The Bamberg Symphony – Bavarian State Philharmonic has always enjoyed a special status in the music world. 7,000 concerts in more than 60 countries and 500 cities – with that record, the Bamberg Symphony is rightly considered the German touring orchestra. The circumstances of its birth make the Bamberg Symphony a mirror to German history. In 1946 former members of Prague’s German Philharmonic met fellow musicians who had also been obliged to flee their homes. In Bamberg they founded the “Bamberger Tonkünstlerorchester”, later renamed “Bamberger Symphoniker”. The link with Prague’s Orchestra makes Bamberg the inheritor of a musical tradition stretching back to the 19th and even 18th Centuries, to Mahler and Mozart – 230 years of Bohemian sound.
Evidence of the outstanding reputation it enjoys everywhere comes in constant invitations to visit leading festivals and to tour at home and abroad, and in prizes for the Orchestra’s recordings, e.g.
the MIDEM Classical Award, the International »Toblach Composing Hut« Record Prize or the ECHO Klassik.
That reputation is also in no small part due to the Principal and Guest Conductors who have led and shaped the Bamberg Symphony over the decades. Since January 2000, the Orchestra’s artistic direction has been in the hands of Jonathan Nott whose contract runs until summer 2016. Alongside him, Herbert Blomstedt has also played a distinguished role in Bamberg as Honorary Conductor since March 2006; in January 2016, Christoph Eschenbach was also appointed Honorary Conductor of the Orchestra; and from 2010 to 2013 Robin Ticciati was Principal Guest Conductor.
From autumn 2016, Jakub Hrůša will assume musical direction of the Orchestra. In view of the Bamberg Symphony’s history, the future Chief Conductor will once more, in its 70th year, bridge its past and its present. Jakub Hrůša will be the fifth Chief Conductor in the history of the Bamberg Symphony.
At the end of his tenure, Jonathan Nott will have conducted the Bamberg Symphony over 650 times – more often than any other conductor in the history of the Orchestra. He and the Bamberg Symphony appear regularly together as guests at all the top festivals. They performed several times at Lucerne Festival: in the summer 2015 with Giuseppe Verdi’s »Falstaff«, in the summer 2013, on the occasion of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday, with Wagner’s »Ring« cycle and in 2007 with Jonathan Nott as »artiste étoile«. In that year, they also performed for Pope Benedict XVI in the Papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Bishopric of Bamberg. In 2003 they made their joint debut at the Edinburgh International Festival, returning in 2005 and 2011 as orchestra in residence. Under Jonathan Nott the Bamberg Symphony has performed at the Salzburg Festival and Beijing Music Festival, at London’s Proms, the Festival in San Sebastián and, on four occasions, at New York’s Lincoln Center. They have undertaken extended trips round Europe, with concerts in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Luxemburg, London, Vienna and Berlin, and tours of Japan, China and South America. In autumn 2012, they went on their 13th tour to Japan, for the first time with their Honorary Conductor Herbert Blomstedt.
In addition the Bamberg Symphony is a frequent guest and renowned concert halls of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, such as Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Philharmonie Essen, Munich’s Herkulessaal, Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Tonhalle Zurich as well as at the leading festivals such as Beethovenfest Bonn, Rheingau Music Festival, Mozartfest Würzburg and Bad Kissingen Summer Festival.
In the season 2015/2016 the Bamberg Symphony tours to South America for the 9th time and fills two blank spaces on its »musical world map« with concerts in Monte Carlo and Oman. The Bamberg Symphony has produced a steady stream of CDs under Jonathan Nott’s direction, all in co-production with Bavarian Radio and the Swiss label Tudor. A project that they have been
working on for ten years was the recording of all completed symphonies of Gustav Mahler. Some of the recordings have been awarded international prizes such as the International “Toblach Composing Cabin” Record Prize and the 2010 MIDEM Classical Award. Furthermore, they have recorded the complete Symphonies of Schubert, coupled with contemporary compositions on the idea of ‘Schubert’, including works by Henze, Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Bruno Mantovani. Other recordings include the first version of Bruckner’s Third Symphony and music by Janáček and Stravinsky.
It is not only for its concerts that the Bamberg Symphony enjoys worldwide renown. In the spring of 2004 the Orchestra mounted the first edition of The Mahler Competition, the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, which was quickly recognized internationally as the most important forum of its kind. For Gustavo Dudamel, winner of the very first Competition, success in Bamberg lit the fuse under a meteoric rise which has seen the young Venezuelan courted by the world’s leading orchestras. The next Mahler Competition will take place in May 2016.
In 2010 Bamberg also launched its Orchestra Academy, which enables talented young musicians to spend two years experiencing the daily routine of work in a top ensemble. This gives them a springboard into a professional career in international orchestras and the Bamberg Symphony a guarantee that the legendary “Bamberg sound” will be passed on to the next generation of players.
This performance marks Bamberg Symphony’s La Jolla Music Society debut.