Concertgebouworkest celebrates opening of new season on Dam Square

The Concertgebouworkest celebrates the opening of the 2021-22 season on Friday evening with an open-air concert on Amsterdam’s Dam Square. Daniel Harding leads the orchestra in a varied light programme, with violinist Leonidas Kavakos as guest artist.

This festive concert is truly a celebration, marking the Orchestra’s return to live performances, and bringing the city of Amsterdam back to life with a concert which will not only be heard in the streets around Dam Square, but broadcast live across the country and beyond on AVROTROS, and on NPO Radio 4.

The programme opens with Dutch composer Joey Roukens’ Chase, and includes concert favourites such as Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Nicolò Paganini’s La campanella (from his Violin Concerto No 2), and Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to La forza del destino. These works are followed by Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps, Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane and George Gershwin’s hugely popular Tone Poem for Orchestra, An American in Paris – a fitting finale for an Air France pilot, as conductor Daniel Harding is.

Daniel Harding – courtesy Askonas Holt

Daniel Harding is no stranger to the Concertgebouworkest, having first led the Orchestra in 2004. He has since appeared not only in a number of performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, but in open-air concerts at SAIL Amsterdam and at the Lowlands Festival in 2015. He toured the USA with the Concertgebouworkest in 2019, led the Orchestra in concert streams in 2020, and again at the Lucerne Festival this year. Currently Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding is also Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra – with whom he has worked for over 20 years – and Artistic Director of the Brazilian Anima Mundi Festival.

In addition to the Concertgebouworkest, Maestro Harding works regularly with orchestras such as the Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle and the London Symphony Orchestra. Also a renowned opera conductor, he has led highly successful productions at Teatro alla Scala Milan, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Festivals. Daniel Harding was awarded a CBE for services to music in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021.

Leonidas Kavakos draws rave reviews wherever he performs. Het Parool refers to him as “…the most spectacular violinist of our time …”, Die Volkskrant describes him as “… the master violinist …. who gives a golden lustre to everything that he touches”. The New York Times writes of “The unrivaled elegance and beauty of Leonidas Kavakos’s sound”, and The Guardian of “…. the wonderful poise and instinctive elegance of Kavakos’s playing …”. Working with some of music’s finest orchestras and conductors, he has won high praise for his performances around the world.

Mr Kavakos has recently become known as an impressive conductor as well – having led ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Gürzenich Orchester, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Filarmonica Teatro La Fenice, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and he has developed close ties as both violinist and conductor with both l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

Dam Square in Amsterdam – photo Marcia Stubbeman coutesy Wikimedia Commons

The most important square in Amsterdam, Dam Square dates back to the 13th century when a dam was built around the river Amstel to prevent the Zuiderzee from flooding the city. Today it is one of the main tourist sights of the city, with the grand 17th century Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace) being one of the main attractions. Others include the Hotel Krasnapolsky, Madame Tussauds, the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) which often houses important art exhibitions, and Beurs van Berlage, an old stock exchange building now used as a concert hall and an exhibition space. It is also home to the National Memorial statue built in 1956 in memory of Dutch soldiers and members of the Resistance who died in World War II.

All tickets for this special free Opening Night performance by Daniel Harding and the Concertgebouworkest have been reserved, but it is being broadcast live on Friday, September 10th at 8.30 pm, by AVROTROS on NPO 2 Extra, and on NPO Radio 4. It will also be broadcast at 10.30 pm on NPO 2 (following Nieuwsuur).

Information sourced from:

Concertgebouworkest programme notes

Artists’ websites

Dam Square

ArtsPreview home page

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