Bläserensemble des Niederösterreichischen Tonkünstlerorchesters
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Bläserensemble des Niederösterreichischen Tonkünstlerorchesters

General Information

The Tonkünstler Orchestra Niederösterreich is among the most important institutions on the Austrian music scene. The main focus of the orchestra’s artistic work is the traditional repertoire, ranging from the classical to the Romantic period through to the 20th century; at the same time, the Tonkünstler set trends in the field of contemporary music. The orchestra thus continues its path of more than 100 years on the Austrian and international concert scenes. Andrés Orozco-Estrada, who was born in Colombia and has been active on the Viennese music scene since 1997, took on the post as Music Director at the start of the 09-10 season. Under his direction the Tonkünstler have presented programmes which were very well received both by the audience and the press. With the beginning of the 15-16 season, the Japanese conductor Yutaka Sado will follow as new Music Director. Former Music Directors include Walter Weller, Heinz Wallberg, Miltiades Caridis, Fabio Luisi and Kristjan Järvi. Furthermore, the Tonkünstler have collaborated with famous guest conductors such as Michael Schønwandt, Jun Märkl, Jeffrey Tate, Hugh Wolff, Andrew Litton, Giovanni Antonini, Christopher Hogwood, Michail Jurowski, Christian Zacharias and Heinz Holliger.


The Tonkünstler Orchestra is innovative in treading alternative paths regarding its programmes and by organising various initiatives. The inclusion of genres such as jazz and world music within the scope of the «Plugged-In» series ensures that the orchestra remains up-to-date at all times. By incorporating contemporary works into their programmes, the Tonkünstler establish ties to current developments on the music scene: each subscription season is opened with the first performance of a commissioned work under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Each year, a composer in residence collaborates with the Tonkünstler in the scope of the Grafenegg Festival. So far, composers of the likes of Krzysztof Penderecki, Kurt Schwertsik, Arvo Pärt, James MacMillan, Brett Dean, HK Gruber, Friedrich Cerha, Cristóbal Halffter and Tan Dun have written commissioned works for the Tonkünstler Orchestra. The Tonkünstler were the first Austrian orchestra to establish a department for music didactics in 2003: the Tonspiele have since generated enthusiasm for music among over 65,000 children and youths, and are the largest music didactics programme in Austria. 


The orchestra’s residences are the Musikverein in Vienna as well as the Festspielhaus St Pölten and Grafenegg in Lower Austria. The latter boasts two acoustically outstanding venues: the Wolkenturm and the Auditorium. The Tonkünstler play concerts in Grafenegg in their capacity as orchestra in residence. Each year, the Midsummer Night’s Gala – broadcast on the radio and TV in Austria as well as in other European countries – opens the summer season in Grafenegg. 


Tours are an important pillar of the orchestral work and have taken the Tonkünstler to Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, the Baltic States and Japan in past seasons. In 2011 the Tonkünstler Orchestra guest-performed at the International George Enescu Festival and opened the Moravian Autumn in Brno under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. In the 13-14 season an extensive tour through Great Britain with Andrés Orozco-Estrada is on the agenda. Famous soloists who have performed concerts together with the orchestra include Renée Fleming, Angelika Kirchschlager, Anne Sofie von Otter, Ian Bostridge and Bryn Terfel as well as Janine Jansen, Lisa Batiashvili, Sol Gabetta, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Hope, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Fazil Say and Lang Lang.


CD recordings display the orchestra’s artistic profile. Recent recordings include the Symphony No. 2 «Lobgesang» by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, both under the direction of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Further releases include Leonard Bernstein’s «Mass», Joseph Haydn’s Paris Symphonies and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Gustav Mahler’s version, all under the direction of Kristjan Järvi. Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s «Sommernachtstraum», Schumann’s «Manfred», Franz Schmidt’s «Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln» as well as «Desert Music» by Steve Reich and «Zeitstimmung»/«Rough Music» by HK Gruber are also available. The CD «ZEIT:PUNKTE» was released in 2012, featuring three commissioned works which were specially composed for the season openings under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. The release of the «Symphonie fantastique» by Berlioz on OehmsClassics in early 2013 marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration with the renowned record label. In the autumn of 2013 the Tonspiele project «Pauls Reise» («Paul’s journey») was published as a book and released on CD.


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