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Lower Austrian Tonkunstler Orchestra

Lower Austrian Tonkunstler Orchestra

The Tonkunstler Orchestra of Lower Austria is among the most important institutions on the Austrian music scene. The main focus of the orchestra's artistic work is traditional repertoire ranging from the classical to the Romantic period through to the 20th century

Andrés Orozco-Estrada, who was born in Colombia and has been active on the Viennese music scene since 1997, took on the post as Music Director from the start of the 09-10 season. Under his direction, the Tonkunstler has presented concert programmes that have been particularly well received by both the audience and the press. Music Directors preceding Andrés Orozco-Estrada included Walter Weller, Heinz Wallberg, Miltiades Caridis, Fabio Luisi and Kristjan Järvi. Furthermore, the Tonkunstler has collaborated with famous guest conductors such as Jeffrey Tate, Jun Märkl, Hugh Wolff, Andrew Litton, Giovanni Antonini, Christopher Hogwood, Christian Zacharias, Heinz Holliger as well as Guest Music Director Michail Jurowski.  

The Tonkunstler's initiatives and its approach of treading alternative paths with regard to its programmes are particularly innovative. The inclusion of genres such as jazz and world music within the scope of the ‘Plugged-In' series ensures that the orchestra remains up-to-date at all times. By incorporating contemporary works into its programmes, the Tonkunstler establishes ties to current developments on the music scene: each subscription season is opened with the first performance of a commissioned work under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Each season, the programmatic focus Points in Time (in collaboration with Wien Modern for the first time in 2011) examines a special subject area. A composer in residence works closely together with the Tonkunstler in the scope of the Grafenegg Music Festival each year. So far, composers of the likes of Krzysztof Penderecki, Arvo Pärt, James MacMillan, HK Gruber, Gerald Resch and Tan Dun have written commissioned works for the Tonkunstler Orchestra.

The Tonkunstler was the first Austrian orchestra to establish a department for music didactics in 2003: the Tonspiele has since generated enthusiasm for music among over 50,000 children and youths. Besides individually arranged concerts for people of all age groups, the offer also comprises workshops in which members of the orchestra provide the audience with concert introductions. The Tonspiele has thus become Austria's largest music education programme.

The orchestra's residences are the Musikverein in Vienna as well as the St Pölten Festival Hall and Grafenegg in Lower Austria. The latter boasts two acoustically outstanding venues: the Wolkenturm and the Auditorium. Subscription concerts are available for all three locations. There is an additional special series of concerts in St Pölten, organised in cooperation with the Festival Hall. The Tonkunstler performs concerts in its capacity as orchestra in residence at the Music Summer and the Music Festival in Grafenegg. Besides select programmes, the artistic work of the orchestra comprises the opening of the Music Festival on a regular basis as well as close cooperation with the composer in residence. Each year, the Midsummer Night's Gala opens the summer season in Grafenegg. The concert is broadcast on the radio in Austria as well as in other European countries.

Tours are an important pillar of the Tonkunstler's orchestral work and have taken the orchestra to Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, the Baltic States and Japan in past seasons. In autumn 2011, the Tonkunstler Orchestra guest-performed at the International George Enescu Festival and opened the Moravian Autumn in Brno under the direction of Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Prominent soloists who have performed concerts together with the orchestra include Renée Fleming, Angelika Kirchschlager, Anne Sofie von Otter, Ian Bostridge and Bryn Terfel as well as Janine Jansen, Lisa Batiashvili, Sol Gabetta, Alfred Brendel, Daniel Hope, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Fazil Say and Lang Lang.

Further to its high profile as a touring orchestra, the Tonkunstler has also recorded extensively. Its recordings include the Symphony No 2 ‘Lobgesang' by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 1, both under the direction of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Further releases include Leonard Bernstein's ‘Mass', Joseph Haydn's Paris Symphonies and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No 9 in Gustav Mahler's version, all under the direction of Kristjan Järvi.

Also available are Mendelssohn Bartholdy's ‘Sommernachtstraum', Schumann's ‘Manfred', Franz Schmidt's ‘Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln' as well as Steve Reich's ‘Desert Music' and ‘Zeitstimmung'/‘Rough Music' by HK Gruber.