Conductors & Piano
Thomas Adès CBE
Renowned as both a composer and a performer, Thomas Adès works regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies and festivals.
Thomas appears regularly with, among others, the Los Angeles, New York and London Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, London, BBC and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras. In opera, he recently conducted his latest opera The Exterminating Angel at the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House and at the Salzburg Festival. The piece was awarded World Premiere of the Year at the 2017 Opera Awards.
This season will see the release of Thomas’ album of solo piano music by Janacek, and he will join Simon Keenlyside in a recital of Schubert’s Winterreise at the Vienna State Opera. His other engagements this season include a residency with the Royal Concertgebouworkest, conducting the London and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Thomas also returns to the Royal Opera House twice this season, to conduct Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and the premiere of his new ballet The Dante Project.
David Afkham has just been announced as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquestra y Coro Nacional de España from September 2019. This position will build on the success of his tenure as Principal Conductor of the orchestra since 2014, which has featured critically acclaimed performances of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Bruckner Symphony No. 9, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Brahms’ Requiem, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, as well as several world premieres and semi-staged projects with Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer, Strauss’ Elektra, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1983, David Afkham is in high demand as a guest conductor with some of the world’s finest orchestras and opera houses, and has established a reputation as one of the most sought-after conductors to emerge from Germany in recent years.
Future highlights as a guest conductor include returns with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker, HR Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Swedish Radio Symphony, Orchestra of Accademia Santa Cecilia and NHK Symphony Orchestra, as well as debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra and Dresden Philharmonic.
As an opera conductor, David Afkham made a noted debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014, with Verdi’s La Traviata, later reviving the production for performances around the UK and Ireland for Glyndebourne on Tour. In 2017, he conducted Ginastera’s Bomarzo at Teatro Real in Madrid in a new production by Pierre Audi, to unanimous critical acclaim, and leading to an immediate re-invitation. In season 18/19 he made his German opera debut at Frankfurt Opera with Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel, followed by Stuttgart Opera with Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer. He opens his 19/20 season at Theater an der Wien with Dvorak’s Rusalka. Future opera plans include Wagner’s Parsifal, Weinberg’s The Passenger, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Strauss’ Arabella.
David Afkham began piano and violin lessons at the age of six in his native Freiburg. At 15, he entered the city’s University of Music to pursue studies in piano, music theory and conducting and continued his studies at the Liszt School of Music in Weimar. David Afkham was the first recipient of the ‘Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent’ and assisted Maestro Bernard Haitink in a number of major projects including symphony cycles with the Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. He was the winner of the 2008 Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, and was the inaugural recipient of the ‘Nestle and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ in 2010. He and was Assistant Conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester 2009-2012.
Highlights among David’s guest conducting projects to date include the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the 2016 and 2017 Tanglewood festivals, the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, DSO-Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre National de France, Gothenburg Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the Mostly Mozart Festival New York, tours with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and regular appearances at the Musikverein, Vienna with the Wiener Symphoniker and the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester.
For full biography, please download Artists “publicity pack” with season biography and photos opposite.
Born in Milan, Giovanni studied at the Civica Scuola di Musica and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva. He is a founder member of the Baroque ensemble “Il Giardino Armonico”, which he has led since 1989. With this ensemble, he has appeared as conductor and soloist on the recorder and Baroque transverse flute in Europe, United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia. He is Artistic Director of the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Poland and Principal Guest Conductor of the Mozarteum Orchester and Kammerorchester Basel.
He has performed with many prestigious artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Isabel Faust, Viktoria Mullova, Giuliano Carmignola, Giovanni Sollima, Sol Gabetta, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Sumi Jo, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Emmanuel Pahud. Renowned for his refined and innovative interpretation of the classical and baroque repertoire, Antonini is also a regular guest with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester, Orquesta Nacional de España and Leipzig Gewandhausorchester.
His opera productions have included Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Handel’s Alcina at Teatro alla Scala in Milano and Opernhaus Zurich, Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli at Salzburg Festival. In 2018 he conducted Orlando at Theater an der Wien and returned to Opernhaus Zurich for Idomeneo. During the 19-20 season, Antonini conducts Giulio Cesare at La Scala and returns to Mozarteum Orchester, Tonhalle Orchester, Czech Philhamonic and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Giovanni is artistic director of the Haydn 2032 project, created to realise a vision to record and perform with Il Giardino Armonico and Kammerorchester Basel, the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn by the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Volumes 1-6 have been released on the Alpha Classics label with two further volumes planned for release each year in the future.
Piano & Conductors
Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942, and studied piano under his parents. At age 11, he took part in conducting classes in Salzburg, under Igor Markevich
In 1954, Daniel began his recording career as a pianist. In the 1960s, he recorded Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with Otto Klemperer, Brahm’s Piano Concertos with Sir John Barbirolli, and the Mozart piano concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, this time serving both as pianist and conductor.
Ever since his conducting debut in 1967 in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Daniel has been in great demand with leading orchestras around the world. Between 1975 and 1989, he was principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris, and he held the position of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra between 1991 and 2006. Since 1992, Barenboim has been General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where he was also artistic director from 1992 to August 2002. In 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Principal Conductor for Life, and in March 2003, he and the Staatskapelle were honoured with the Wilhelm-Furtwängler-Preis.
Beside his great classic-romantic repertoire, Daniel continues to focus on contemporary music.
Sir George Benjamin
Born in 1960, George Benjamin began composing at the age of seven. In 1976 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Messiaen, after which he worked with Alexander Goehr at King’s College, Cambridge.
When Benjamin was only 20 years old, Ringed by the Flat Horizon was played at the BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Elder. Benjamin’s first operatic work Into the Little Hill, written with playwright Martin Crimp, was commissioned in 2006 by the Festival d’Automne in Paris. Their second collaboration, Written on Skin was premiered at the Aix-en-Provence festival in July 2012 and has since been performed by 20 international opera houses. A new collaboration with Martin Crimp, Lessons in Love and Violence, was premiered at the Royal Opera House in May 2018, under the composer’s baton.
As a conductor Benjamin has a broad repertoire and has conducted numerous world premieres, including important works by Rihm, Chin, Grisey and Ligeti. He regularly works with some of the world’s leading orchestras, amongst them the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern.
Since 2001 Benjamin has been the Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King‘s College, London and was made a Fellow of the College in 2017. Benjamin was made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015 and was knighted in the 2017 Birthday Honours.
His works are published by Faber Music and are recorded on Nimbus Records.
Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of baroque and classical repertoire and since 2007 has been Artistic Director of The English Concert, one of Europe’s finest period orchestras. In 2013, following regular guest appearances for Santa Fe Opera, he became their Chief Conductor and in 2018 assumed the Music Directorship. Since taking up his position, he has conducted Cosi fan tutte, Fidelio, La Finta Giardiniera, Romeo et Juliette, Alcina and Candide. In the 2019 season, he also performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming. Born in Liverpool, Harry studied at the Royal College of Music and the University of Oxford.
Plans for the 2019/20 season include return visits to English National Opera (Orphée et Euridice), New York Philharmonic for performances of Messiah, The Metropolitan Opera (Agrippina and Cosi fan tutte) and Royal Northern Sinfonia. The English Concert continues its Handel opera series with performances of Rodelinda across Europe and the US, including Carnegie Hall and LA Opera. He will also conduct the orchestra at Wigmore Hall, the Two Moors Festival at Exeter Cathedral joined by Dame Sarah Connolly, performances of Gabriel with Alison Balsom at Saffron Hall and Barbican Centre. The orchestra will also embark on a tour of Korea and China with soprano Sumi Jo. In summer 2020, Harry conducts both Die Zauberflöte and Rusalka for Santa Fe Opera.
French-born Alexandre Bloch assumed the position of Music Director of Orchestre National de Lille (ONL) at the start of the 2016/17 season and has been Principal Guest Conductor of Düsseldorfer Symphoniker since September 2015.
Plans for the 2019/20 season with Lille include performances at the Bucharest Festival, the continuation of their Mahler Cycle (Symphonies 6, 7, 8 and 9) in Lille and performances of Puccini’s Turandot. The partnership’s strong commitment to contemporary music continues, including a new co-commission with the London Philharmonic Orchestra of a new work by celebrated Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. January 2020 will see the orchestra’s first UK tour in many years, including concerts in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and Sage Gateshead. Guest conducting includes first visits to Het Gelders Orkest, MDR Sinfonieorchester, Bochumer Symphoniker, Queensland Symphony Orchestra and return visists to Turku Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Dusseldorfer Symphoniker, where programmes include Buckner’s Symphony No. 7 and collaboration with international renowned soloists including Till Fellner and Alexej Gerassimez.
Violin & Conductors
Violinist Guy Braunstein was born in Tel Aviv and studied under the guidance of Chaim Taub and later in New York with Glenn Dicterow and Pinchas Zuckerman.
He started performing as an international soloist and a chamber musician at a young age and has since performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors. His chamber music collaborations have included projects with Issac Stern, András Schiff, Zubin Mehta, Maurizio Pollini, Yefim Bronfman, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, Mitsuko Uchida and Angelika Kirschlager to name a few.
He was the youngest person ever to be appointed concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2000, a position he held for twelve years before leaving to pursue his solo career.
Recent highlights include the position of Artist-in-Residence with the Trondheim Symphoniker for the 17/18 season which showcased Guy’s multi-faceted musicianship with projects as both conductor and soloist. Further highlights include concerto debuts with Maggio Musicale Fiorentino & the Tampere Philharmonia. Recent conducting highlights include debuts with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as well as returns to the Pierre Boulez saal for recital performances at the Elbphilharmonie with the Hamburger Symphoniker, where he holds the position of Associate Artist.
In 19/20, Guy will be Artist in Residence with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and will return to the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Symphoniker Hamburg as both soloist, conductor and in play-direct capacities. Other highlights include debuts with the Vancouver Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s as well as concerts with the Dresdner Philharmonie, Sinfonie Orchester Berlin, Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona, Lapland Chamber Orchestra and Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s and extensive touring with the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra
Guy plays a rare violin made by Francesco Roggieri in 1679.