall Tickets
18th May 19:30 Jiangsu Centre for the Performing Arts Tickets
19th May 18:15 Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden Tickets
20th May 19:30 Shanghai Grand Theatre Tickets
22nd May 19:30 Wuhan Qintai Concert Hall Tickets
24th May 19:00 Harbin Grand Theatre Tickets
26th May 19:30 Tianjin Grand Theatre Tickets
27th May 19:30 National Centre for the Performing Arts Tickets

WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne

WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne is one of the most influential orchestras in the musical landscape of North Rhine Westphalia – thanks to its subscription series at Kölner Philharmonie and

Funkhaus Wallrafplatz as well as partnerships with the region’s largest concert halls and festivals. International tours and a growing number of award-winning CD releases confirm its international rank as an outstanding representative of the German orchestra scene. Broadcast by the WDR on radio and television as well as in the digital media, recordings of the orchestra and its illustrious guests are regularly available to the public at large. With a wide range of projects in musical education the WDR Symphony Orchestra also makes a major contribution to cultural literacy.

During the concert season 2017/2018 the WDR Symphony Orchestra will be celebrating its 70th birthday. Founded in 1947, it initially worked with renowned guest conductors before

Christoph von Dohnányi was appointed as its first principal conductor in 1964. It was mainly under the direction of Gary Bertini that the ensemble gained an international standing, becoming a champion of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler in the 1980s.

With Semyon Bychkov, principal conductor from 1997 to 2010, the orchestra’s international reputation grew significantly, with major tours throughout Europe, Asia, and America. The success of their collaboration is documented by several live and studio recordings of the works of Dmitri Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner.

As of the 2010/2011 season Jukka-Pekka Saraste has been principal conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra. The Finnish maestro put a stronger focus on the music of his compatriot Jean Sibelius and worked on a Brahms cycle with the orchestra, which has found much acclaim inside and outside Germany. Saraste also significantly enhanced the repertoire with European national-romanticist and classical modern works. The highlight of the anniversary season will be a cyclical performance of the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven. Under Jukka-Pekka Saraste the WDR Symphony Orchestra has recorded numerous CDs, for which it received considerable praise from the music press as well as major awards. Its latest release is a recording of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8.

WDR Symphony Orchestra has made musical history with major world premieres and still plays a leading role in inspiring and commissioning contemporary music today.

Major composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Luciano Berio, Hans Werner Henze, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mauricio Kagel, Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Krzysztof Penderecki premiered their works with the orchestra. For the 2017/2018 concert season the focus of the traditional “Music of the Times” series will be on the hundredth birthday of Cologne composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

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.

WDR Radio Choir Cologne

The WDR Radio Choir Cologne has existed since 1947. The professional ensemble, with its 44 singers, distinguishes itself through the diversity of its repertoire, as well as its specialization on works which represent a great singing challenge.

The spectrum ranges thereby from the music of the Middle Ages right through to contemporary  compositions. A cappella concerts, large-scale oratorios with orchestra, pieces for solo vocalists are just as much a part of the profile as the symphonic repertoire or film music and opera.

More than 150 world premieres and first performances are a major feature of the previous programme of the WDR Radio Choir, among others with works by Schönberg,  Henze, Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez, Zimmermann, Penderecki, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Berio,

Höller, Eötvös, Hosokawa, Pagh-Paan, Zender, Tüür, Mundry. The Radio Choir is constantly on the move, exploring new territory, energetically searches for new challenges and give voice to the most difficult music scores.

From Through his creative programme concepts, unique concerts were created, opening up new hearing perspectives for the audiences. The various CDs released document this work. Principal conductors in the past were

Bernhard Zimmermann, Herbert Schernus, Helmuth Froschauer, Anton Marik and Rupert Huber. The choir's permanent Rehearsal Director is Robert Blank. As of 2014-15 the renowned Swedish choir conductor Stefan Parkman has taken over the position of Principal Conductor of the WDR Radio Choir Cologne.

SWR Vokalensemble

The radio choir of SWR is one of the top international ensembles on the professional choir scene.

For seventy years now the ensemble has devoted itself to the exemplary performance and further development of vocal music with passion and great singing expertise.

The instrumental tonal culture and vocal and stylistic flexibility of the singers is unique and fascinates not only the audience at international concert halls but also the composers.

Since 1946 the SWR has issued several commissions for its choir each year. The ensemble has premiered over 250 new choral works and includes compositions of such successful masters as Wolfgang Rihm, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann, Luigi Nono, Isang Yun, Mauricio Kagel, Hans Zender, Georges Aperghis, Toshio Hoskawa and György Kurtág. In addition to contemporary music the SWR Vokalensemble primarily focuses on choral works of the romantic period and the classical modern age.

Under the leadership of Marcus Creed (since 2003) the SWR Vokalensemble has received multiple accolades for its interpretation of chamber music and its style-assured interpretations, including the Echo Classic award which it has won four times.

For its CD of Bruckner’s E Minor Mass and a selection of his motets, the SWR Vokalensemble was given Echo Classic’s Ensemble of the Year award in 2009, then in 2011 the group’s recording of choral works by Heitor Villa-Lobos was chosen as Choral Production of the Year, and in 2012 it received the same award for its recording of

György Ligeti’s Requiem together with WDR Rundfunkchor under the baton of Peter Eötvös. It was also given the European Choral Prize of the Pro Europa Cultural Foundation for its pioneering commitment to contemporary vocal music in 2011, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2013. 2014 it was again chosen “Choral production of the year” with Georges Aperghis “Wölfli Cantata”. In 2015 it was awarded the “Echo classic for Children” for its musical adoptment of Hans Christian Andersens fairy tale “The Chinese Nightingale” for children.

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