3 weeks, 8 countries, 12 festivals, 14 concerts, 120 musicians and staff – while most of us spend the last few weeks of August trying to fit in a few final trips to the beach, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will be on an extensive tour of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals. The orchestra begins on August 20th in Riga, Latvia and winds its way throughout the continent until September 9th with a final performance in the Italian coastal city of Rimini.
One highlight of the tour is the Salzburg Festival. In existence since 1920, it is widely considered the most important festival for opera, drama and concerts. The IPO will perform works by Schoenberg as well as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony, No. 6 “Pathetique” at the Felsenreitschule theater. The venue was built in 1693 and is recognizable to many from the movie “The Sound of Music” as the site of the music festival from which the von Trapps disappear.
A few days later, the orchestra arrives in Switzerland. After a performance at the Lucerne Festival they travel to the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, which was founded by the great violinist Yehudi Menhuin and has been held each summer since 1957. Today it consists of over 50 concerts that are performed during a seven week period and feature a vast array of famous soloists and ensembles alike.
In early September the philharmonic reaches Germany for Beethovenfeste Bonn. The tradition of Beethovenfest Bonn stretches back to 1845, when a three-day music festival was held to celebrate the dedication of the Beethoven Monument on the 75th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Both Franz Liszt and Louis Spohr conducted, and international guests in the audiences included King Frederick William IV of Prussia, Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and the composer Hector Berlioz. This year, the IPO presents a program entitled “A Different ‘Ninth,’” instead of the festival’s namesake’s last symphony they will perform Mahler’s romantic Symphony No. 9 in D major.
Following Beethovenfeste, they spend a day in Berlin for Musikfest. This festival marks the beginning of the city’s concert season with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras performing in concert halls throughout Berlin.
In Poland the orchestra participates in Wratislavia Cantans, which takes place in the beautiful ancient churches and castles of the city of Wroclaw. For over 40 years the festival has celebrated vocal and choral music of all kinds and has been a showcase for outstanding performing artists from all over the world. This year, the IPO will have the privilege of being the first orchestra to perform in the city’s new concert hall, the National Music Forum.
The musicians barely rest during these weeks, travelling also to cities in Slovenia, Armenia, and Romania. We look forward to hearing from them during this whirlwind tour and will be sharing photographs and anecdotes along the way!