One of the world's oldest orchestras comes to Hall One
One of the world’s oldest orchestras, whose home city is twinned with Newcastle, is performing in the region in the lead up to its 250th anniversary.
Bergen Philharmonic will be performing symphonic masterworks and orchestral showpieces at The Sage Gateshead on February 1. Book tickets here.
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway. In 1968 the King at that time, Olav V, opened Newcastle’s Civic Centre. Each December the city is presented with a Christmas tree by the City of Bergen.
The concert, conducted by Music Director Andrew Litton, will be an excitable rollercoaster ride of works including Strauss’ ‘A Hero’s Life’ (the first time this has been performed at The Sage Gateshead), Beethoven’s ‘Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor’ and Delius’ ‘On the Mountain’.
Christian Ihle Hadland, one of Norway’s most exciting young piano talents and one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists, will be performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto.
American conductor, Litton, became Bergen Philharmonic’s Music Director in 2003 and recently extended his contract to run throughout its 250th anniversary season in 2014/15. He guest conducts the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of over 100 recordings with awards including America’s Grammy, France’s Diapason d’Or, and many British and other honours. Under Litton the Bergen Philharmonic made a BBC Proms London début, appeared at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and New York’s Carnegie Hall – the capstone of its first American tour in 40 years.
He said: “This is our third tour as a team to the UK and I can’t wait to hear Ein Heldenleben in The Sage Gateshead.”
“When I showed up for my first guest conducting engagement at Bergen in 1998, like most people outside Norway, I had little knowledge of the orchestra. I realised how wrong that was after hearing it play just one bar. I’m extremely happy a decade after taking on the Music Director’s job, that we’ve made 61 recordings and many prestigious tours. These have helped connect the Bergen Philharmonic with a global audience and I’m extremely proud of that. We’ve worked together, lived together and are a family. I look forward to sharing that unique feeling with our UK audiences.”
Delius’s ‘On the Mountain’ was sketched by the young composer in 1889 during a walking holiday with his friends and fellow musicians Grieg and Christian Sinding in the Jotunheim Mountains, north-east of Bergen. The score was also inspired by the hunt scene in Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt.
Litton added: “The Norwegian connection with the Delius is not to be missed. It’s tremendous fun to programme a work by a British composer that is rooted in Norway.”
Notes to editors:
Andrew Litton and Bergen Philharmonic
Performing new works and exploring keystone compositions from the orchestral canon have been central to the Bergen Philharmonic’s development under Andrew Litton’s leadership. He cites programming breadth, intensive preparation and close relationships with regular guest artists among the forces that have boosted the orchestra’s artistic quality. “We now appoint an artist-in-residence each season,” recalls Litton. Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and violist Lawrence Power have already occupied the position, while percussionist Martin Grubinger and violinist Vadim Gluzman are set to continue the tradition over the next two seasons.
“For our 2014/15 anniversary season, the star guests will be the orchestra. There will be concertos written for its members, prestigious tours and important recordings,” says Andrew Litton. “The momentum is driving us forward. The effort I embraced when I became Music Director was the task of renovating the Bergen Philharmonic’s status, first in Norway, then in the world.”
The City of Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and is situated on the south west coast. It has developed a diversified economy, based largely on fishing, shipbuilding and associated industries (repairing and equipment), machinery and metal products, and food processing. In 2000 it was one of the Cultural Cities of Europe and in July 2001 it hosted the Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race.
In terms of economic development the twinning arrangement with Bergen is potentially very important as Britain is the main recipient of foreign investment by Norwegian industrial, shipping, commercial and financial companies. The City regularly exhibits at Offshore Northern Seas in Stavanger, with a selection of local offshore oil and gas related companies. At the Civic level twinning with Bergen has been very active. Links with Norway have existed for hundreds of years and the contact with Bergen has been fairly easy to maintain because of the physical proximity and the direct transport links. For this reason the Council has been able to organise youth exchanges and activity holidays for some of the more deprived and unemployed young people in the City, as well as the more usual school exchanges.
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