The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra performed at the inauguration of the Elbphilharmonie on 11 January with a diverse programme by composers ranging from Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) and Wolfgang Rihm (*1952). From now on, the resident orchestra plays a major role in development of the concert hall’s musical profile.
Alan Gilbert as New Principal Conductor
From 2011 to 2018, principal conductor Thomas Hengelbrock brought new impulses to the history of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra with unconventional programming and an eagerness to experiment in his interpretations.
At the beginning of the 2019/20 season the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra welcomes Alan Gilbert as new principal conductor. »We have a long history, but now the icon of the new hall is a symbol of a new chapter for the orchestra and for me. This is the greatest place to be a chief conductor imaginable,« said the American of Japanese descent. »Music is life. Music is the international language: we need to find ways for human beings to communicate – and music as a diplomatic tool is more important than ever.«
Gilbert was already closely linked to the orchestra in the years 2004-2015 as its first guest conductor – a function now held by the young Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbański.
Journey to the Elbphilharmonie
The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra was founded in 1945 and played an important part in the spiritual and cultural reconstruction of northern Germany following the Second World War. From 1956 to 2016 the orchestra gave concerts under the name NDR Sinfonieorchester. For more than a quarter of a century, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt shaped the artistic profile of the orchestra as its first principal conductor.
He was succeeded by Günter Wand, who forged a strong and highly successful relationship with the orchestra over the next two decades. Appointed to the position of principal conductor in 1982 and honorary conductor for life in 1987, Wand cemented the international reputation of the orchestra. In 1998, Christoph Eschenbach was designated principal conductor, followed by Christoph von Dohnányi in 2004 and Thomas Hengelbrock in 2011.
Artistic Calling Card
In addition to its different concert formats in Hamburg, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra now also has its own concert series in Lübeck and Kiel, and plays a major role at the big music festivals in northern Germany.
The orchestra underscores its international status on tours of Europe, North and South America, and on regular trips to Asia. It also supports emerging talent, and here, too, its activities go well beyond the German borders. In 2015, for example, the orchestra entered into a cooperation with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra that will run for several years, focusing on a large-scale music education project in China.