Sat 26. Dec. 2020, 8.15 pm | Hauptkirche St. Michaelis
Stefan Schäfer: „Yamaga“ for Violin solo and Strings (world premiere)
Johann Sebastian Bach: „Laudamus te“ from Mass in B Minor BWV 232
Anton Bruckner: Quintet in F Major (Arrangement for String orchestra by Hans Stadlmair)
Gabriel Fauré: „Pie Jesu“ from Requiem, Op. 48
Kent Nagano is considered one of the outstanding conductors for both operatic and orchestral repertoire. He has been General Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Chief Conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra since 2015. From 2006 to 2020 he was Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM); in 2006 he was appointed Honorary Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and in 2019 of Concerto Köln, the Baroque orchestra which he is working together with in the project “Wagner Readings”.
Kent Nagano's past years in Hamburg include the premieres of Berlioz‘ Les Troyens, Hosokawa’s Stilles Meer, Messiaen’s Turangalîla with the Hamburg Ballett and John Neumeier, the premieres of Wagner’s Parsifal and Beethoven’s Fidelio, Berg’s Lulu and Strauss’ Frau ohne Schatten and the „Philharmonische Akademie“ – a project in the tradition of musical academies of the 18th and 19th centuries, which launches each new opera and concert season and features not only special performance venues, but also a major open-air concert on Hamburg’s Rathausmarkt. Nagano and the Philharmonic undertook successful concert tours in South America, Spain and Japan. Since 2017 Kent Nagano and the Philharmonic State Orchestra have continued the traditional Philharmonic Concerts at the new Elbphilharmonie, for which they commissioned Jörg Widmann to compose the oratorio ARCHE on the occasion of the inauguration of the Elbphilharmonie in January 2017. The live recording of this concert was released on CD by ECM in autumn 2018. In January 2020 Nagano and the orchestra presented the world premiere of Pascal Dusapin's Waves for organ and orchestra at the Elbphilharmonie.
A highlight of Kent Nagano's collaboration with the OSM was the inauguration of the orchestra’s new concert hall La Maison Symphonique in September 2011. In October 2016, he conducted the world premiere of José Evangelista’s Accelerando – a commission by the OSM on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Montréal’s metro. In November 2006 he conducted a semi-staged production of the Matthäus-Passion. In previous years, Nagano and the orchestra have performed the complete cycles of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies, Schönberg's Gurrelieder, concert versions of Wagner's Tannhäuser, Tristan and Isolde and Das Rheingold, Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher and Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise. In July 2018, Kent Nagano conducted Krzysztof Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion with the OSM on the occasion of the Salzburg Festival opening concert. Tours have taken Nagano and the orchestra to Canada, Japan, South Korea, Europe, South America and the USA, with stops in Washington, Boston and New York. He and the orchestra toured Europe in March 2019, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Paris and Vienna.
His recordings with the OSM on Sony Classical/Analekta include Mahler’s Orchestral Songs with Christian Gerhaher, Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 4 & 5 and a complete recording of all of Beethoven’s symphonies, for which the album Ideals of the French Revolution with Symphony No. 5 won a Juno award. In March 2016, Decca released a recording of the North American premiere of L'Aiglon, a rarely performed opera by Honegger and Ibert, conducted by Nagano in March 2015, on CD. Further releases by Decca are Danse Macabre with works by Dukas, Saint-Saens, Ives and others in autumn 2016 and a recording of Bernstein's A quiet place in June 2018 on the occasion of the composer's 100th birthday. John Adams’ Common tones in simple time & harmony (Decca) was released in 2019 and the Lukas Passion by Penderecki (BIS) in June 2020.
As a much sought-after guest conductor, Kent Nagano has worked with the world's leading international orchestras, including the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Orchestra, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2014-2016, he led his own festival, called Vorsprung-Festival, as part of the AUDI Sommerkonzerte. Other special projects included productions of Mozart's Idomeneo with Concerto Köln and the Bernstein opera A quiet place with the Ensemble Modern in a new version premiered in Berlin in November 2013.
At the Bayerische Staatsoper, where he was General Music Director from 2006 to 2013, Kent Nagano commissioned new operas such as Babylon by Jörg Widmann, Das Gehege by Wolfgang Rihm and Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin. New productions included Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and The Silent Woman, Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites, Messiaen’s Saint François d'Assise, Berg’s Wozzeck, George Benjamin's Written on skin and Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Tours took Nagano and the Bavarian State Orchestra through Europe and Japan. In addition to Bruckner's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 (Sony), Kent Nagano has released several opera performances with the Bavarian State Orchestra on DVD: Unsuk Chin's opera Alice in Wonderland (2008) and Mussorgsky's Chowanschtschina (2009) with unitel classica/medici arts, Dialogue des Carmélites with Bel Air Classiques (2011) and Lohengrin (2010) with Decca.
Another very important period in Nagano’s career was his time as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin from 2000-2006. He performed Schönberg’s Moses und Aron with the orchestra (in collaboration with Los Angeles Opera), and took them to the Salzburg Festival to perform both Zemlinsky’s Der König Kandaules and Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, as well as to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden with Parsifal and Lohengrin in productions by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Recordings with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for Harmonia Mundi include repertoire as diverse as Bernstein’s Mass, Bruckner’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6, Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge, Wolf’s Mörike-Lieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, Schönberg’s Die Jakobsleiter and Friede auf Erden, as well as Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 and Schönberg’s Variationen für Orchester Op. 31. In June 2006, at the end of his tenure with the orchestra, Kent Nagano was given the title Honorary Conductor by members of the orchestra, only the second recipient of this honour in their 60-year history. To this day he maintains a close friendship with the orchestra.
Kent Nagano became the first Music Director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003 having already held the position of Principal Conductor for two years. His work in other opera houses has included Shostakovich's The Nose at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, Rimsky-Korsakoff's The Golden Cockerel at the Châtelet in Paris, Hindemith's Cardillac and Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites at the Opéra National de Paris, and Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and the premiere of Saariaho's L’amour de loin at the Salzburg Festival. Other world premieres he has conducted include Bernstein's A White House Cantata and the operas Three Sisters by Peter Eötvös and The Death of Klinghoffer and El Niño by John Adams.
Nagano has worked with labels such as Decca, Sony Classical, FARAO Classics and Analekta for many years, but he has also recorded CDs with BIS, Berlin Classics, Erato, Teldec, Pentatone, Deutsche Grammophon and Harmonia Mundi. He was awarded Grammys for his recordings of Busoni’s Doktor Faust with Opéra National de Lyon, Prokofjew’s Peter and the Wolf with the Russian National Orchestra and Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin with the Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin.
In October 2019, Kent Nagano and Mari Kodama expanded their joint recordings of Beethoven's works for piano and orchestra with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 0 E-flat Major WoO 4, a nearly unknown youthful work by the composer, and his Rondo for Piano and Orchestra WoO 6 with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. The 4-CD edition was released on the Berlin Classics label.
In 2015 Kent Nagano published "Erwarten Sie Wunder!" in Berlin Verlag, a passionate appeal for the relevance of classical music in today's world. In 2019 the book was published in English by the Canadian McGill-Queen's University Press under the title ″Classical Music - Expect the Unexpected" and in 2015 under "Sonnez, merveilles!" in French by Éditions du Boréal.
Born in California, Nagano maintains close connections with his home state and was Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra from 1978-2009. His first major successes came with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1984, when Messiaen appointed him assistant to conductor Seiji Ozawas for the premiere of his opera Saint François d'Assise. Nagano’s success in America led to European appointments: Music Director of Opéra National de Lyon (1988-1998) and Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000).
Kent Nagano was awarded an honorary doctorate from McGill University in Montréal in 2005, an honorary doctorate from the Université de Montréal in 2006, and an honorary doctorate from San Francisco State University in 2018.
Konradin Seitzer, born in Aachen in 1983, began playing the violin at the age of four and enrolled at the age of 14 as a junior student in the class of Atila Aydintan at the Hanover Academy of Music and Theatre. He then continued his studies with Antje Weithaas at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, from which he graduated with distinction in January 2009. He has appeared around the world as a soloist with orchestras including the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, the Brandenburg State Orchestra in Frankfurt and the State Orchestra Rheinische Philharmonie, appearing at venues such as the Konzerthaus Berlin, the Glocke in Bremen and the Seongnam Arts Center in South Korea. In addition to his work as a soloist, Konradin Seitzer is also dedicated to chamber music and has given concerts with artists such as Robert Levin, Thomas Brandis and Ulf Hoelscher. Konradin Seitzer was previously First Concertmaster of the orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin; since 2012 he has held the same position at the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra. In 2015 he received the Eduard Söring Prize of the Foundation for the Support of the Hamburg State Opera.
The Philharmonic State Orchestra is Hamburg’s largest and oldest orchestra, looking back on many years of musical history. When the “Philharmonic Orchestra” and the “Orchestra of the Hamburg Municipal Theatre” merged in 1934, two tradition-steeped orchestras combined. Philharmonic concerts have been performed in Hamburg since 1828, artists such as Clara Schumann, Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms being regular guests of the Philharmonic Society. The history of the opera company goes back even further: Hamburg has been home to musical theatre since 1678, even if a regular opera or theatre orchestra was only formed later. To this day, the Philharmonic State Orchestra has embodied the sound of the Hansa City, a concert and opera orchestra in one.
During its long history, the orchestra encountered great artist personalities. Apart from composers of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, such as Telemann, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Mahler, Prokofiev and Stravinsky, since the 20th century chief conductors such as Karl Muck, Joseph Keilberth, Eugen Jochum, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Horst Stein, Aldo Ceccato, Christoph von Dohnányi, Gerd Albrecht, Ingo Metzmacher and Simone Young have shaped the orchestra’s sound. Renowned conductors of the pre-war era such as Otto Klemperer, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, Karl Böhm and Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt gave brilliant performances, as did outstanding conductors of our times: suffice it to mention Christian Thielemann, Semyon Bychkov, Kirill Petrenko, Sir Neville Marriner, Valery Gergiev and Sir Roger Norrington.
Starting with the 2015/2016 season, Kent Nagano has taken on the position of Hamburg’s General Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra and the Hamburg State Opera. In his first season Kent Nagano initiated a new project, the Philharmonic Academy, focusing on experimentation and chamber music. In 2016 Nagano and the Philharmonic undertook a successful three-week concert tour in South America, a tour of Spain followed in 2019. Since 2017 Kent Nagano and the Philharmonic State Orchestra have continued the traditional Philharmonic Concerts at the new Elbphilharmonie, for which they commissioned Jörg Widmann to compose the oratorio ARCHE, which was given its world premiere during the hall’s opening festivities. The concert recording has been released at ECM.
The Philharmonic State Orchestra offers approximately 35 concerts per season and performs more than 240 performances per year at the Hamburg State Opera and the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier, making it Hamburg’s busiest orchestra. The stylistic bandwidth covered by the 140 musicians, ranging from historically informed performance practice to contemporary works and including concert, opera and ballet repertoire, is unique throughout Germany. Chamber Music has a long tradition at the Philharmonic State Orchestra: what began in 1929 with a concert series for chamber orchestra has been continued since 1968 by a series of chamber music only.
In 2008 Simone Young and the Philharmonic State Orchestra won the Brahms Award of the Schleswig-Holstein Brahms Society. The orchestra has recorded the complete Ring by Wagner as well as the complete symphonies of Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner – the latter in the rarely-performed original versions – as well as works by Mahler, Hindemith and Berg, and has released DVDs of opera and ballet productions by Hosokawa, Offenbach, Reimann, Auerbach, J.S. Bach, Puccini, Poulenc and Weber.
The members of the Philharmonic State Orchestra feel equally beholden to Hamburg’s musical tradition and responsible for the city’s artistic future. Since 1978 the musicians have been participating in education programmes in Hamburg’s schools. Today, the orchestra maintains a broad education programme, including school and kindergarten visits, patronage for music projects, introductory events for children and family concerts. The orchestra’s own academy prepares young musicians for their professional careers. The Philharmonic’s musicians thereby make an equally enjoyable and valuable contribution to tomorrow’s music education in the music metropolis of Hamburg.
It is a special Christmas programme for difficult times: “Laudamus te” from Bach’s B-minor Mass, sung by Dorothea Röschmann, and the graceful String Quintet by Anton Bruckner arranged for string orchestra combine Christian doxology with a transcendental musical language. For this Christmas, which is overshadowed by the pandemic, Kent Nagano and the Philharmonic State Orchestra would like to continue our musical Christmas tradition in a special way – without jubilation, but with joy, poignancy and a festive spirit. The concert opens with a world premiere by Stefan Schäfer – the Philharmonic’s principal bass player – who wrote a short meditative work for solo violin and string orchestra under the impression of the orchestra’s last tour to Japan. The composition is named for the Japanese city of Yamaga in the prefecture of Kumamoto, which has been the site of several natural disasters. The concert closes with the famous “Pie Jesu” from Fauré’s Requiem, about which the composer said: “It has a gentle character, as I do.” Humility and a plea for deliverance are central to this 2020 Christmas concert.
For the concert stream click here.
Venue: Hauptkirche St. Michaelis, Englische Planke 1, 20459 Hamburg