Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
One of the world’s oldest orchestras, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra dates back to 1765, and will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2015. Edvard Grieg had a close relationship with the orchestra, serving as Artistic Director from1880–82.
Appointed Chief Conductor in 2003, Andrew Litton is the current Music Director, a post he will hold until October 2015. Principal Guest Conductor is, from August 2013, Edward Gardner. Under Litton’s direction the orchestra has raised its international profile considerably through recordings, extensive touring, and international commissions. Edward Gardner takes over as Chief Conductor in October 2015.
The Bergen Philharmonic has in recent seasons played at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, the Wiener Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall, New York and the Philharmonie, Berlin. The orchestra toured Sweden, Austria and Germany in 2011, and in 2012 they appeared at the Rheingau Festival and returned to the Concertgebouw. In February 2013 the orchestra toured the United Kingdom, with concerts in Usher Hall, Edinburgh, The Sage, Gateshead and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.
The orchestra has an active recording schedule for three record companies; BIS, Chandos and Hyperion. Critics worldwide acknowledge its energetic playing style and full-bodied string sound. Recent and ongoing projects include Messiaen’s ‘Turangalîla-Symphonie’, ballets by Stravinsky, Barber’s Cello Concerto and a Prokofiev-cycle for BIS with Andrew Litton. The orchestra’s recording of the complete orchestral music of Grieg remains the reference point in a competitive field.
Currently recording Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets for Chandos with Neeme Järvi, the orchestra has also recorded works by Rimsky Korsakov, four critically acclaimed volumes of works by Johan Halvorsen, a series of the music of Johan Svendsen, and a recording of orchestral realisations by Berio conducted by Edward Gardner.
Enjoying longstanding artistic partnerships with some of the world’s finest musicians, the orchestra has recorded with Leif Ove Andsnes, James Ehnes, Alban Gerhardt, Vadim Gluzman, Stephen Hough, Freddy Kempf, Truls Mørk, Steven Osborne, and Lawrence Power, amongst others.
Music Director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, and Conductor Laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony, recently also became Music Director of the Colorado Symphony. He guest conducts the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of over 120 recordings with awards including America’s Grammy, France’s Diapason d’Or, and many British and other honors.
First appointed Bergen Philharmonic Music Director in 2003, Litton will celebrate the orchestra’s 250th Anniversary in 2015. It is one of the world’s longest established orchestras. In recognition of Litton’s achievements with the Bergen Philharmonic, Norway’s King Harald knighted Litton with the Royal Order of Merit. Under Litton the Bergen Philharmonic has taken numerous tours, including debuts at the London BBC Proms and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, as well as appearances at Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and New York’s Carnegie Hall - the capstone of its first American tour in 40 years. Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic record for the BIS and Hyperion labels, winning extraordinary critical acclaim for their Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev series.
After opening the 2013-14 season in Bergen and Denver, Litton returns to the orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, the English Chamber Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony, and the Bournemouth Symphony. He also leads the Royal Philharmonic on tour to Bucharest. His calendar includes debuts with the Singapore Symphony and the National Taiwan Symphony.
After collaborating in his student days as piano soloist with the legendary Rudolph Nureyev and Natalia Makarova, Litton returns to ballet to conduct the New York City Ballet’s new production of Delibes Coppélia.
Conductor of many of the world’s top opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Australian Opera, Litton participated with the Bergen Philharmonic in founding the Bergen National Opera. Now its Artistic Advisor, Litton has conducted critically acclaimed, sold-out performances of Tosca, Carmen, The Flying Dutchman, and La Bohème. This season he conducts a new production of Fidelio, directed by Oskaras Korsunovas.
An accomplished pianist, Litton often conducts from the keyboard and enjoys performing chamber music with his orchestra colleagues. Litton is recognized as an authority on Gershwin, having extensively performed and recorded as pianist and conductor Gershwin’s works in America, Asia and Europe. He led the Covent Garden premiere of Porgy and Bess and arranged his own concert Suite of that work now performed throughout the world. The University of Michigan has asked Litton to join a distinguished panel of Gershwin experts in developing a Critical Edition of all Gershwin works. Passionate about the music and playing of the late Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, Litton just recorded his first solo piano album, a Tribute to Oscar Peterson, to be released this season.
Litton was Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony from 1988-1994, bringing it on its first American tour and producing 14 recordings, including the Grammy winning Belshazzar’s Feast. Music Director of the Dallas Symphony from 1994-2006, he hired over one third of the players, led the orchestra on three major European tours, appeared four times at Carnegie Hall, created a children’s television series broadcast nationally and in widespread use in school curricula, produced 28 recordings, and helped raise the orchestra’s endowment from $19 million to $100 million. Litton’s Dallas Symphony Rachmaninov Piano Concerto recordings with Stephen Hough, widely hailed as the best since the composer’s own, won the Classical Brits/BBC Critics Award. Litton also received a Grammy nomination for his recording of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with the New York Philharmonic and Patti Lupone.
Andrew Litton, a graduate of the Fieldston School, New York, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Juilliard in piano and conducting. The youngest-ever winner of the BBC International Conductors Competition, he served as Assistant Conductor at Teatro alla Scala and Exxon/Arts Endowment Assistant Conductor for the National Symphony under Rostropovich. His many honors in addition to Norway’s Royal Order of Merit include an honorary Doctorate from the University of Bournemouth, Yale University’s Sanford Medal, and the Elgar Society Medal.