What's New with Grafenegg's Orchestras in ResidenceGood things often come in threes.
Good things often come in threes, and this number holds a special significance here at Grafenegg. Besides our three central venues – the open air stage Wolkenturm, the Auditorium concert hall, and the Reitschule, recently expanded with the addition of the Rudolf Buchbinder Hall – the ensembles most closely connected to the festival also form a trio. The Tonkunstler Orchestra of Lower Austria first performed in Grafenegg more than 50 years ago, at a time when the idea of a festival with in- ternational acclaim in Lower Austria was a distant dream. The young musicians of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO), in collaboration with soloists and conductors from around the world, have been providing high-quality musical enjoyment and a great atmosphere at the Wolkenturm for almost 15 years. More recently, the Grafenegg Academy Orchestra has brought aspiring professional musicians to the castle grounds each summer to explore new forms of collaboration and programme design under the guidance of a renowned curatorial team. The programme motivates these musicians by revitalising their routines, while providing audiences with a compelling concert experience.
The Tonkunstler Orchestra will see a change at the conductor's podium: Yutaka Sado, who has led the orchestra since 2015, will pass the baton to Fabien Gabel at the end of the 24/25 season. Gabel has already achieved significant success with the orchestra, including performances in Grafenegg as part of our Seasonal Sounds concert series. A seamless transition is ensured, as both chief conductors will be present for the summer 2024 festival season. Yutaka Sado will conduct Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F with Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist and Schönberg's symphonic poem «Pelleas and Melisande» during his final festival opening at the Wolkenturm. A few days later, Gabel, who regularly stands at the podium of major ensembles from London, Oslo, Berlin, Chicago, and Cleveland, and is known for his insightful programmes, will step in front of his future orchestra at the Wolkenturm. The audience will be treated to enchanting French soundscapes, masterfully crafted by Maurice Ravel and Paul Dukas.
Founded in 1976, the European Union Youth Orchestra is among the world’s leading youth orchestras. Comprising young musicians from all 27 EU member states, it receives more than 2,500 applications each year. The orchestra relocated its headquarters from the northern Italian city of Ferrara to Grafenegg in 2023. The EUYO's annual summer tour also kicks off in Grafenegg in 2024, with conductors Iván Fischer and Gianandrea Noseda, along with pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. The orchestra is set to captivate its audience with works by Ernst von Dohnányi, Gustav Mahler, Benjamin Britten, and Richard Strauss. EUYO consistently enriches Grafenegg's programme through innovative formats such as the popular Late Night Sessions.
And what's new with the Grafenegg Academy and its orchestra? Changes at this relatively young institution are largely part of its continuous organic development. Following significant successes in recent years, Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov will assume the leadership of the Grafenegg Academy in 2024. Colin Currie continues to accompany the Academy, serving as guest artist and soloist.
We can happily anticipate the visionary work of Ilan Volkov, who will bring to the Academy his experience in instructing orchestras on improvisation. Let's look forward to a programme that will take musicians from all around the world on an exciting journey of discovery, one they will undoubtedly share with our audiences through captivating interpretations.