The NNO was established in 1862, which makes it Netherlands' oldest professional symphony orchestra. It brings symphonic music to life in the three Northern provinces by performing approximately 120 concerts every season: in concert halls, in the open air, during festivals and at schools. The orchestra also regularly travels to stages elsewhere in the country, such as to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and De Doelen in Rotterdam.
The NNO is the most versatile orchestra in the Netherlands. Its programming is surprising and diverse; from pure and unadulterated classical to crossovers with other music genres. The orchestra takes pleasure from acquainting 'new ears' with symphonic music, for example through the Pieter Roelf Youth Concerts and the free open air lunch concerts. The NNO is also a regular on the radio. There is close collaboration with various other art institutions, the Prins Claus Conservatory
and the conservatories in Amsterdam and The Hague.
The principal guest conductor of the orchestra is Antony Hermus. Top conductors such as Viktor Liberman, Jean Fournet, Franz Paul Decker, Alain Lombard, Sergiu Comissiona, Richard Dufallo, Alexander Verdernikov, Susanna Mälkki and Nikolai Alexeev are previous conductors of the NNO. Currently we are working with conductors such as Jan Willem de Vriend, Michael Jurowski and Stefan Vladar.
At festivals, the orchestra also regularly pays homage to prominent, current international composers. This is how Wolfgang Rihm (2001), Terry Riley (2002), Hans Werner Henze (2003), Arvo Pärt (2004), Sir Harrison Birtwistle (2005), Heiner Goebbels & Sofia Gubaidulina (2006), Philip Glass (2007 and 2013), Laurie Anderson (2008), Michael Nyman (2009) and Steve Vai (2010 and 2013) came to visit Groningen for the performance of their music.
The orchestra consists of 75 permanent orchestra members and is supplemented with substitutes for large productions.
Artistically unconventional: that is the tenet that guides the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in its journey as a 21st century symphony orchestra. The role of a master interpreter of a symphonic music repertoire is no longer something that can be taken for granted. The world is changing and the NNO is changing with it. The NNO’s roots lie in 400 years of Western European music history. At its core are the Romantic and High Romantic styles with music from composers such as Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bruckner, Debussy, and Ravel. It aspires to give life to this music through melodic interpretations by prestigious conductors at the highest level. We will certainly rise to the occasion in the coming season with our new permanent guest conductor Antony Hermus, honorary conductor Stefan Asbury and conductor emeritus Michel Tabachnik as well as top conductors emerging on the international scene such as Michal Nesterowicz, and Han-Na Chang. The reputation that the NNO has established for itself ensures that stars from around the world such as Vadim Repin and Nelson Goerner can easily make their way to the north.
The NNO has been at the forefront of developing new ways of thinking about the future of symphony orchestras. Our innovative approach has led to some stunning combinations and sensational projects, demonstrating our orchestra’s ability to represent the entire northern region as well as all of the Netherlands. This began twelve years ago when the NNO started working with rappers and we were the very first to play the music of Armin van Buuren.
Our versatile orchestra with its range of special collaborations attracts a great diversity of visitors. By playing film scores, for example, we bring an entirely new audience in contact with the enormous power of a large orchestra, which is an impressive experience for many people. Working together with artists such as Goran Bregovic, DJ Jeff Mills, and pop legend Todd Rundgren in the 2015/16 offered both the NNO and the artists plenty of new insights and fresh perspectives. The focus here is on enjoying the music, for the orchestra, the artists and the audience.
This season for the very first time, the NNO has an ‘artist in residence’. And not just any artist. None other than Eric Corton was chosen to hold this honor. With Eric Corton as presenter, film connoisseur, and singer in our new Rolling Stones project, ‘artist in residence’ takes on a whole new dimension. We are particularly proud of our special David Bowie concert that will be presented by Eric Corton. The concert has been organized in close collaboration with the Groninger Museum. David Bowie was inspired by the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss and his playlist always includes John Adams! This offers an entirely new perspective of the cult artist David Bowie.
The NNO is being contracted outside of the northern region with increasing frequency. In the coming season, the orchestra will give four performances in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw and one performance in the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in addition to four performances in the Vredenburg in Utrecht. At the Vredenburg and the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, the NNO will take special pause to celebrate Arvo Pärt’s 80th birthday in 2015. The occasion will be commemorated with 2 premieres from Arvo Pärt and the Dutch spiritual composer, Joep Franssens, and will present Ralph van Raat in his world premiere piano concert.
In addition to performing in concert halls, we will also be holding open air performances, such as in Groningen’s Korrewegwijk and Blauwestad. People who wouldn’t generally attend performances in the concert halls will come out to enjoy these NNO outdoor performances. The NNO is also reaching out to the public in a number of other ways, including performing with small ensembles at living room concerts or festivals. The leaders of our orchestra give lessons at the conservatory and music schools. Our musicians are also active in educational projects, giving many primary school children the opportunity to experience our musicians’ captivating musical performances. These efforts are motivated by our desire to share our passion and drive with others, both during the concert as well as afterwards.
We hope to pleasantly surprise you in the coming season with both our regular program as well as our exciting collaborations. We look forward to seeing you at our concerts!
Ingeborg Walinga, General Manager
Marcel Mandos, Artistic Leader
The Dutch conductor Antony Hermus will spend a period of three years as permanent conductor at the NNO starting in August 2015. He will conduct three orchestra productions in the coming season. These performances will include such works as Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss, and Philip Glass’ Heroes Symphony.
In the fall of 2013, Hermus successfully worked together with the NNO on a production of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in conjunction with the Nederlandse Reisopera, which was praised by both critics and public alike. Artistic Leader Marcel Mandos had this to say about the production: ‘At the time, a kind of tight-knit, intense artistic synergie emerged between Hermus and the NNO, which was incredibly inspiring for both sides. This synergie was further entrenched when Hermus conducted the highly successful performance of Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony with us this past October.’
We are especially enthusiastic about Antony Hermus’ eagerness to get involved with the NNO. Working with Hermus will enable the orchestra to expand on its progress and give further shape to its artistic approach. Thanks to his powerful interpretations and perspectives, Hermus is considered an extraordinarily inspiring conductor.
Hermus himself is looking forward to this lasting collaboration with the NNO: ‘The NNO is a tremendously versatile orchestra that convincingly embodies the qualities of a modern 21st century orchestra. It is a great privilege for me to make music on such an exceptional level with these enthusiastic musicians. I am looking forward to all of the musical adventures we will experience together in the coming years!’
After four years, British conductor Stefan Asbury is changing his position as chief conductor to that of an honorary conductorship with the NNO as of August 2015. As a conscientious and passionate chief conductor, Asbury allowed the orchestra to shine with all the great classics. During the 2015/16 season, Asbury conducted a number of concerts from the extensive repertoire of the Romantic style.
As of August 2015, Michel Tabachnik has been designated Conductor Emeritus of the NNO. With this title, the NNO wishes to express its appreciation of Tabachnik and all of his successful collaborations with the NNO since 2015. During his six seasons as chief conductor, he has brought the NNO to a high level of achievement, leaving a strong impression on the public as a result of his interpretation and vision.
Presenter and DJ Eric Corton will be the NNO’s artist in residence during the coming season. An unusual choice, but definitely one that was well-considered, explains Artistic Leader and Programmer Marcel Mandos. ‘Naming a pop artist as artist in residence is innovative and daring. This choice allows us to highlight our unconventional individuality.’
I first really got the know the NNO when I presented their program on film heroes. Before that, I was only familiar with it by name and somewhat by reputation. I received an invitation to say a little something about the films that the orchestra had performed the music from. As a film connoisseur, actor, and musician, I was happy to take part. From the very first notes, I immediately knew how unbelievably great and exceptionally dynamic this orchestra was. The Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber was so desperately beautifully executed, that I literally listened with tears in my eyes on each of the following evenings. Listened, but above all, experienced. This orchestra has the ability to capture you and carry you through the exquisite music it plays. That is what music is to me: when it is played so well and so lovingly, it flies right past the ears and straight to the heart.
We have gotten to know each other much better now and my admiration for this amazing orchestra has only grown. It is a great honor for me to have been given the opportunity to be the artist in residence this year. This is something that is usually reserved for musicians with a reputation and track record in the classical world. Not some acting, radio-talking, ex-rock musician like me. But regardless ... they are allowing me to do some amazing things all season long. Together with ‘my’ orchestra. That’s what it has started to feel like recently. I look forward to all of the things we will discover together. In my role as narrator and entertainer, but maybe somewhat as a musician, too. You never know. We certainly aim to surprise and amaze you as our guests. As it should be and has to be if you want to distinguish yourself as an orchestra. Something that the NNO will certainly accomplish with this move, and it is something that I am pouring my heart and soul into. We hope to captivate you ... but one way or the other we will definitely surprise you.
During the coming season, Anthony Fiumara will serve as composer in residence for the NNO. One of the compositions that Fiumara has already completed is ‘As I Opened Fire,’ a festival overture composed for the reopening of the Theater De Lawei in Drachten. The composer is currently creating two other works. Artistic Leader and Programmer Marcel Mandos is extremely pleased with the collaboration: ‘Fiumara is a young composer with two feet firmly planted in the present. He has left his academic training behind him and is now creating modern, dynamic compositions. Fiumara’s work beautifully reflects the fragment of time in which we live.’ Fiumara has created a composition for the coming season’s concert ‘What’s on David Bowie’s Playlist?’.
9724 DA Groningen
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