The Young Euro Classic audience has had ample opportunity to hear impressive concerts by the national youth orchestra of France, the Orchestre Français des Jeunes (OFJ). While they used to be led mainly by the orchestra’s then chief conductor, Dennis Russell Davies, his interim successor, the American David Zinman, provided an intriguing festival finale last year with works by Henri Dutilleux and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 3. The OFJ was founded in 1982; its approximately 100 members meet several times a year at the orchestra’s home base, the Grand Théâtre de Provence in Aix-en-Provence, where they are taught by docents from leading French orchestras. The summer working period includes special workshops; this year, apart from specific professional expertise, the main topic is historically informed performance practice in orchestras. The OFJ has appointed a new chief conductor in 2017, Fabien Gabel.
Anyone appointed to a chair at the Collège de France has lifetime tenure. The Parisian Bénédicte Savoy thus reached the pinnacle of French university careers last year. She completed her doctoral dissertation in 2000 on Napoleon’s art theft in Germany. And since 2003 she has been teaching at Berlin’s Technical University, first as a junior professor, then, for the past eight years, as an honorary professor of modern art history. She has certainly found the subject of her dreams. There is hardly a prize she has not won, hardly a membership in an influential committee she has not been offered. Thus, to name but one example, she is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. She miraculously finds the energy to do justice to all these positions, all with her signature charm. Having received the Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) last year, she has now also reached the German pantheon of researchers, and continues to focus particularly on support for young scientists.
The French conductor Fabien Gabel began his musical career as a trumpet player. He studied at the conservatory of his native Paris, later moving on to studies with Reinhold Friedrich at the Karlsruhe Music Academy. Starting in 2002, Gabel turned exclusively to conducting; in 2003 he made his debut at the helm of the Orchestre National de France. He has returned there regularly ever since and also guest-conducts with other renowned orchestras in Europe and the USA, for example the Orchestre de Paris, the BBC Symphony, the Toronto Symphony and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In Germany, Gabel has appeared with the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and most recently with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester at the Philharmonie in Berlin, where they performed works by Berlioz, Ravel, Dukas and Florent Schmitt in December 2016. In 2015 the 41-year-old conducted the premiere of Bizet’s opera Carmen at the Oslo Opera; furthermore, he recorded a CD of French opera arias together with the mezzo-soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux.
The Franco-Russian violinist Alexandra Soumm’s life trajectory took its course from her native city of Moscow to Vienna to Paris, where she lives today. The First Prize at the 2004 Eurovision Contest in Lucerne brought her first success at the age of 15. In the meantime, she has worked with many renowned conductors, including Herbert Blomstedt, Neeme Järvi, Leonard Slatkin, and Thomas Sondergard. She has been invited to the great orchestras in London and Paris as well as Israel, Tokyo, Detroit and Los Angeles. Alexandra Soumm is a passionate chamber musician, participating in master classes in the USA, Venezuela and Brazil, Israel and Japan. The violinist also founded the non-profit organisation “Esperanz’Arts” in 2012, which aims to make classical music available to people in schools, hospitals and prisons.
“L’Absència“ (2013, German Premiere)
Concerto for Violin in D (1931)
“Symphonie fantastique“ Op. 14 (1831)
7 pm: Pre-Concert Talk with Anne Kussmaul at the Werner-Otto-Saal
Free admission for ticket holders at 6:45 pm
It is almost unnecessary to introduce the Orchestre Français des Jeunes, the National Youth Orchestra of France. For many years, the young French musicians have been regular guests at Young Euro Classic, winning the audience’s hearts with quality, seriousness and passion. Now they return to the Konzerthaus with their new chief conductor, Fabien Gabel. Their programme brings together the two capitals of Paris and Berlin: the life of an artist between love, inebriation and downfall is the subject of the Symphonie fantastique, with which Hector Berlioz revolutionized orchestral music at the age of only 26. Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto had its world premiere at Berlin’s Haus des Rundfunks (Radio House) in 1931 – an anti-concerto which is not out for virtuosic brilliance, but profound sophistication. Last but not least, the French orchestra presents a contemporary work: this time, it was written by the Catalan composer Hèctor Parra, who teaches in Paris at the renowned IRCAM.