Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir
The centrepieces of each Gulbenkian Music Season are, naturally, the concerts by its two groups: the Gulbenkian Choir and the Gulbenkian Orchestra. These two historic ensembles in Portuguese and European music form an important part of each season's programme, in performances with prestigious international soloists and conductors. The care taken in the preparation of each programme is reflected in the choice of great works from the repertoire for orchestra, or choir and orchestra, along with lesser-known pieces, premières of new works, and even live interpretations of soundtracks, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The connection to music should start early and the Sunday Concerts, with a commentary, in a relaxed atmosphere designed to be enjoyed by the whole family, are a clear invitation to discover works, composers and artists. The performances in each concert are accompanied by explanations that help contextualise, decode and create a relationship with the music. Furthermore, curiosity and discovery are also stimulated through a varied programme and appealing themes like the Christmases of the World, the Great Opera Choruses and Music and Animals.
Every season, Gulbenkian Music opens its doors to certain soloists and ensembles of the highest quality and great international prestige, providing its audiences with the opportunity to hear the most inspired of today's musicians. In some cases, such as the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, Jordi Savall and András Schiff, this experience has gone on for several years, building a successful, knowledgeable relationship between these Great Performers and their audience, who know how unmissable each of these concerts is.
It is essential in the programming of each season to have the opportunity to hear some of the world's most captivating lyric singers, to be able to listen to the wonderful repertoire of songs to which the great composers devoted part of their work. The Lieder of Brahms, Wagner, Berg and Richard Strauss, sung by Karita Mattila, and the superlative Waltraud Meier singing with the Gulbenkian Orchestra will surely be amongst the most memorable and exciting moments of 2016/17, for which everyone will later want to say they were present.
At a time when he had already retired from the stage, Alfred Brendel, one of the greatest pianists of the last century, confessed that he was continuing to discover Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata, considered to be the most demanding piece in the solo piano repertoire. He justified it, saying that it was 'inexhaustible'. The wonder that the recitals by the greatest pianists in the world, that Gulbenkian Music receives each season, is also inexhaustible, whether they be by absolute masters such as Grigory Sokolov or Mitsuko Uchida, examples of sheer brilliance like Hélène Grimaud or Pedro Burmester, or by new talent such as Igor Levit or Conrad Tao.
It is a cliché to state that one ought to know the past in order to properly build the present and anticipate the future. In written music, this truism is even more fundamental, enabling a repertoire from the distant past to be brought to life which, so often, obliges us to reinterpret everything that happened after. There is almost, therefore, an element of detective work carried out by groups like Graindelavoix, that rescue from oblivion past works of polyphonic music, or like Il Pomo d'Oro, or Os Músicos do Tejo, with their inventive reinterpretations of the baroque repertoire.
If orchestral music has sumptuousness and majesty in its favour, chamber music is distinguished by the most intimate possibilities of small ensembles, that usually dispense with the presence of a conductor. Hence, groups like the Belcea Quartet and the Casals Quartet, who embark on a Mozart Marathon at Gulbenkian, devoted to the Austrian composer's string quartets, are notable for the extreme complicity between the musicians.
Gulbenkian Orchestra Soloists
The Gulbenkian Orchestra consists of professional musicians of great technical and artistic quality. Throughout the season, they also perform in free chamber music concerts, thus emerging from the anonymity of their roles within the orchestra. While making themselves much more visible, they also make a considerable contribution to a greater appreciation of chamber music as a whole, from the standard repertoire to the premières of new works.
In a time when the abundance of musical approaches suggests the search for new performance formulas, it is up to the younger musician generations to reshape the relationship between artists and their audiences. This is the challenge that we deliver to the young musicians who were selected by ECHO – European Concert Hall Organisation, which embodies some of the most prestigious concert halls in Europe. Among the involved institutions, young musicians of exceptional talent are annually selected to receive training on how to better manage their careers.
Continuing the very successful experience which began in 2014, the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir invite once more the audience to join them in the interpretation of their choral-symphonic repertoires. Händel’s Messiah was the chosen piece for the 3rd edition of the participatory concerts, a model that has been tested for almost two decades by Fundacio La Caixa, in Barcelona, an institution with which the Gulbenkian Foundation has a protocol in these areas, and that contributes to the nourishment of the amateur musical practice and the deepening of the individual musical experience.
Met Opera Live in HD
To see and hear the heartrending passion of Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, writing a letter to her beloved, sung by soprano Anna Netrebko? To watch the doomed love of Violetta and Alfredo in La Traviata, as if it were happening right in front of us? It has already become a classic in Gulbenkian Music seasons to broadcast live, large screen, high definition, highlights from the season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, in an award-winning series that allows the public to witness the most notable opera productions of our time.
Daniel Barenboim, Edward W. Said and Jordi Savall are among those who have always believed that music can be an effective means of bringing peoples together and in resolving conflict. It is this discovery of the other, through their musical tradition and their culture that we propose in the World Music cycle, through closer experience of the Brazilian songs of Adriana Calcanhotto and Chico Buarque (sung by Antonio Zambujo), along with the exemplary activism of Angélique Kidjo, one of the great voices from Africa, and the revelation of the transcendental sufi songs of Asif Ali Khan, from Pakistan.
Jazz em Agosto
Jazz em Agosto has, since 1984, brought to Gulbenkian a showcase of the most creative and innovative examples of jazz and improvised music. Instead of just looking back at the past and the richness of a musical genre that changed the history of music in the 20th century, the festival has become a reference as it seeks new directions and identifies new voices that are reshaping this language in contemporaneity. Amongst many others, the seminal Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and the Art Ensemble of Chicago have all taken to the stage here, along with the new proposals of John Zorn, Mats Gustafsson and Peter Evans.
Artist of the City
In choosing Faustin Linyekula, the biennial festival Artista na Cidade invites an artist who employs various art forms – dance, theatre, music, video, literature – to create an outspoken political work. Born in a country of great contrasts and contradictions, Faustin Linyekula never gets tired of speaking about it. Throughout his work, he presents a continuous narrative of colonial and post-colonial (if any) history, he mourns the complete devastation of his country at the hands of never-ending wars, he exposes the ruling kleptocracy, and he denounces the misery and hunger of his fellow countrymen.