The history of the Lower Saxony State Orchestra extends back into the year 1636: In the midst of the Thirty Years’ War, Duke Georg von Calenberg founded an orchestra that was to play concerts at court. The ensemble’s first kapellmeisters included Heinrich Schütz, Agostino Steffani, and George Frederick Handel; Jean Baptiste Farinelli was one of the concertmasters of this early phase. It was not until the 19th century that the court orchestra became an opera orchestra. Heinrich Marschner and Hans von Bülow were among the most prominent kapellmeisters and Joseph Joachim was the most famous concertmaster of this time.
Some of the orchestra’s most distinctive general music directors during first half of the 20th century include Rudolf Krasselt and Franz Konwitschny. Among its guest conductors were Wilhelm Furt-wängler, Otto Klemperer, Hans Knappertsbusch, and Ferenc Fricsay, and composers such as Franz Schreker, Igor Stravinsky, Hans Pfitzner, and Paul Hindemith conducted performances of their own works.
Since January 1, 1970, the orchestra belongs to the ›Niedersächsische Staatstheater Hannover GmbH‹ (Lower Saxony State Theater Company Hannover) and, as the largest musical ensemble of the state, is funded by Lower Saxony. To date, the orchestra consists of 112 players. Since 2011, Music Director Karen Kamensek has been the orchestra’s chief conductor. In addition to daily changing opera productions, the Lower Saxony State Orchestra performs eight symphony concerts and a number of special concerts, as well as several concerts for children and young adults each season. The ensemble’s chamber music series consists of eight matinees per season. In cooperation with the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media and ›Musik 21 Niedersachsen‹, the orchestra has been hosting the festival ›Klangbrücken‹ (bridges of sound) since 2014. Guest performances at festivals such as the Vienna Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival and at the ›Brucknerhaus Linz‹, as well as regular radio live broadcasts of opera premieres enhance the Lower Saxony State Orchestra Hannover’s daily agenda. (Status 2015, Source: Nds. Staatsorchester)
Variety, quality, and tradition – these are the trademarks of Hannover’s NDR Radiophilharmonie. With 86 highly qualified musicians, the radio symphony orchestra of Lower Saxony has accom-plished outstanding variety in programming. In addition to the classical and romantic repertory, the ensemble’s performances also include Early Music, crossover projects, film music, and a number of programs for children and young adults.
This corresponds with an equally broad spectrum of renowned international artists who have chosen to collaborate with the orchestra. Among them are leading classical musicians such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Hilary Hahn, Rudolf Buchbinder, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, Kristjan Järvi, and Cornelius Meister, as well as artists devoted to Early Music, such as Reinhard Goebel, Giuliano Carmignola, and Philippe Jaroussky. Frequent guests also include international pop, rock, and jazz musicians, such as Al Jarreau, Chet Baker, Dominique Horwitz, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Ute Lemper.
Variety is the NDR Radiophilharmonie’s great tradition. The ensemble was founded in 1950 as the orchestra of the Hannover radio station, which was part of the former NWDR. However, its roots extend all the way back into the 1920ies, when Hannover’s first radio station began to broadcast. Due to the special demands of radio broadcasting, artistic excellence in a variety of musical genres has been an essential part of the orchestra’s identity from the very beginning.
As a musical ambassador of Hannover and Lower Saxony, the NDR Radiophilharmonie is inter-nationally renowned. Recently, the orchestra has toured, among other places, Japan and South America; over New Year’s 2013/2014, the ensemble was on tour in China. Additional guest per¬for-mances include those at the Pisa Festival, the ›Clubhaus‹-Concerts in Switzerland, and the Bergen International Festival in Norway. In October 2011, the orchestra gave its hugely successful debut at London’s sold-out Royal Albert Hall; in March, the ensemble performed for the first time at the Abu Dhabi Festival. Since the 2014/2015 season, Andrew Manze has been Chief Conductor of the NDR Radiophilharmonie. (Status 2015, Source: NDR)
Exceptionally creative program selections meet a truly homogenous sound grown out of continuous work: Today, over 60 years after being founded in post-war Germany, the ›Münchener Kammer-orchester‹ (Munich Chamber Orchestra) presents itself as one of the finest ensembles in Germany’s orchestral landscape. With distinctive themes for each season – among them ›Politics‹, ›The Alps‹, ›Afterlife‹, ›Architecture‹, ›Eastward‹, ›Drama‹, and ›Childhood‹ – the programs of the ensemble juxtapose works from previous centuries with contemporary music. The emerging combinations are bold, inspired, and often surprising.
Christoph Poppen, who shaped the ensemble’s uniquely dynamic profile, was appointed Artistic Director of the chamber orchestra in 1995. Since then, over 70 works were premiered by the MKO. Composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Wolfgang Rihm, Tan Dun, Chaya Czernowin, and Jörg Wid-mann have written works for the ensemble; since 2006, the MKO has commissioned works from Erkki-Sven Tüür, Thomas Larcher, Bernhard Lang, Nikolaus Brass, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Klaus Lang, Mark Andre, Peter Ruzicka, Márton Illés, Miroslav Srnka, and Tigran Mansurian.
Alexander Liebreich, who became Poppen’s successor in the 2006/07 season, strongly believes in the listening experience and communicative intensity offered by contemporary music. In addition to the Thursday evening performances at the ›Prinzregententheater‹, the orchestra’s main venue, the MKO has established a number of unusual concert formats in the past few years. The night concerts ›Nachtmusiken‹, which are enjoyed by a large and educated audience at Munich’s ›Pinakothek der Moderne‹, have been going on for 12 seasons already. These concerts feature entire programs dedicated to a single 20th or 21st-century composer. An additional sixty concerts per annum take the orchestra to the best-known concert stages all over the world. Previous seasons have included tours to Asia, Spain, Scandinavia, and South America.
The MKO’s recordings with ECM Records include works by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Sofia Gubaidulina, Tigran Mansurian, Giacinto Scelsi, Thomas Larcher, Isang Yun and Joseph Haydn, as well as Toshio Hosokawa. The ensemble has also recorded with Sony Classical. (Status 2015, Source: Münchener Kammerorchester)