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Gérard Korsten conducts London Mozart Players’ 25th Anniversary Concert

Thursday 20 March 2014

In the presence of HRH Earl of Wessex, London Mozart Players’ patron, Gérard Korsten conducts a celebratory concert for the 25th Anniversary of LMP  as resident orchestra at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.  With soloist Anthony Marwood, the orchestra perform Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D  minor followed by Schubert Symphony No 2 in B flat.  The concert opens with Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, Fingal’s Cave.

Gérard Korsten’s debut at Hungarian State Opera with Don Pasquale

Monday 16 December 2013

Gérard Korsten makes his debut on 18th January with six performance of Donizetti’s  Don Pasquale at Hungarian State Opera, Budapest.
Further performance are on 21,  23,  26 and  29 January and 2 February.
Click here for full details and tickets

Gérard Korsten makes his debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin with La Traviata

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Making his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Gérard Korsten conducts six performances of Verdi’s tragic opera La Traviata from 20th October.  Götz Friedrich’s production has Dinara Alieva and Georgy Vasiliev singing the lead roles of Violetta and Alfredo. Further performances throughout the season are on 26th Okt.; 30. October; 30th Nov.; 4. November; 4th Dez. 2013; 8., 14. December 2013 and 8th, 14th Feb.; 19., 27. February 2014.

Gérard Korsten’s returns to the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and embarks on his final season as Music Director of London Mozart Players

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Gérard Korsten returns to perform two concerts with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra at Orebro  next week with a programme of Jörgen Dafgard’s Symphony No 1, two Haydn works, his  Scena de Berenice and Symphony No 82 in C major L'ours and Johan Ullén’s Lady Macbeth Songs with mezzo soprano Katarina Karneus.  The performances are on 3rd and 5th October.
The following week Gérard begins his last season as Music Director of the London Mozart Players, exploring the symphonies of  Schubert.  On 10th October at the Fairfield Hall, he conducts Schubert’s  Symphony No 6  in C major Little with Rossini’s  L'Italiana in Algert Overture and Mozart’s  Symphony No 40 in G minor. Later in the season, the orchestra will perform Schubert’s Symphony No 1 and No 2  and there will be works by Mozart, Schumann, Mendelssohn,  Beethoven, Ginastera and Tippet.

Gérard Korsten conducts Camerata Salzburg at the “Schubert in Gastein Festival”

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Returning to conduct Camerata Salzburg, Gérard Korsten performs two important concerts with the orchestra in the cultural festival "Schubert in Gastein", a tribute to Franz Schubert’s close association and musical inspiration taken from his visits to the Gastein valley.  In the Preimskirche on 12th September the two Schubert works are his Pyrker Lieder with soloist Manual Walser and Symphony No 8 Unfinished.  At the Böcksteiner Kirche  as part of the morning Mass on 15th September,  Gérard conducts Schubert’s Mass in E Flat.

Gérard Korsten celebrates Polish music at the Bregenz Festival with Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Gérard Korsten continues a tradition of showcasing Polish music at the prestigious Bregenz festival this week. Last night with the Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg he celebrated the centenary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski with the composer’s Dance Preludes: Chantefleurs et chantefables; Paroles tissées with soloists Kathryn Lewek and Lucian Krasznec and followed by Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Chamber Symphony No 3. On 16th and 18th August they further perform Weinberg’s music with his Violin Concerto No 2 in G minor with soloist Ilya Gringolts and conclude with the Martinu’s Symphony No 4.

Gérard Korsten returns to Freiburg and visits South Africa

Monday 10 June 2013

Gérard Korsten has returned to Freiburg this week to conduct SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg.  He conducted a programme of Satie’s Jack in the Box and Mercure at E-Werk, Freiburg last night and on 14 June he conducts Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, Martin’s Polyptyque for violin and strings with soloist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Mendelssohn’s  Symphony No 4 Italian at the Concert House, Freiburg.
Gérard  will then visit South Africa to conduct the National Youth Orchestra in Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown at the Sasol/National Youth Orchestra Course.
The South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation is a non-profit organisation and sponsored by Sasol that aims to offer world-class music education from its Development Initiatives to the icons of youth classical music in South Africa – the South African Youth Orchestra, the South African National Concert Orchestra, the South African National Wind Orchestra and the South African National String Orchestra.
The Foundation is supported entirely through private funding. Sasol has been a sponsor since 1979.  SANYO is grateful to De Beers, Rupert Musiekstigting, Adcock-Ingram, South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), AECI, and Business & Arts South Africa for their support over a number of years. In 2005, support was received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

medici.tv stream Gérard Korsten and Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s acclaimed new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Opera de Dijon

Thursday 25 April 2013

Gérard Korsten conducted the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in five performances of a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Opera de Dijon in March, the orchestra making a welcome return to the pit of the Auditorium after an absence of ten years. You can stream the production on medici.tv at the link below and the DVD will be released later in the year.
http://www.medici.tv/#!/don-giovanni-jean-yves-ruf-gerard-korsten-opera-de-dijon
Details of the production are as below:
Musical Director Gerard Korsten
Staging Jean-Yves Ruf
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF EUROPE
CHŒUR DE L’OPÉRA DE DIJON
Staging assistant Anaïs de Courson
Choreography Caroline Marcadé
Set Laure Pichat
Costumes Claudia Jenatsch
Lights Christian Dubet
DON GIOVANNI Edwin Crossley-Mercer
LEPORELLO Josef Wagner
DONNA ANNA Diana Higbee
DON OTTAVIO Michael Smallwood
il COMMANDATORE Timo Riihonen
DONNA ELVIRA Ruxandra Donose
ZERLINA Camille Poul
MASETTO Damien Pass

Gérard Korsten returns to the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and debuts with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

Thursday 28 March 2013

In April, Gérard  Korsten returns to conduct two performances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in a delightful all Mozart programme.  He is joined by young and talented soloist Esther Yoo (making her debut with the orchestra) performing Mozart’s  Concerto No 3 in G major, the concerto framed by Idomeneo’s Overture and Ballet music and the Symphony No 39 in E flat major. Gérard then flies to Australia to make his debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra with another Mozart Violin Concerto, the No 5 in A Major with soloist Chloe Hanslip. The two concerts also include  Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 3 'Scottish'.

Gérard Korsten to conduct Chamber Orchestra of Europe in new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Opera de Dijon

Thursday 7 March 2013

Gérard Korsten will conduct the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in five performances of a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at  Opera de Dijon between 22nd and 30th March, the orchestra making a welcome return to the pit of the Auditorium after an absence of ten years. Furthermore, on 29th March, Gérard will conduct a concert with the orchestra on stage that includes Schumann’s Violin Concerto (soloist David Grimal), Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No 2 and Schubert’s Symphony No 1.

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe will give five performances of Don Giovanni at the Auditorium of the Opéra de Dijon on 22, 26, 28 and 30 March at 8pm and on 24 March at 3pm. Details of the cast are below:

Musical Director Gerard Korsten
Staging Jean-Yves Ruf
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF EUROPE
CHŒUR DE L’OPÉRA DE DIJON
Staging assistant Anaïs de Courson
Choreography Caroline Marcadé
Set Laure Pichat
Costumes Claudia Jenatsch
Lights Christian Dubet
DON GIOVANNI Edwin Crossley-Mercer
LEPORELLO Josef Wagner
DONNA ANNA Diana Higbee
DON OTTAVIO Michael Smallwood
il COMMANDATORE Timo Riihonen
DONNA ELVIRA Ruxandra Donose
ZERLINA Camille Poul
MASETTO Damien Pass
Duration: around three hours with interval
Visit the Opéra de Dijon website for more information.
Interview with Gérard Korsten

In advance of our project together, the COE had a conversation with Gérard, who is currently rehearsing in Dijon, to gain further insight into his interpretation of Don Giovanni... and to find out how eagerly he is anticipating the opportunity to conduct the COE again!

The COE and you, it’s a story that goes back to over 25 years ago. Could you tell us how it all started?
It was unexpected. I was the Concertmaster of Camerata Salzburg with Sándor Végh at the time and had held this position for five years. I was also Sándor Végh’s teaching assistant and I had come to a point when I wanted to move on. So I left, and within one or two weeks, I was invited to take part as guest leader in a COE tour with Salvatore Accardo three months later. As I was free I said ‘yes’! In the meantime, I went to Seville, in Spain, on holiday, where everything I had was stolen, including my credit card. I therefore couldn’t leave Seville and had to delay my arrival in Pesaro where the COE was starting its tour. Somehow, I managed to reach Pesaro two days after the rehearsals had started, the day before the concert. For the first performance, I sat on the second stand and for the second concert, I sat on the first stand.
I was then asked to do another tour with the Orchestra, again as guest leader, with Gidon Kremer this time. It was a fantastic three-week tour doing all of Mozart’s Violin Concertos without a conductor. It was during that tour that Dougie Boyd, then the COE’s principal oboe, who was on the Committee, said to me that the Orchestra wanted to invite me to become a co-leader together with Marieke. I was in heaven really: I had literally just left the Camerata Salzburg, not really knowing what I was going to do next and here comes the COE!

What are your favourite moments during your time with the COE?
There are so many... I was there for nine years. Looking back, the whole time I spent with the COE was one of the greatest experiences of my career. First of all, meeting and working a lot with Claudio Abbado was very interesting and enriching for me as I had already started conducting Cape Town Opera in South Africa, so working with such a major conductor was a fantastic experience. In fact, I remember thinking, while we were doing Le Nozze di Figaro in Ferrara with Claudio: “Wouldn’t it be great if I could also conduct a Mozart Opera with an orchestra like the COE?” But of course, it was a dream and I never thought it would happen. And here we are now!
Then of course, there were incredible moments with Harnoncourt with whom I also learnt a lot. You know, at the time, there was a lot of money around, there was no crisis at all so the projects and the tours were just incredible. I will never forget our performances of Beethoven’s nine symphonies at the Salzburg Festival.
I also remember working with Heinz Holliger on pieces by Schönberg, a fantastic experience.
One of the highlights of my time with the COE was performing Tchaikovsky’s Serenade and Souvenir de Florence in Berlin without a conductor. We recorded it but I particularly remember the concert before the recording and which sounded much better. I always wondered why we had not recorded it live that night!
Also, the musical level of the COE musicians is so high! I was coming from the Sándor Végh school, which was rather ‘old school’, extremely serious and slightly rigid. As a result, I had a few problems adjusting to the COE ‘democracy’ for the first two years because in Salzburg, there was no democracy. Sándor Végh and I would decide on everything. But I didn’t only enjoy the COE from a musical point of view, there was also the human factor and especially the ‘eating’ experience! Wherever we would travel, some players would always have a Michelin guide and know exactly where to go to have the best meal.
Unfortunately, it came to the point when I was conducting more and more and therefore didn’t have much time to keep my violin-playing up to scratch. The level of the Orchestra was so high and, being the leader, I had to be even better than everyone else. I remember practicing my violin in airplane toilets when I was on long-distance flights from Japan or South Africa for instance, and also in trains, just to be able to keep my standard of playing when we would meet in Ferrara or Berlin, where the COE had residencies at the time. So I told the Orchestra that conducting was becoming my main activity and that I was now able to make a living out of it, this meant I could not keep playing with the COE, I had too little time. Although it was a terribly difficult decision to make, it was the right one, not only for myself but also for the Orchestra.
Sometimes now, I think to myself that I should pick up my violin again and try to join the COE’s second violins because I miss playing the violin very much! When I conduct, I always depend on musicians, I don’t play myself, conducting is a very different experience. Of course, for the Don Giovanni project, I know that I have a Rolls Royce and I know it is going to be a great experience but very often, I conduct in small places in Germany or elsewhere in Europe, where I don’t necessarily know the orchestra and I have to find a way to inspire these people, who are often part of ‘service orchestras’ or Dienstorchester. In the COE, I have always admired that the players are making music and art together and there is no notion of doing ‘a job’ in order to ‘make money’.

Are you taking your violin to Dijon?
I haven’t got it with me now but I am going back to Zurich for a few days and maybe I will take it back with me to Dijon then but I haven’t played it for years! Now, when I pick up my violin, I need to do three hours a day of really slow scales, like a beginner, as if I was starting all over again... I will bring it along because I’m sure that I will feel really inspired!
 

Did the COE play any role in your decision to take on conducting?
I already wanted to become a conductor when I was just a kid and had just started the violin. I was fascinated by conducting. When I went to Salzburg and started working with Sándor Végh, I developed my conducting skills by conducting many rehearsals for him as he was already quite elderly at the time. Then, I had the opportunity to work with fantastic conductors with the COE and this taught me a lot. I have actually never studied conducting, so these wonderful conductors and soloists were really my teachers. During my years with the COE, I was also conducting in Cape Town, learning the repertoire, and then conducting here and there in Europe. In fact, very often when I am invited as guest conductor, it is through the ‘COE connection’. For example, Peter Olofsson was concertmaster in Uppsala in Sweden and he invited me to come and do a concert with them. As a result, they invited me to become their chief conductor for five years. But my dream has always been to be able to conduct an orchestra like the COE so doing this project is literally a dream come true!

Since leaving the COE, have you worked with them at all as a conductor?
I actually conducted the very last concert I took part in as a COE member. Jonathan Williams was playing Strauss’s horn concerto and he was my best friend in the Orchestra at the time so this last performance meant a lot to me and was emotionally charged. After I had left the COE, I conducted them again at a concert at St John’s, Smith Square in London in 1999.

What can you tell us about this production of Don Giovanni so far?
We started rehearsing on 14 February, which is a very long time before the first concert (22 March). After one week of rehearsals in a rehearsal room, we have now started rehearsing on stage so we have a better feel of how this production will look like. The stage is very simple, there are no decor changes throughout the performance, but the music is so fantastic and so strong that, in the end, it doesn’t really matter what the stage looks like. I like the Director Jean-Yves Ruf very much although I have never worked with him before. He is very competent and knows exactly what he wants.

Have you conducted Don Giovanni before? If so, what is your view on this world-famous opera? What is your personal touch?
My first Don Giovanni was in South Africa many years ago. Then I directed it twice in Cagliari, in Sardegna, where I used to be chief conductor, about twelve years ago. This is where I met my wife, who was singing Donna Anna. I then directed a production in Stockholm at the Royal Opera and this is now my fifth production.
I am not a specialist in any way, not like Harnoncourt who knows exactly what he wants. I am a little bit more like Claudio in that I let the Orchestra make music. Of course I have stylistic views on the piece but I know that the Orchestra will play it like that anyhow because this is just the way they play Mozart. I don’t tend to go into too much detail, I would rather focus on the music-making. In Don Giovanni, the music speaks for itself really.