Tour to Scandinavia
14-21 February 2022
A COE debut
As the Salzburg Mozartwoche was unfortunately cancelled in January, our first tour of the year was a series of concerts in Norway and Denmark in February with Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare and Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang. Together we performed Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture, Schumann’s Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’ in Oslo, Bergen and also Aalborg in Denmark. After our concert in Bergen Vilde mentioned that it had been her very first performance of Schumann’s Violin Concerto. This fact amazed the COE musicians as she had performed the work with an understanding and intimacy that had suggested a life-time of experience. That she was also able to connect to everyone as if performing chamber music created an extraordinary bond with the Orchestra. Rafael proved to be the perfect partner to nurture this alchemy and it was a strong contrast to meet him for exhilarating performances of Beethoven’s “Eroica”.
All venues were extremely welcoming and the Orchestra performed all concerts to sold-out halls and enthusiastic applause. According to the Oslo Aftenposten (20/02/2022): “The orchestra shows enormous elasticity and plays with a great dynamic range and enormous precision. It’s like the orchestra is one musician instead of about forty.” Also, in Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’: “There is something luxurious about the ensemble sound, especially in the rarely interplayed strings. They play with a legato I rarely have heard the like, and it’s like all the instruments are merging. Payare also proves to be a brilliant symphonic storyteller.”
The touring landscape post-pandemic has fundamentally changed for the COE and we certainly no longer take being able to make music together on the platform for granted. As the world transitions from a state of ‘pandemic’ to ‘endemic’, the COE has to adapt to travel chaos and various levels of restrictions according to the countries where it tours. With very few restrictions in place in Scandinavia, we navigated our way through the challenges of a flurry of flight cancellations and COVID-19 cases within the Orchestra. One of the bassoons from the Bergen Philharmonic joined us for the entire tour after our second bassoon came down with the virus as did our principal oboe later on, amongst others. The principal oboe from the Oslo Philharmonic therefore jumped in for our concert in Aalborg, having attended our concert the night before in Oslo and left his home mid-breakfast to get his concert outfit and instrument from the Oslo Opera House. He then travelled to the airport where we were holding the charter plane for him to arrive, a charter that had been arranged only two weeks before as our scheduled flights had been cancelled. One last challenge to embrace the day before our departure from Denmark was the cancellation of 26 return flights…
Vilde Frang’s profound musicianship and exceptional lyricism has elevated her as one of the leading and most individual young artists.
In 2012 she was unanimously awarded the Credit Suisse Young Artists Award which led to her debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Festival.
Regularly appearing with the world’s leading orchestras, 2016 saw Vilde make her acclaimed debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle as part of their Europa Konzert; she returned during the 17-18 season for subscription concerts at the Philharmonie and the Baden Baden Easter Festival with Ivan Fischer. Other recent highlights have included performances with the San Francisco and Pittsburgh Symphonies, Munich and LA Philharmonics, Bamberger Symphoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester, Orchestre de Paris and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as extensive European tours with the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg.
During the 2021-22 season, Vilde will be Artist in Residence with the Royal Stockholm Phiharmonic Orchestra, apprearing with the orchestra twice during the season and in recital with pianist, Denis Kozhukin. She will also be a Focus Artist with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. That season also sees engagements with the Wiener Symphoniker at the Musikverien and on tour, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre and on tour in Korea, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony orchestras.
Highlights of recent seasons have included engagements with London Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Staatskspelle Dresden, Oslo Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester and in North America with the Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and her debut at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York.
Vilde has enjoyed collaborations with conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Herbert Blomstedt, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mariss Jansons, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ivan Fischer, Sakari Oramo, Jakub Hrůša, Vladimir Jurowski, Manfred Honeck, Mirga GražinytėTyla, Daniel Harding, Valery Gergiev, David Zinman, Antonio Pappano, Lahav Shani, Paavo Järvi and Yuri Temirkanov.
Vilde regularly appears at the Lucerne Festival and BBC Proms in London and is a keen chamber musician, regularly appearing at festivals in Verbier, Lockenhaus, George Enescu Festival, Salzburg Festival and the Prague Spring Music Festival. As of 2020, Vilde is also a member of the Artistic Board of the Oslo Chamber Music Festival. She appears regularly in recital at the Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikverein, Philharmonie Berlin, Wigmore Hall, Tonhalle Zurich and the Bozar in Brussels, as well in North America as part of the Vancouver Recital Series, Boston Celebrity Series and San Francisco Performances.
Vilde Frang is an exclusive Warner Classics artist and her recordings have received numerous awards. She is the recipient of the Classic BRIT Award, “Diapason d’Or” by Diapason Magazine, Académie Charles Cros’ «Grand Prix du Disque», Deutsche Schallplattenpreis and the Echo Klassik Award. She also received a Gramophone Award in the Concerto category for her recording of Korngold’s Violin Concerto and Britten’s Violin Concerto.
The 21-22 season will mark Rafael Payare’s third season as Music Director of San Diego Symphony and already their relationship has been recognised as one of the most dynamic in North America.
Rafael was previously Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 – 2019 with whom he appeared twice at the BBC Proms in 2016 and 2019. He now holds the title of Conductor Laureate in recognition of the vast artistic contribution he gave to the Orchestra and City of Belfast during his three year tenure.
In January 2021, Payare was announced as the next Music Director of Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal from the 22-23 season.
Payare kicks off the 21-22 season with his San Diego Symphony, to inaugurate the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, their stunning new open-air venue. He then looks forward to giving his first concerts as Music Director Designate of Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, opening their season with concerts at La Maison Symphonique as well as Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Further highlights in the 21-22 season include debuts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Houston Symphony as well as his subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As an opera conductor, he made his acclaimed debut at Glyndebourne Festival in 2019 conducting Barbiere and has conducted Madame Butterfly and La Boheme for Royal Swedish Opera and a new production of La Traviata at Malmo Opera. During the 21-22 season, Payare will make his debut at the Danish Opera conducting Tosca. In July 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia and in July 2015 he was appointed Principal Conductor and conducted performances of Gounod ‘Romeo and Juliette’ and a performance of Beethoven Symphony No 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel.
An inspiration to young musicians, Payare has forged a close relationship with the Royal College of Music in London where he visits every season to lead their Symphony Orchestra and has led projects with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas and the Filarmonica Joven de Colombia.
Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu. He has conducted all the major orchestras including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Having also served as Principal Horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle and Lorin Maazel.
In May 2012, Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition.