For the first time in its history, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is touring Australia in what promises to be a spectacular finale to the World Tour of six continents being undertaken this year to celebrate the Orchestra’s 125th anniversary.
Hailed by Gramophone magazine as “the world’s greatest orchestra”, the Royal Concertgebouw received its royal designation on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary, in 1988. It comprises 120 musicians from over 20 countries, and despite its size, it functions – according to its website – “more like a chamber orchestra in terms of the sensitivity with which its members listen to, and work in tandem with, one another”, requiring “both a high individual calibre and a great sense of mutual trust and confidence”. Since its founding in 1888, the Orchestra has had only six chief conductors, a role currently held by Mariss Jansons.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is renowned the world over for its unique sound, and whilst the superb acoustics of its Amsterdam home, The Concertgebouw, play an important role in upholding this reputation, it’s also universally accepted that outside the Main Hall, there is no other orchestra which sounds quite the same. The influence of its chief conductors and the calibre of the musicians themselves, are also acknowledged to be important factors.
The 2013 celebratory tour has already taken in appearances in Europe, the United States, South Africa, South America, Russia, China and Japan, and during its Australian visit, the Orchestra, under Maestro Jansons, will be performing nine concerts, four of which will feature pianist Yefim Bronfman. In addition, various members of the Orchestra will be giving workshops and chamber music concerts.
The RCO’s managing director, Jan Raes, says, “Music is a unifying force. It brings people together. The orchestra is an important cultural representative of Amsterdam and of the Netherlands. It is a standard-bearer for European symphonic culture and is frequently invited to perform in the world’s leading concert halls. We’re proud of that and want to share it with everyone. Made up of 120 musicians – of whom around seventy are Dutch, the remaining fifty hailing from other countries all over the world – the orchestra represents over twenty nationalities in all. You could say it truly reflects the world we live in.”
The tour opens at the Perth Concert Hall on November 21st, where the programme will feature three works: the Overture De getemde feeks by the Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar, excerpts from Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5. The following evening, the orchestra can be heard in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3, with soloist Yefim Bronfman, and Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben.
On November 24th and 25th, the RCO will repeat these two concert programmes at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane, and on November 26th and 27th, at the Melbourne Arts Centre.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra then travels to Sydney, where it will make three appearances at the Sydney Opera House, bringing its tour to a close on December 1st with the Wagenaar, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky programme. This will be a festive occasion, courtesy of the Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Sydney. Several special events are being organised, including a meet-and-greet after the concert.
It is also reported that ‘FC Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’ has challenged ‘FC Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’ to a football match. The titans will go head-to-head in a friendly game scheduled for November 27th.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s 2013 anniversary year has been one of exceptional exposure both within the Netherlands and abroad, boosted by the fact that the Orchestra shares this momentous anniversary with its Amsterdam home, The Concertgebouw concert hall, also celebrating 125 years in 2013. It was Bernard Haitink who referred to The Concertgebouw as “the best instrument of the orchestra that it houses” – both the Main Hall and the Recital Hall are renowned for their exceptional acoustics.
The World Tour has been a major contributor to that exposure, as has the launch of RCO Editions, the video magazine that enables music lovers all over the world to invite the orchestra into their homes. Since the launch of this video magazine on November 3rd, over 13,000 RCO Editions downloads have been logged.
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