At the annual press conference of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin on 6 April 2016, Managing Director Alexander Steinbeis – together with the DSO’s musicians committee – presented the projects of the 2016-17 season to the public in the Humboldt Box at Schlossplatz Berlin.
70 years of DSO
The DSO will celebrate its 70th anniversary in November 2016. Since being founded as the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester, it has gone through an exciting, varied and brilliant development closely linked with the history of the city of Berlin. It has changed its name twice: to Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (RSO) in 1956, and in 1993 to Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. As a radio and concert orchestra, as a champion of contemporary music and ambassador of Berlin and Germany to the world, it is firmly established on the present-day musical map. On 6 November 2016, Kent Nagano, formerly the orchestra’s chief conductor and now its honorary conductor, will conduct an Anniversary Concert.
Five principal conductors
The new season is rich in prominent guests on the podium: the DSO’s Music Director Designate, Robin Ticciati, and all his predecessors who have steered the affairs of the orchestra since the fall of the wall, will shape almost one third of the programmes. With the Eighth Symphony, Vladimir Ashkenazy reminds us in two differently coloured concerts of the formidable Shostakovich interpretations of his era, and with Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’ of his affinity for English composers. Besides the anniversary programme, Kent Nagano will conduct another concert, which takes a look at the connections between the classical and romantic eras with works by Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss.
His successor Ingo Metzmacher will precede the orchestral splendour of Bruckner’s ‘Romantic’ with the subtly differentiated sounds of Stravinsky’s ‘Apollon musagète’. Robin Ticciati, who takes over at the helm of the orchestra in September 2017, presents himself at his two concerts with works in the great orchestral traditions – Mahler’s Fourth and Schumann’s Third Symphonies – as well as with contemporary British music by Thomas Adès and Helen Grime. Tugan Sokhiev will conclude the season with the premiere of a double concerto by Jelena Firssowa and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.
Concerts with guest conductors
The DSO also has long-standing relationships with an impressive line-up of other seasoned conductors, several of whom will be returning to the orchestra: David Zinman, who will celebrate his 80th birthday this year, will carry out one of the main projects of the season: a semi-staged performance of Samuel Barber’s opera ‘Vanessa’. With the Eighth, Sir Roger Norrington will conclude his acclaimed cycle of the symphonies of Vaughan Williams, complementing it with the ballet music ‘Job – A Masque for Dancing’. Sir Andrew Davis and Sir Mark Elder complete the illustrious array of British conductors. Christoph Eschenbach forges an arc from the premiere of a work commissioned from Philipp Maintz by the DSO to Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto back to Brahms’s Second Symphony. Neeme Järvi and Ton Koopman will also conduct the orchestra again this season.
The younger, up-and-coming generation is also prominently represented conducting the DSO. Jakub Hrůša, designated head in Bamberg, will open the season in September with a concert at the Musikfest Berlin. Stéphane Denève devotes himself to Prokofiev, while Hannu Lintu and Yutaka Sado take a musical look across the Atlantic. In the scope of the ‘Debut on Deutschlandradio Kultur’ series, Lorenzo Viotti and Tung-Chieh Chuang will give their Berlin debuts with the DSO. 31-year old Finnish Santtu-Matias Rouvali did so in 2014, so convincingly that he will now be conducting a subscription concert with a Bohemian-Scandinavian programme. In addition, the debut of the 36-year old Latvian Andris Poga, who in 2014 covered brilliantly with the Munich Philharmonic for Lorin Maazel and Valery Gergiev, is being highly anticipated.
One week after him, Fabien Gabel, currently heading up Québec but born in Paris, will conduct the DSO for the first time with an exquisite French programme. Alexander Shelley, who impressed last year on New Year’s Eve and Day, will shape a Mozart and Strauss evening. Martyn Brabbins will conduct these concerts this season. A special project of the DSO, the premiere of the German Mass by composer Stefan Heucke – the Ordinarium missae has been set to music in the translation by Norbert Lammert, President of the Bundestag – is in the hands of Steven Sloane.
Instrumental and vocal soloists
In the coming season, a great number of excellent virtuosi can also be found on the DSO programmes. For instance, pianists Kirill Gerstein, Igor Levit, Mikhail Pletnev, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Lars Vogt will perform with the orchestra. Violinists Renaud Capuçon, Vadim Gluzman, Leonidas Kavakos, Alina Pogostkina and Baiba Skride can be heard, as well as violist Antoine Tamestit and cellists Nicolas Altstaedt, Truls Mørk, Johannes Moser and Daniel Müller-Schott. Another master of his craft will be our guest, Avi Avital on mandolin, and the percussion virtuoso Martin Grubinger returns to the orchestra with a concerto composed especially for him by Olga Neuwirth.
The renowned vocal soloists of the 2016-17 season include sopranos Juliane Banse, Genia Kühmeier, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller and Erin Wall, mezzosopranos Susan Graham and Catherine Wyn-Rogers as well as contralto Claudia Huckle. Other vocal parts will be taken by tenors Ian Bostridge, Benjamin Bruns and Andrew Staples, and in the lower men’s registers Neal Davies, Michael Nagy, Alexei Tanovitski and Roderick Williams. Six projects will be carried out jointly with the Rundfunkchor Berlin, including Honegger’s ‘Le roi David’ and Schubert’s Mass in A-flat major. The RIAS Kammerchor is our partner in the opera project ‘Vanessa’ and at Fabien Gabel’s French programme.
The Casual Concerts – the DSO’s communicative concert format – will kick off their ninth season in the Philharmonie with three evenings moderated and conducted by Stéphane Denève, Alexander Shelley and Sir Roger Norringon. The ‘Musik der Gegenwart’ (Music of the Present Day) series, rich in tradition, has had its home for many years in the framework of the ‘Ultraschall Berlin’ festival for new music. Johannes Kalitzke and Dennis Russell Davies will conduct the two concerts in the Großer Sendesaal (Great Broadcast Hall) of the rbb. The Kulturradio children’s concerts for the youngest listeners will be continued on six dates, also in the Sendesaal.
The Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin will kick off the chamber music season at the ‘Classical Music in the Green Countryside’ series in the Botanical Garden. Seven additional concerts will be held alternately in the Villa Elisabeth and the Heimathafen Neukölln. The popular ‘Notturno’ concerts, which the DSO holds in cooperation with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), will again receive music-loving night owls at three exciting locations: in the Museum of the Ancient Near East, in the Museum of Photography, and in the garden of the Berggruen Museum. In addition, the DSO is associated with the foundation in the scope of the ‘Long Night of Museums’ on 27 August 2016, and with the supporting programme for the exhibition ‘BUSONI. Freiheit für die Tonkunst!’ in the fall of this year.
The ‘Symphonic Mob’, Berlin’s largest spontaneous orchestra consisting of DSO members and hundreds of amateur musicians, has developed into a real hit. The project will take place for the third time on 16 May 2016 conducted by Kent Nagano; for 2017, too, a continuation is planned. With generous support from the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), the concept will be implemented with local partner orchestras in cooperation with the DSO at four additional locations in Germany in the summer and fall of 2016.