The Gulbenkian Music season is built on two central pillars: the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir. The two groups have been working at the highest level for more than half a century. In recent years, they have diversified their activities, regularly making national and international tours and taking music to schools and other places where it is less common to hear it.
The quality and attractiveness of our ensembles are put to the test every week. Besides the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir, our season includes international references with which their performance is often compared. The fact that, last season, virtually all of their concerts were sold out is a sign of the importance of their work.
Music is a unifying factor in society. At key moments in our lives, we realise that it can express ideas and feelings that we cannot translate into words. An historic event such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, symbol of a divided Europe, will remain in our memories associated with the image of Mstislav Rostropovitch playing Bach on his cello next to the toppled wall. Right at that moment, music was able to convey a message of freedom and tolerance. A message that can be understood by us all.
The power of Music emanates from its universality. It can entertain, it can challenge and it can bring us together. That's why it's important to integrate music into our lives. It’s especially important in the fragmented world we see around us, one which is so difficult to understand. Our season reflects this belief in the power of music as a driving force for movement and change.
Team of Conductors
The Gulbenkian Orchestra will begin the season with a new team of conductors, led by Lorenzo Viotti, its new Chief Conductor. This team will ensure the quality and diversity of our programmes. One of the orchestra's best features is its ability to play music from different periods in a convincing way, be it historically grounded Baroque music or new works by contemporary composers. The musical breadth of our resident conductors will enable the orchestra to shine in all repertoires.
The French-Swiss conductor Lorenzo Viotti has already found his audience in the concerts he has directed in the Grand Auditorium. He will continue to captivate, challenge and amaze listeners through his inspired leadership. Lorenzo Viotti is passionate about opera, and each season he will direct a new production in the Great Auditorium. He will also invite the public to different spaces where we will listen to music in a novel way, such as in June, when Mozart's Requiem will be performed in the Cloister of the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. He is a fervent communicator, who will also share his enthusiasm for music with the audience before each concert.
Giancarlo Guerrero, from Costa Rica but who has lived in the United States of America for several years, is an experienced conductor who exerts his charm as much on the musicians as the audience. He succeeds Susanna Mälkki as the new Principal Guest Conductor. Besides the classical repertoire, he will broaden our musical experiences and bring us both Latin and contemporary music.
Nuno Coelho, the Portuguese conductor who won the Orquestra de Cadaqués International Conducting Competition in December 2017, is the new Guest Conductor. He graduated as a violinist and conductor and has already embarked on an international career. In addition to being able to see and hear the creative direction of Nuno Coelho in different musical genres, in January 2019 the young conductor will lead our New Year's Concert, starting a new tradition in the early days of the year.
Leonardo García Alarcón, an Argentinian conductor, is already well known to those Gulbenkian audiences that have had the opportunity to enjoy his energetic interpretations of the Baroque and Classical repertoires. He will be the Associate Conductor, regularly conducting the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir. Occasionally, he will also visit us with his Cappella Mediterranea ensemble.
We also welcome the continuation of Joana Carneiro as Artistic Director of the Estágio Gulbenkian para Orquestra (EGO), our youth orchestral project that brings together talented Portuguese musicians in the final phase of their studies and at the beginning of their professional careers. Joana Carneiro will also continue her collaboration with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in a number of projects.
The Gulbenkian Choir will continue to be directed under the firm leadership of Michel Corboz, Chief Conductor, and Jorge Matta, Deputy Conductor. The choir, like the orchestra, is scalable and performs music from different periods and in various musical styles. The choir and orchestra will join forces on various occasions, but will also perform a cappella in different venues in Lisbon and elsewhere in Portugal.
Continuing the trend begun in the 2017/18 season, Gulbenkian Music will continue to blend musical styles and traditions under three different themes. In September, we will embark on the series Music in Time, from Bach to Boulez.
In November, in collaboration with Fundación Juan March (Madrid), we will present the Iberia theme, a panoramic view of the ancient links between the music of Portugal and Spain, including several recently rediscovered compositions. A journey into our collective memory.
The third theme, Music in the Feminine, gives the stage to artists who are sometimes still very neglected in today’s programming. A powerful creative image of women from different cultures and with different experiences in a series of concerts in late January.
Finally, we’ll continue the popular cycles of piano recitals, broadcasts from the MET Opera, Great Performers and other visiting artists. Explore the 2018/19 season schedule to find all our proposals. We hope you share our passion for Music, and hope everyone feels warmly welcomed to Gulbenkian Music!
Risto Nieminen - Director, Music Service
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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 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 contextualize, decode and create a relationship with the music.
In a world increasingly characterized by sensory overload, there are few things as basic and memorable as witnessing a truly great pianist, alone on the stage, completely immersed in an instrument of almost limitless resources. Murray Perahia, Grigory Sokolov, Arcadi Volodos and Piotr Anderszewski will continue to remind us why the Piano Cycle attracts the full engagement of the public.
The greatest works of the global repertoire are of limited benefit if they're not interpreted by the most inspired artists. Every year, this cycle brings the major names to the Gulbenkian to breathe new life into any piece ever created. Gustavo Dudamel and Martha Argerich are just two examples of this golden touch in a year marked by the residence of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Music through Time: From Bach to Boulez
This thematic period will make us travel through a huge temporal arc, from the Renaissance and Baroque periods to contemporary languages, through the interpretations of an ensemble specialising in ancient music, such as Jordi Savall’s Hespèrion XXI, or one of the experts on Boulez music, like the violinist Michael Barenboim, a member of the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival Ensemble.
Iberia: Music across Portugal and Spain
Over two days, four concerts will bring together a series of works of Iberian origin or inspiration, as well as pieces that document and the paths of musicians who built their career by crossing to the other side of the border. This is what we’ll hear in “Meandros Musicais do Tejo”, by Ana Quintans and Carlos Mena, and in the carefully devised programme by Pedro Teixeira for the Gulbenkian Choir.
Women in Music
This thematic period dedicated to women’s role in music, will bring performances by Rokia Traoré from Mali, by Iranian sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat, and by fado singer Aldina Duarte, a concert by the Gulbenkian Orchestra with violinist Carolin Widmann, conducted by Tianyi Lu, and two performances by pianist Joana Gama.
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.
Met Opera Live in HD
In just a few years, the award-winning live broadcasts from the New York Metropolitan Opera House to the Grand Auditorium have become a must of every new season. Using cutting-edge technical facilities, Met Opera Live in HD offers us the most extraordinary modern opera productions – from Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti to Massenet and Adès.
Jazz em Agosto
For the first time in its history, the entire Jazz em Agosto programme is organised around a single musician. And the choice could hardly fall on a more striking name – both for the history of the festival and for the fundamental course of music that we have been able to hear in the last decades.
Our Pre-Concert Talks were created to provide the audience with complementary information about the repertoires to be played in some concerts of the Gulbenkian Music season. These small interventions allow a better understanding of the pieces and composers, with the help of comments and the listening of musical excerpts.