At the premiere of Young Euro Classic in the millennial year of 2000, the young Norwegian musicians of the Ungdomssymfonikerne already performed at the Konzerthaus, and they have returned regularly ever since to win the hearts of Berlin audiences with their Scandinavian programmes, most recently in 2016 and 2018. Works by living composers are an important part of their concerts. The national Norwegian youth orchestra was founded in 1973 to give talented young musicians aged 18 to 28 from Norway and other Nordic music academies the opportunity to gather first experiences with professional working conditions. The annual summer working phase lasts three to four weeks and takes place in Elverum in Southern Norway. Outstanding Norwegian artists, such as the pianists Leif Ove Andsnes and Håvard Gimse, the cellist Truls Mørk and the trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen have been the prominent soloists at the final concerts in Norway and other European countries.
The 47-year-old Swedish conductor Johannes Gustavsson began his musical career as a violist before choosing conducting as his main focus. Winning the Sir Georg Solti Competition in Frankfurt and the Toscanini Competition in Parma paved the way, as did the Swedish Conductor’s Prize and the Herbert Blomstedt Award. Ever since, Gustavsson has conducted all the major orchestras in Scandinavia, including the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Orchestras in Helsinki and Turku. He has worked with such prominent soloists as Janine Jansen, Martin Fröst, Nina Stemme, Vikingur Olafsson, Olli Mustonen and Isabelle van Keulen. Gustavsson has led world premieres of more than 50 orchestral works by Nordic composers; he also recorded many of these compositions for CD, e.g. works by Anders Eliasson, CFE Horneman, Tobias Broström, Britta Byström and Einar Englung.
The Norwegian Rolf Gupta is one of the central figures in his home country’s musical life. His career has been twofold: on the one hand, he made a name for himself as a conductor, having trained with such legendary teachers as Jorma Panula and Herbert Blomstedt. The 55-year-old has been chief conductor of the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra and was invited as a guest conductor by renowned orchestras in Stockholm, Helsinki, Paris and Moscow. Gupta was also active as an opera conductor, especially for contemporary stage works. In 2011, the conductor also appeared at Young Euro Classic, leading Orkester Norden. However, Gupta is also successful as a composer, especially of orchestral works. These include his first work, All my instincts – Exposition for Orchestra (1989), Chiaroscuro (1995) and Jordens sang, which he wrote to celebrate the centennial of the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra in 2019. In 2002, Gupta also curated the MAGMA Festival of Contemporary Nordic Music in Berlin.
“Epitaph – In Memory of the Victims of Utøya” (2023, German Premiere) 🏆
Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp-minor (1901-1903)
About the concert
In the case of the Norwegian Youth Orchestra with the Nordic name Ungdomssymfonikerne, quality speaks for itself: decades of ensemble-building with outstanding musical coaching is paying off, and each of the appearances of the Norwegian Youth Orchestra at Young Euro Classic has been rightly celebrated. The young Norwegian instrumentalists now return to Berlin for the first time since 2018 – this time, they are set to scale the heights of one of late romanticism’s monoliths, Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Its famous Adagietto is only one of many facets of this imposing work. The different orchestra sections can certainly prove their mettle in this work! “Trauermarsch. Wie ein Kondukt” (Funerary March. Like a Procession) is the title Mahler gave to the first movement of his Fifth, and this inspired the composer Rolf Gupta to write a companion work, in remembrance of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Norwegian island of Utøya twelve years ago. The Ungdomssymfonikerne present it in Berlin as a German premiere.