November 22, 2016

Five Things You Should Know About The World’s Number 1 Orchestra


The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra makes its Singapore debut next year with an exciting programme of Debussy and Bruckner under the baton of Daniele Gatti. Want to know more about them? Read on to find out!rco

1. In 129 years of orchestra history, the RCO has had only 7 chief conductors.

These conductors were Willem Kes (chief conductor from 1888 to 1895), Willem Mengelberg (1895–1945), Eduard van Beinum (1945–1959), Bernard Haitink (1963–1988), Riccardo Chailly (1988–2004) and Mariss Jansons (2004-2015), and Daniele Gatti (2016-present).

2. Their longest-serving chief conductor was Wilhelm Mengelberg, a Dutchman who attracted many leading composers such as Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Claude Debussy (whose music will be played at the concert in Jan), and Igor Stravinsky to conducted the orchestra on more than one occasion.

Mahler worked so well with them that he went back as guest conductor for 10 occasions!

3. Imagine an orchestra called the Concert Hall Symphony Orchestra. Essentially, that’s what the word ‘Concertgebouw’ means. The Concertgebouw (concert hall) opened its doors on 11 April 1888, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra was established a few months later. This is also the same case with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, named after the concert hall, or Gewandhaus.

The RCO only came to be known as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra a hundred years later in 1988, when Queen Beatrix conferred the ‘Royal’ title upon the orchestra.

4. Having worked with so many composer-conductors in their history, they boast an individual and unique sound because…

“They have an understanding of each composer like an actor understands his roles – they interpret, and shift into the appropriate character. It comes from a hunger to comprehend what is behind the notes. Notes are after all only signs, and if you only follow the signs they won’t get you there. Yet very few orchestras in the world have that quality of knowing the depth and the character of the music. We have many technically good orchestras these days. But this musicial intelligence, allied to the orchestra’s very personal sound, makes the Concertgebouw stand out.” – Mariss Jansons, 6th chief conductor of the RCO (from 2004-2015)

5. In the same survey by Gramophone that ranked the RCO as the world’s best orchestra, close contenders for the title were the Berlin Philharmonic (ranked 2nd) and the Vienna Philharmonic (ranked 3rd). Both Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras have performed at Esplanade before.

Don’t miss your chance to catch the world’s number 1 orchestra for the first time here in Singapore, and see what makes them the very best! Happening at Esplanade Concert Hall on 23rd Jan, 2017! More information available here.

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