The country code for Austria (AT) is only a letter away from being the symbol for gold: Au. If it had been the symbol, we wouldn’t have been at all surprised: Austria and especially its capital Vienna were simply swimming in the stuff. Vienna, the Habsburg power base, was naturally gilded with the necessary pomp and circumstance. In this cosmopolitan capital of emperors and palaces, this bastion of a conservative ancien regime that ruled large swathes of Europe for centuries, if it glittered, it was more than likely gold.
Such a dominant established order always sparks reaction and so Vienna simultaneously proved itself to be a cradle of artistic innovation. It became home to revolutionary artists and acute thinkers who turned the world on its head. Old versus new, tradition versus innovation: a duality that characterises not only Vienna but also the Concertgebouw, its programme and its home, the city of Bruges.
The Concertgebouw’s 2013-2014 season devotes a lot of attention to Viennese innovation and particularly to that of the Viennese Schools. With its Beethoven Focus, a concert night built around Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, and its Beat Furrer Domain, it features three generations of musical innovators. Wiener Mélange mixes up the three Viennese Schools in a chockablock chamber music weekend. And Vienna’s most important choreographer of the moment Chris Haring is presented in his very own Chris Haring Domain.
Among the other dance offerings we have in store this season are new creations by Concertgebouw partner Rosas and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. This year’s December Dance has Wim Vandekeybus as its rock-‘n-roll curator. Among his many invitees is Jan Fabre, thanks to which our 2013-2014 season neatly brings together three pioneers of the Flemish dance scene. Choreographers such as Israel Galván, Michael Clark and Lemi Ponifasio visit the Concertgebouw for the very first time.
Other prestigious newcomers are the Freiburger Barockorchester, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Capriccio Stravagante and Les Talens Lyriques. Those latter two ensembles join us in commemorating the 250th anniversary of the death of the great French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Our Rameau Focus turns the spotlight on this musician-philosopher. And in his Skip Sempé Domain, American harpsichordist-conductor Sempé recreates the music of Rameau’s funeral. The music of Focus composers Rameau and Beethoven can also be heard during the golden jubilee edition of the MAfestival. This festival has played a vital role in the early music movement and can be justifiably proud of its 50 years of high-quality concerts and prestigious competitions. Along with our house orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge, the MAfestival has been a Concertgebouw partner since the very beginning.
In the spring − alongside new editions of Bach Academy Bruges, with Collegium Vocale Gent, and the MORE MUSIC! festival, in collaboration with Cactus Muziekcentrum − we treat you to a couple of one-off festivals. Noted! explores the importance and the possibilities of music and dance notation. In March, we then turn the spotlights on Cole Porter, the fascinating American composer of jazz standards and glamorous, world-famous musicals.
And last but not least we have a brand-new festival: the Budapest Festival, featuring Iván Fischer’s renowned orchestra of the same name as its prominent guest (hosts). A Hungarian festival with Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák in a central role completes the historic Habsburg alliance of this Austrian season.
The Concertgebouw’s 2013-2014 season is glittering with artistic experiences, but there is also plenty of gold to discover offstage. With a wide range of educational activities, we hope to break down the barriers between our audience and the artists. We invite you to try our (newly revamped) tour, which also comes in a child-friendly version, or to come to one of our stimulating family performances. Teachers: we look forward to welcoming you and your class to a workshop or to an open rehearsal. You can create and manipulate sound in the Sound Factory, you can admire our permanent collection of contemporary art, or you can enjoy an extramural concert by a talented SCOOP ensemble on tour. Moreover, thanks to our Concertgebouw café and packages such as Concertgebouw Servies and Business Seats, you can also experience golden moments before and after the performance.
As you can see, with Vienna as its banner, our new season emphasises innovation and the constant sparks between old and new. What needs no renewing, however, is the everlasting power of emotion, the magic of music and dance that transcends each and every programme. That being said: talk is silver, silence is golden. It’s time to listen and to watch; it’s time for music and dance. Enjoy!
Katrien Van Eeckhoutte, general director
Jeroen Vanacker, artistic director