The Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne, Germany, 2017

Tour Dates: 11th February - 20th February, 2017

The Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne is one of Germany’s leading orchestras and can look back on a great tradition.

Tour Dates
12 February, 2017, 19:30, National Centre for the Performing Arts
14 February, 2017, 19:30, Shanghai Grand Theatre

The Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne is one of Germany’s leading orchestras and can look back on a great tradition. Since 1986 the ensemble’s home has been at the Cologne Philharmonie, where it presents about 50 concerts annually, simultaneously giving over 160 performances a year at the Cologne Opera. Since the season 2015/2016 François-Xavier Roth is new Gürzenich-Kapellmeister (Chief Conductor) and General Music Director of the City of Cologne.

The historical roots of the Orchestra reach as far back as the 15th century, to the founding of the Cologne Cathedral’s instrumental ensemble which, until the end of the 18th century, provided Cologne with concerts and theatre music in addition to church music. The Society was also responsible for contracting the orchestra’s musical leadership, and over the years it engaged renowned conductors such as Conradin Kreutzer, Heinrich Dorn, Ferdinand Hiller, Franz Wüllner and Fritz Steinbach to serve as the orchestra’s Municipal Music Director (Kapellmeister). Leading conductors and composers of the time, among them Berlioz, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms and Stravinsky, put in regular appearances with this traditional Cologne orchestra.

The Gürzenich Orchestra had the honour of premiering such important works as the Brahms Double Concerto , Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel and Don Quixote and Mahler’s 5th Symphony , as well as Max Reger’s Hiller Variations and Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Concerto for Orchestra. From 1945 until 1974 the orchestra was led by Günter Wand, who as Music Director intensified the programming of classical-romantic repertoire without neglecting the composers of his own generation, among them Paul Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, Olivier Messiaen, Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Hans Werner Henze. The 20th century has witnessed composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Witold Lutosławski and Krzysztof Penderecki conduct their own works with the Gürzenich Orchestra and has seen them joined on stage by a list of renowned soloists including Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau, Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini, Jascha Heifetz and Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Under the baton of Markus Stenz, Gürzenich-Kapellmeister in the years 2003-2014, they recorded all of Gustav Mahler's symphonies; the first issue from the cycle, Mahler's Fifth Symphony, is listed in the Quarterly Critics' Choice ("Bestenliste") 4/2009 of the German Record Critics' Award and was selected as a new release of outstanding artistic importance. Playing under Dmitrij Kitajenko, who was appointed their Conductor Laureate in 2009 and developed their lively interest in the Russian repertoire, they recorded all the symphonies of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. The Gürzenich Orchestra also invests a great deal of its energies in the “Ohren auf!” [“Open your ears!”] program: working with children and young people, the program offers special children’s and family concerts for every age group throughout the year.

The orchestra gives regular guest performances on international concert podiums, including those in Vienna, Athens, Thessaloniki, at the Edinburgh International Festival, in London at the BBC Proms as well as at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 2007 the Guerzenich-Orchestra went under the baton of Markus Stenz on a high acclaimed tour in China including concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Guangzhou. In 2010 they were invited with the Opera Cologne for the first complete performance of Richard Wagner’s Cycle “Ring des Nibelungen” during the EXPO in Shanghai, including an open-air concert. The last Asia-Tour in 2014 includes concerts in Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Principal Conductor: François-Xavier Roth

François-Xavier Roth, born in Paris in November 1971, is one of the most charismatic and enterprising conductors of his generation. He is General Music Director of the City of Cologne, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera, and Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg. His repertoire ranges from music of the seventeenth century to contemporary work and encompasses all genres: symphonic, operatic and chamber. In 2003, he founded the innovative orchestra, Les Siècles, which performs contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. With Les Siècles, he has given concerts in France, Italy, Germany, England and Japan. To mark the centenary of The Rite of Spring, they toured the work on period instruments including performances at the BBC Proms and the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, captured in a widely acclaimed and award-winning recording. They will partner with the Pina Bausch Company for danced performances of the work in summer 2016.

In its 70th anniversary year, he leads the SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg & Baden-Baden in guest visits to London (BBC Proms), Hamburg and the Lucerne and Berlin Festivals. They will complete their cycle of performances and recordings of the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss. With this orchestra he has premiered works by Philippe Manoury, Yann Robin and Georg-Friedrich Haas and collaborated with composers Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann. With a reputation for enterprising programming, his incisive approach and communication skills are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw and Boston Symphony. Over the next two seasons he curates;a series, with the London Symphony, exploring the musical legacy of the post-Romantic period. His work in the opera house has included productions of Thomas’ Mignon, Offenbach’s Les Brigands and Delibes’ Lakmé at the Opéra Comique in Paris, Morton Feldman’s Neither at the Berlin Staatsoper and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman with Les Siècles. His first Cologne opera season includes Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini, in a new production by La Fura dels Baus and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Outreach projects are an important aspect of François-Xavier Roth’s work. He is conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Young Composers Scheme and, with the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, an orchestra-academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, their own television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. In Cologne, he has announced initiatives to take music to new, unconventional venues and initiate collaborations with the City’s cultural institutions.

Vilde Frang, Violin

Recognised worldwide for her exquisite sound and virtuosity, Vilde Frang continues to develop into one of the most sought after young violinists on the concert platform. In 2012 she was unanimously awarded the Credit Suisse Young Artists Award which led to her acclaimed debut with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Festival.  

Regularly appearing with the leading orchestras, her recent highlights have included performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk and the NHK Symphony Orchestra. The 2015-16 season will include debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Belgique, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin and the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg. She will make her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle as part of their annual Europa concert. She has enjoyed collaborations with conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mariss Jansons, Ivan Fischer, , James Gaffigan, Vladimir Jurowski, Vasily Petrenko, Jakub Hrusa, Paavo Järvi, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Yuri Temirkanov.

A keen chamber musician, Vilde regularly appears at festivals in Salzburg, Verbier, Lucerne, London Proms, Rheingau, Lockenhaus, George Enescu Festival and the Prague Spring Music Festival. 2016 will see Vilde as artist in residence at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival. Amongst her collaborators were Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Lawrence Power, Nicolas Altstaedt, Steven Isserlis, Truls Mørk, Leif-Ove Andsnes, Martha Argerich and the Ébène Quartet.  Vilde has toured internationally with her recital partner Michail Lifits. The duo have performed at venues including the Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Philharmonie Berlin, Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Tonhalle Zurich, Bozar Brussels as well as part of the Vancouver Recital Series, Boston Celebrity Series and San Francisco Performances. In March 2016 the duo will make their debut at Carnegie Hall in New York.  

Vilde Frang is an exclusive Warner Classics artist and her recordings have received numerous awards. She is the recipient of the Edison Klassiek Award, Classic BRIT Award, “Editor’s Choice by Gramophone Magazine, “Diapason d’Or” by Diapason Magazine, Deutsche Schallplattenpreis and Echo Klassik Award.  

Born in Norway in 1986, Vilde was engaged by Mariss Jansons at the age of twelve to debut with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.  She studied at Barratt Due Musikkinstitutt in Oslo, with Kolja Blacher at Musikhochschule Hamburg and Ana Chumachenco at the Kronberg Academy. She has also worked with Mitsuko Uchida as a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship winner 2007, and was a scholarship-holder 2003-2009 in the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.  Vilde Frang performs on a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume from 1864.