At the annual press conference of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, held on 25 April 2017 at the Academy of the Arts at Pariser Platz, Music Director Robin Ticciati, Managing Director Alexander Steinbeis and a member of the musicians committee presented to the public the projects of the first joint 2017-18 season.

Music Director Robin Ticciati

Foto: Fabian Frinzel und Ayzit Bostan

In September 2017, 34-year old Robin Ticciati will take up his post as the eighth Music Director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The British conductor is shaping his first season with curiosity and openness; together with the ensemble he explores a broad musical spectrum, opening up new perspectives – unusual programme combinations, works by contemporary composers, discovering new concert venues and forms.

With four projects in rapid succession, Ticciati’s assumption of his new position will become a small festival – and an invitation to get to know many of his facets. As a preview, three days before the first concert, he will welcome all of Berlin on 23 September to make music jointly – at the fourth ‘Symphonic Mob’ in the Mall of Berlin. He kicks off his official inaugural concert on 26 September in the Philharmonie with a Baroque work that is itself about beginning – ‘Les éléments’ by Jean-Féry Rebel. He juxtaposes it against Thomas Larcher’s Second Symphony from the year 2016, in which existential shocks and symphonic thinking interact in high tension, and concludes the dramatic arc with the idea of creation from Nietzsche’s perspective, on which Richard Strauss reflected in ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’.

Just three days later at the Kraftwerk Berlin, on 29 September, Ticciati will explore very different territory. Under the title ‘Parallax’ and in cooperation with the festival ‘Berlin Atonal’, the monumental industrial building on the Spree will become a meeting point where Bach, Berio, Debussy, Ives and Ligeti encounter electronic modern compositions and the soundscapes finally blend in a new work by Moritz von Oswald. On 3 October, Robin Ticciati will again be heard in the Philharmonie conducting the DSO, for the fourth time in eleven days. At the same time, Linn Records will release a first joint CD recording with works by Debussy and Fauré with the participation of mezzosoprano Magdalena Kožená in September.

Contemporary music is of prime importance in Ticciati’s programmes. He either places it at the heart of his programmes – like Jörg Widmann’s violin concerto and Helen Grime’s ‘Virga’ – or chooses it as an access to music from history: he places Toshio Hosokawa’s ‘Meditation’ before Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony; Magnus Lindberg’s ‘Chorale’ is followed by Alban Berg’s early orchestral songs and Anton Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony; Roy Harris’s Third Symphony prepares one to listen to Schönberg’s piano concerto and Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony. Experiencing that a musical work is perceived anew time and again in new surroundings, he explores Mozart’s last symphony for inspirations from Bach, and Schumann’s violin concerto for Baroque influences. He opens up the relationship between sound, space and time with the trinity of Duruflé, Wagner and Messiaen. The spatial aspect comes particularly to the fore in the spectacular architecture of the Philharmonic Hall in the stage setting for Berlioz’s oratorio ‘L’enfance du Christ’. Ticciati and Fiona Shaw, the Irish actress who will direct, benefit from their opera experience at the Glyndebourne Festival

Concerts with guest conductors

In the 2017-18 season, the DSO proves once again the strength of its contact to its former Music Directors; the season finale becomes a gala of the chiefs: Honorary Conductor Kent Nagano will conduct Mahler’s Second Symphony, while Tugan Sokhiev concludes his programme with Tchaikovsky’s Fifth. First, Ingo Metzmacher will show us visions over the course of the 20th century with works by Ives, Zimmermann and Shostakovich.

The orchestra has long enjoyed fruitful collaborations with many other maestros. This time around, the season opener in the scope of the Musikfest Berlin is in the hands of Christoph Eschenbach. The connection to Sir Roger Norrington has steadily intensified: the DSO is his Berlin orchestra. After his acclaimed Vaughan Williams cycle, he is now turning to the symphonic writing of Bohuslav Martinů over the course of several seasons. David Zinman, who most recently impressed with Barber’s opera ‘Vanessa’, will conduct works by Bernstein and Bartók, which in their conceptual and graphic pointedness have lost none of their relevance. Leonard Slatkin will present Aaron Jay Kernis, a contemporary composer with an excellent reputation in the US who is scarcely known in Germany. Andrew Manze brings us William Walton; Manfred Honeck places the cello concerto by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura between Debussy’s invocation of remote times and the life force of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony; Edward Gardner addresses at Easter Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s oeuvre.

The discovery and promotion of young artists, linked with the prospect of long-term collaboration, also traditionally forms part of the DSO’s programme. Since 1959, the orchestra has been hosting a legendary series that henceforth will be called ‘Debüt im Deutschlandfunk Kultur’; it enables young conductors and soloists a first performance with a top Berlin orchestra. Many of them have then succeeded in launching a worldwide career. This time, Ben Gernon and Antonio Méndez will be making their debuts. Even beyond this, the DSO regularly turns out to be a talent scout: Constantinos Carydis, who has long proven himself internationally as an opera and concert conductor, will return to the orchestra; Cristian Măcelaru, naturalised American of Rumanian origin, will return to the rostrum after his impressive debut in 2015; with the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the Frenchmen Alain Altinoglu and Raphaël Pichon and the Venezuelan Rafael Payare, four excellent musicians can be heard with the orchestra for the first time. The two artists who will be shaping the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day concerts with the Circus Roncalli at the turn of the year in the Tempodrom will also debut with the DSO: John Wilson, who has been having sensational successes with scores from the golden years of Hollywood, and singer and entertainer Kim Criswell.

Instrumental and vocal soloists

As usual, those attending the DSO’s concerts can expect excellent soloists, including outstanding violin virtuosos: Lisa Batiashvili, Nicola Benedetti, James Ehnes, Isabelle Faust, Gidon Kremer, Midori, Baiba Skride, Thomas Zehetmair and – for the first time with the DSO – Alina Ibragimova. On the cello you can hear Jan Vogler and Alisa Weilerstein with the DSO again, as well as the trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.

The pianists’ names are no less illustrious: the DSO audience will have good memories of Piotr Anderszewski, Leif Ove Andsnes, Misha Dichter, Tzimon Barto, Martin Helmchen and Jan Lisiecki, and above all Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Siemens prize winner in 2017.

The renowned vocal soloists of the 2017-18 season include sopranos Sabine Devieilhe, Christiane Karg, Genia Kühmeier, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller and Alexandra Steiner, as well as mezzo-sopranos Sasha Cooke, Alice Coote, Okka von der Damerau and Karen Cargill. Other vocal parts will be taken by tenor Allan Clayton and Mariusz Kwiecień, Jacques Imbrailo and Christopher Purves in the men’s lower registers.

Mahler’s Third Symphony and Duruflé’s Requiem will be performed jointly with the Rundfunkchor Berlin; the RIAS Kammerchor is our partner in Berlioz’s oratorio ‘L‘enfance du Christ’.

Other concert formats

The Casual Concerts – the DSO’s open, popular concert format – are celebrating their tenth anniversary with three evenings in the Philharmonie. They will be moderated and conducted by Rafael Payare, Robin Ticciati and Ingo Metzmacher, who initiated the series in 2007. The ‘Musik der Gegenwart’ (Music of the Present Day) series, rich in tradition, has had its home for many years in the scope of the ‘Ultraschall Berlin’ festival for new music. Conducted by Heinz Holliger and Evan Christ, the DSO will again perform the opening and closing concerts in 2018 in the Great Broadcast Hall of the rbb. The Kulturradio children’s concerts for young listeners aged six and up will be continued on six dates, also in the Great Broadcast Hall.

With seven concerts in the Villa Elisabeth and the Heimathafen Neukölln, the chamber music series remains faithful to venues ideally suited to intimate musical communication. The scholars of the Orchestra Academy will present themselves this year not only at their own chamber music concert, but also for the first time with works for chamber orchestra, conducted by the Music Director. And the popular ‘Notturno’ concerts, which the DSO holds in cooperation with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), will again entice art lovers late at night to three exciting locations: the Neues Museum, the Berlin State Library on Potsdamer Strasse and the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection.

‘Symphonic Mob’ with Robin Ticciati

With about 1,000 participants, the ‘Symphonic Mob’ together with Kent Nagano generated a response around the world in May 2016. Thus it is no wonder that Berlin’s largest spontaneous orchestra, consisting of DSO members and hundreds of amateur instrumentalists and singers, will be taking place on 23 September for the fourth time, conducted by Robin Ticciati in the Mall of Berlin. As in the past year, the concept will be implemented in 2017 at four additional locations in Germany with local partner orchestras, with support from the German Federal Cultural Foundation, and in cooperation with the DSO.

Das Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin ist ein Ensemble der