The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin presents its 2019-20 season

At today’s annual press conference of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO), held in the Panorama of the Pergamon Museum, Music Director Robin Ticciati, Managing Director Alexander Steinbeis and DSO’s orchestra representative Matthias Kühnle presented the projects of the 2019-20 season to the public. Guest speaker was the president of the ‘Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz’ (Prussian Cultural Foundation), Prof. Hermann Parzinger, talking about the institutions’ many years of partnership.

Concerts with Music Director Robin Ticciati

In his first two seasons as Music Director, Robin Ticciati has already impressively demonstrated the enormous breadth of his programming and the great agreement that has grown up between him and the orchestra. The orchestra and Ticciati will continue this path in the 2019-20 season – with a wide-ranging repertoire, a diversity of styles, line-up sizes and ways of playing, with the aim of exploring the spectrum of expression anew in abundance and colourfulness for each project.

One of Ticciati’s focus areas this season will be the composer Antonín Dvořák. With a concert performance of the opera ‘Rusalka’, he will provide a striking signal to kick off the season at the Musikfest Berlin. He will follow the composer’s development in other programmes, starting with the early Romance (soloist: Christian Tetzlaff) to the Slavonic Dances, which helped Dvořák to international renown, to the Eighth Symphony, to the Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’, with which the Czech embarked on a search for a genuinely American musical language.

Dvořák’s Ninth is a starting point for “Horizon America”, another theme of the new DSO season. This grapples with the traditions of the New World, which, following the American by choice, were sought by both native and newly arrived composers, as well as with the creative tension between popular and artistic music. These will include Aaron Copland in ‘Appalachian Spring’, Elliott Carter in ‘Symphonia: sum fluxae pretium spei’, and Duke Ellington, who, originating from jazz, opened himself up to the large-scale orchestral form in his ‘Harlem’ Suite. And also in the music of European exiles, who reacted to their environment in the land of opportunity: Béla Bartók composed his Viola Concerto in New York shortly before his death, Bohuslav Martinů became a successful composer of symphonies there, Kurt Weill an acclaimed musical composer.

Ticciati will also follow lines in his programmes that, however, will be drawn through several seasons. Playing on gut strings, which was a successful experiment with Händel’s ‘Messiah’ in December 2018, will be continued with Mozart’s last three symphonies. In his series of Bruckner performances, he will now, after the Fourth, the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies, turn to the monumental Eighth Symphony on 15 December. Hector Berlioz is another composer close to Ticciati’s heart, this time with the dramatic legend ‘La damnation de Faust’. Works by today’s composers are also of course included in his programmes: the Scotswoman Helen Grime, who has already been heard at the DSO twice, has written a new work for orchestra. With the American Andrew Norman, Czech Ondřej Adámek, as well as Australian Brett Dean, the focus areas of the season are reflected in the selection of creative contemporaries.

In addition to the concerts in the Philharmonie, Robin Ticciati is seeking new connections in the musical city of Berlin, for instance with a joint project with the ‘Hanns Eisler’ School of Music Berlin, where students will take on the vocal parts and the Ferenc Fricsay Academy Scholars of the DSO the orchestra part in Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera ‘The Rape of Lucretia’. Ticciati will work with the pupils in the DSO’s chamber music project, and he is inviting to the sixth ‘Symphonic Mob’ with hundreds of amateur musicians and singers.

Panorama Beethoven

Large events are looming on the horizon: 17 December 2020 marks Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The anniversary will be celebrated by the DSO most notably as a theme: in Max Reger’s Fugue on one of the master’s bagatelles, in Erwin Schulhoff’s orchestral arrangement of the piano rondo ‘Rage Over A Lost Penny’. He also continues to have an effect in dedications such as Jörg Widmann’s concert overture ‘Con brio’ and Johannes Maria Staud’s ‘Maniai’. Beethoven is encircled: by Mozart’s last four symphonies, by Hector Berlioz, by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, both of whom needed several attempts to find the “symphony after Beethoven”. Beethoven himself finally gets a chance to speak with his unsettling ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’, to which Rodion Shchedrin’s composition of the same name and Brett Dean’s ‘Testament’ reacted, as well as with the Great Fugue, the Third Piano Concerto and with chamber music. The DSO programs related to Beethoven are part of the anniversary celebrations BTHVN2020 with kind support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Concerts with guest conductors

The guest conductors expand on and illuminate the spectrum of the Music Director’s concerts with youthful vitality, with extensive experience with the grand masters and with the urgency of the middle generation. Robin Ticciati’s focus on the USA lingers on in their programmes. Sir Roger Norrington, with whom the DSO can look back on 25 years of close collaboration, will continue his Martinů cycle with the Third and Fourth Symphonies. John Wilson brings together exile and the Viennese tradition, autonomous and film music traditions in Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s F# major Symphony. Three former Music Directors will return to conduct the orchestra this season: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kent Nagano, the orchestra’s honorary conductor, and Tugan Sokhiev, who will conclude the season.

The DSO has productively collaborated with other conductors over a long period as well. Andrew Manze is juxtaposing the half with a work by Beethoven against Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘Sinfonia Antarctica’; Manfred Honeck places Mozart and Mahler in an exciting constellation. Leonidas Kavakos will be a guest for the second time as violinist and conductor at the same time. Cornelius Meister devotes himself to Richard Strauss; Sakari Oramo will follow Beethoven’s traces into the present day. Collaborations with Giancarlo Guerrero, Edward Gardner and Santtu-Matias Rouvali, in contrast, are relatively new. Raphaël Pichon will shape a programme with six vocal soloists as a kind of pasticcio, as was common practice in Mozart’s time. Andrea Marcon can be heard for the first time with the DSO with a ramble from Lully’s courtly Comédie-ballett to Franz Schubert; Ruth Reinhardt is giving her ‘Debut on Deutschlandfunk Kultur’. This time Cristian Măcelaru is conducting the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day concerts in the Tempodrom with artistes of Circus Roncalli.

Instrumental and vocal soloists

The 2019-20 season is also a season of great soloists. The violin virtuosos include James Ehnes, Vilde Frang, Karen Gomyo, Leonidas Kavakos, Christian Tetzlaff, Arabella Steinbacher, Diana Tishchenko and Carolin Widmann. Sergey Malov will be a guest not only as a violinist, but on the violoncello da spalla, a five-string “shoulder cello” that you hang around your neck and play similarly to a violin. Antoine Tamestit and Tabea Zimmermann will demonstrate their abilities on the viola, as will Nicolas Altstaedt, Claudio Bohórquez, Truls Mørk and Daniel Müller-Schott on the cello. Behzod Abduraimov, Piotr Anderszewski, Markus Groh, Martin Helmchen, Jan Lisiecki, Anna Vinnitskaya, Lucas and Arthur Jussen and Jean-Yves Thibaudet will make guest appearances at the piano, besides clarinettist Martin Spangenberg, trumpeter Alexandre Baty and for the first time also saxophonist Jess Gillam.

The vocal soloists of the season who will be making guest appearances are Sarah Aristidou, Mari Eriksmoen, Martina Janková, Anu Komsi, Sally Matthews, Noluvuyiso Mpofu, Regula Mühlemann, Yeree Suh, Zoya Tsererina and Erin Wall and mezzo-sopranos Alyona Abramova, Patricia Bardon, Karen Cargill, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Paula Murrihy, Anna Pennisi and Truike van der Poel. The male soloists include tenors Pavol Breslik, Allan Clayton, Colin Judson, Martin Nagy, Robin Tritschler and Linard Vrielink, baritone John Chest and basses Nahuel di Pierro, Andreas Fischer, Goran Jurić, Alexander Roslavets, Alexander Vinogradov and Gianluca Buratto.

Speaking roles will be taken by the actors Dominique Horwitz and Mark Waschke. The collaboration with the Rundfunkchor Berlin, which by now can look back on 25 years of joint history, will be continued with five shared projects; other vocal partners are the RIAS Kammerchor Berlin, searching for the roots of the “American” Dvořák, and the Staats- und Domchor Berlin in Berlioz’s ‘La damnation de Faust’.

10 years of ‘Notturno’ – 60 years of ‘Debüt’

The popular chamber music series ‘Notturno’, which the DSO holds in cooperation with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation under the auspices of its president Prof. Hermann Parzinger, is celebrating ten years with an anniversary concert on 11 September. Even before the actual start of the season, Robin Ticciati, jointly with violinist Christian Tetzlaff and the DSO with a line-up the size of a chamber orchestra, will present a programme that concentrates the essential characteris-tics of the season in the Neues Museum – as a preview and a promise. In addition, ‘Notturno’ will welcome music-loving night owls at new venues: in the James Simon Gallery, in the Panorama of the Pergamon Museum and in the Humboldt Forum at the Berlin Palace, as well as on the occasion of ‘100 years bauhaus’ in the Curt Sachs Saal of the Musical Instrument Museum.

The series ‘Debut on Deutschlandfunk Kultur’ has a long tradition and is celebrating a notable birthday: it was founded in 1959 by the radio station Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor (RIAS), and bore the title ‘RIAS stellt vor’ (RIAS presents) in its first decades, later ‘Debut on Deutschlandradio Kultur’; the series has had its current name since 2017. At the great Anniversary Concert on 28 October, numerous well-known former debutants will perform under Lawrence Foster and Andrew Litton .

Other concert formats

The Casual Concerts – the DSO’s open, popular, hosted concert format – have long been a hallmark of the orchestra. The three concerts in the Philharmonie will be presented this time by Robin Ticciati, Cornelius Meister and Manfred Honeck. These evenings wind down, as usual, in the Casual Concert Lounge with a live act and DJ. The opening and closing concerts of the ‘Ultraschall Berlin’ Festival for New Music in the Great Broadcast Hall of the rbb will be shaped this time by Marc Albrecht and Johannes Kalitzke. The Kulturradio children’s concerts with an open house for friends of music age 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 in terms of both acoustics and atmosphere. The scholars of the Orchestra Academy will present themselves this year once again not only at a chamber music concert, but also in a concert performance of Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera ‘The Rape of Lucretia’ in the Kühlhaus Berlin; the solo parts will be taken on by students at the ‘Hanns Eisler’ School of Music Berlin, conducted by the Music Director.

‘Symphonic Mob’ with Robin Ticciati

With about 1,300 participants, the second ‘Symphonic Mob’ conducted by Robin Ticciati demonstrated the considerable appeal of Berlin’s largest spontaneous orchestra, which in the meantime increasingly also attracts music fans from other cities. The event will take place for the sixth time on 21 September 2019 in the Mall of Berlin – with the entire DSO and the Rundfunkchor Berlin, as well as hundreds of amateur instrumentalists and singers, conducted again by Music Director Robin Ticciati. As in previous years, the ‘Symphonic Mob’ will be implemented in 2019 at other locations in Germany by local partner orchestras, in cooperation with the DSO.

Guest performances

Beyond its concerts in Berlin, the DSO will again be present in national and international music life in the new season. After a positive start with conductor Alexandre Bloch and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott at the Chorin Summer Festival, the orchestra will embark on a two-week Asia tour conducted by Robin Ticciati in October – with a residency in Tokyo with five concerts in four halls, followed by performances in, among other places, Seoul (South Korea), Beijing and Shanghai (China). In Tokyo the orchestra will perform concerts with a number of Japanese soloists, including violinist Mone Hattori and pianist Nobujuki Tsujii, in South Korea and China with violinist Nicola Benedetti. In February the orchestra will make guest appearances in Cologne and Amsterdam with Ticciati and the pianist Jan Lisiecki, as well as other European venues, and in Munich jointly with its honorary conductor Kent Nagano. Finally, the DSO, its former head Tugan Sokhiev and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will wrap up the season in late June at the Kissinger Sommer.

Success record and outlook at a glance

The DSO can continue to report excellent figures for the concert year 2018. With 87% capacity utilisation (2016: 86%, 2017: 87%) and ticket sales totalling over EUR 2 million for the first time, namely EUR 2.13 million (2016: 1.90 mil.; 2017: 1.95 mil.) for a total of 58 Berlin events of our own (48 symphony and ten chamber concerts), the DSO can impressively prove the outstanding development with its Music Director Robin Ticciati on the basis of these performance indicators. In the 2019-20 season, the DSO will give a total of at least 75 concerts: 61 in Berlin, of which 31 are symphony concerts, three Casual Concerts and two concerts in the ‘Debut on Deutschlandfunk Kultur’ series in the Philharmonie, two New Year’s Eve and one New Year’s Day concert in the Tempodrom, two concerts in the scope of the ‘Ultraschall Berlin’ Festival, six Kulturradio children’s concerts in the Great Broadcast Hall of the Haus des Rundfunk, as well as twelve chamber concerts, and two special projects at different venues. In addition, the orchestra will perform at least 14 guest concerts in concert halls in Germany, Europe and Asia.

Subscription sales for the 2019-20 season begin on 8 April 2019, individual ticket sales on 16 July 2019.