The 237th Gewandhaus season in 2017/18 celebrates two momentous occasions: the investiture of Andris Nelsons to the position of 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister and the 275th anniversary of the Gewandhausorchester's founding. This season also features the first ever bestowal of the title 'Gewandhaus Composer'. The 2017/18 season commences on 2 September 2017.*
Since its founding in 1743, the Gewandhausorchester has consistently and very actively upheld and nurtured its extraordinarily rich tradition of commitment to the promotion of new music by premiering works by the foremost composers of the age. Central pillars of the symphonic repertory by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bruckner and Brahms during the 19th century, to works by Schnittke, Henze and Rihm in more recent decades, have received their first performances by the Gewandhausorchester. Led by Andris Nelsons - a musician equally accomplished in the repertoire of the classical and romantic eras as he is in contemporary music - the Gewandhausorchester will, from the 2017/18 season, vigorously intensify its commitment to this ideal: alongside the great symphonic masterpieces, it will perform an unprecedented number of new, highly radical works for orchestra. Unique tradition and an insatiable appetite for discovery go hand-in-hand.
Inauguration of Andris Nelsons as 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister
A four-week long festival is devoted to Andris Nelsons' assumption of the position of Gewandhauskapellmeister. Mr. Nelsons will conduct five programmes (including a Family Concert), combining classic Gewandhausorchester repertoire with world premieres of new works by Steffen Schleiermacher (22/23 February 2018), Wolfgang Rihm (1/2 March 2018), Aristides Strongylis (3 March 2018) Jörg Widmann (8/9 March 2018), and Thomas Larcher (15/16 March 2018).
Andris Nelsons will also conduct the concert celebrating the 275th anniversary of the Gewandhausorchester's founding on 11 March 2018. In addition, Mr. Nelsons will conduct the Große Concerte featured in the Boston Week (21/22 June 2018), direct a further pair of subscription concerts (19/20 April 2018) and bring the season to a close by conducting the two open-air Klassik airleben concerts in Rosental Park (29/30 June 2018). After establishing their new partnership in Leipzig, Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester will present themselves to the wider music world for the first time on an extensive tour to eleven musical capitals throughout Europe.
275 years of the Gewandhausorchester
Numerous concert and events are dedicated to the celebration of the 275th anniversary of the Gewandhausorchester's founding. The jubilee festivities comprise four principal elements:
1) The Festwochen comprise Große Concerte, chamber music, choral and organ concerts, and the Gewandhausorchester's Jubilee Gala Concert on 11 March 2018, the date of the Orchestra's founding. We are delighted to welcome our esteemed friends of both the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic who come to Leipzig to join us in our anniversary celebrations. A remarkable number of new works especially commissioned to mark the jubilee will receive their world premieres, by the Gewandhaus Choir, by the Gewandhausorchester in a Family Concert, as well as by several of the Gewandhaus ensembles.
2) The Gewandhausorchester's World Premiere Concerts. In no other city in the world did citizens, independently of their rulers, pool their will, energy and resources so long ago and with such self-confidence in order to cultivate a publicly accessible civic musical life. Nurturing this rich tradition in the context of the present day has always been of fundamental importance to the Gewandhausorchester. Commissioning the composition of new music has, therefore, been a central pillar of the Orchestra's identity throughout its history. Herbert Blomstedt will lead the Gewandhausorchester in the revitalisation of a quite peerless canon of Leipzig's symphonic masterpieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Schumann, Bruckner and Brahms, while Andris Nelsons and the Orchestra push music's boundaries ever further with the first performance of new works by Schleiermacher, Rihm, Widmann and Larcher.
3) Gewandhaus Composer
The Gewandhausorchester will, for the first time, bestow the title of Gewandhaus Composer, upon Jörg Widmann. Mr Widmann will create two new compositions for the Orchestra, as well as performing both as a chamber musician and as a soloist. His work will feature throughout the season and in each of the Gewandhaus's various concert series. Andris Nelsons will personally introduce the first Gewandhaus Composer and his work to the Leipzig audience in a Portrait Concert on 28 February 2018, before conducting the world premiere of his new orchestral work on 8/9 March 2018. Presented by CLIMA TECH.
4) The BiG ('Begegnungen im Gewandhaus': Encounters in the Gewandhaus). Six evenings during the season will be dedicated to the topic "Without ... there'd be no Gewandhaus." The history of the Gewandhausorchester will be brought to life in an entertaining fashion, focusing on Leipzig individuals and institutions without whose commitment and devotion the Gewandhaus and its musical life simply wouldn't exist.
In addition to commencing his tenure as Gewandhauskapellmeister in the 2017/18 season, Andris Nelsons will, concurrently, continue in the position of Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra - a position he has held since 2014. Mr. Nelson's dual role has inspired the initiation of a ground-breaking collaboration between the orchestras. The two ensembles have long been connected by a significant amount of shared history, enjoying a particularly close association with each other towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th. Many new compositions will be jointly commissioned and, once per season, each orchestra will present a 'Leipzig Week' or 'Boston Week', in which the quintessential Boston and Leipzig repertoire will be showcased, respectively, by the partner orchestra in its own hall. The concerts will be complemented by chamber music, lectures and panel discussions.
Herbert Blomstedt's 90th Birthday
Herbert Blomstedt will celebrate his 90th birthday on 11 July 2017. The four Große Concerte programmes he will direct as part of the Gewandhausorchester's 275th anniversary celebrations are dedicated, equally, to his honour. Mr Blomstedt conducts solely works, with the world premieres of which the Gewandhausorchester decisively influenced the music world's symphonic canon to this day: Schubert's C major symphony The Great, Brahms' German Requiem and violin concerto, Mendelssohn's symphonic cantata Lobgesang, and Bruckner's 7th symphony, to name but a few.
1) Gewandhaus Day and the City District Project
The season will be launched with the annual Gewandhaus Day, featuring, as ever, an eclectic range of performances and events throughout the city centre. This year's Gewandhaus Day will also signal the commencement of a new outreach initiative: the City District Project, the first instalment of which will span the entire duration of the coming season. The inaugural City District Project will focus on the suburb of Grünau. The Gewandhausorchester will collaborate with numerous Grünau institutions and societies in offering the district's residents an enormously diverse range of concerts, workshops and rehearsal visits. The creative project involving children, adolescents and adults from Grünau will reach its conclusion with an Erlebnis concert in the Gewandhaus on 16 June 2018.
2) Two Play To Play
The Gewandhaus is initiating a new, quite unique concert format: Two play to play. In each instalment, a Gewandhaus ensemble will be joined by a pop or techno musician to collaborate in the creation of a new work. For this concert series' premiere in the 2017/18 season, the Gewandhaus Choir and pianist Martin Kohlstedt invite the audience to play an integral role in the composition process. This active involvement allows the intimate impartation of knowledge of and understanding for the creative process. The journey towards the first performance begins on 28 September 2017 with the initial presentation of the concept by the artists, followed by five public rehearsals. The premiere of the completed work will take place on 8 June 2018.
Focus: Percussion featuring Martin Grubinger
Having featured a country (England) in the preceding season, in the 2017/18 season Focus will be devoted to 'an' instrument: percussion. The percussionists of the Gewandhausorchester will give an After Work Concert, as well as featuring in two Große Concerte performing music by Edgar Varése and Toru Takemitsu. The Focus star guest is Martin Grubinger, who will kick off the Audio Invasion with music by John Corigliano. Mr Grubinger will also perform percussion concertos by Tan Dun and Péter Eötvös in the Große Concerte.
Klassik airleben in Rosental Park
The 21st Gewandhauskapellmeister, Andris Nelsons, brings the season to its traditional conclusicon by conducting the Gewandhausorchester in the summer flair of Rosental Park in two eclectic programmes featuring music from both the classics and film, including George Gershwin, John Williams and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Presented by Porsche.
The Gewandhausorchester on tour
Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt will lead the Gewandhausorchester on a four-week-long tour dedicated to the masterpieces of the symphonic literature which were premiered by the Gewandhausorchester. From 22 October until 17 November 2017, the Orchestra will tour from London and Vienna to Tokyo and Taipei. Presented by DHL. Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester will present their new musical partnership to the expectant European audiences on a two-week tour of musical metropolises from Vienna to Madrid (22 April – 6 May 2018). Presented by Tourismus Marketing Gesellschaft Sachsen mbH.
Organ season - Reformation 500th anniversary festival
Gewandhausorganist Michael Schönheit will provide the Gewandhaus's most significant contribution to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by presenting the ambitious organ festival Reformation - Revolution from 27 October until 3 November 2017. A total of nine concerts will feature Michael Schönheit himself, several choirs, vocal soloists and instrumental ensembles. A choral and organ concert will juxtapose music from three contrasting denominations: Syrian-Ethiopian Christianity, French Catholicism and German Evangelical Lutheran Protestantism. The festival will also feature the eagerly awaited return of Michael Schönheit's predecessor as Gewandhaus Organist, Matthias Eisenberg. On 14 January 2018, the first part of the new mobile chamber organ will be heard for the first time: the continuo chest organ, which can be used independently as an instrument in its own right. The annual Whitsun Organ Festival commences on 19 May 2018, dedicated this year to the organ music of France. The organ in the Great Hall of the Gewandhaus was inaugurated on 17 October 1981. Sixteen years later, on 9 September 2017, Michael Schönheit opens the organ season with the programme of that historic concert.
Mendelssohn at the Bachfest
In summer 2018, the Gewandhausorchester will contribute a diverse range of concerts featuring music by Mendelssohn to Leipzig's Bachfest: four Große Concerte (conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm and Jérémie Rhorer), two organ concerts and a concert with the Gewandhaus Choir.
Piano and Lied Recitals
Daniil Trifonov (10 February 2018), Leif Ove Andsnes (8 November 2017), Mitsuko Uchida (16 April 2018) and Sir András Schiff (13 June 2018) will grace the Gewandhaus Great Hall at the grand piano. The vocal series boasts an equally stellar line-up with Matthias Goerne (24 March 2018), Julia Lezhneva (2 November 2017), amarcord (24 January 2018) and The King's Singers (8 May 2018).
In addition to the wealth of events taking place in the Gewandhaus, the education and outreach department will initiate a major new venture: the City District Project, the first season of which will focus on the suburb of Grünau. The Project will begin on Gewandhaus Day and offer children, adolescents and adults unparalleled opportunity to discover and create music in workshops, rehearsals and concerts. The Project comes to a climax with a major performance at the Grünauer Sommer festival and an Erlebnis Concert in the Gewandhaus on 16 June 2018. The Gewandhausorchester will give two Family Concerts in the Gewandhaus; a third will focus on the Gewandhaus Organ (all presented by Malte Arkona). The mime artists Bodecker & Neander will enthral concertgoers of all ages in an Erlebnis Concert accompanied by musicians of the Gewandhausorchester. The Orchestra's brass players will provide the music for our puppet theatre production of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy-tale: Bremen Brass Musicians, music by Sándor Balogh. In the third Erlebnis Concert, Malte Arkona will take us on a journey into the magic of song. The history of musical instruments is the theme of the fourth and final Erlebnis Concert of the season, a production directed by Philip Neumann. Presented by Sparkasse Leipzig.
* Das Große Concert was founded 275 years ago, on 11 March 1743: a concert society, with which the history of the Orchestra‘s regular concerts began. We refer to the 237th season in the Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, since the Orchestra took residence in the original Gewandhaus in 1781, from which it took its name.