Starting in August 2016, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will visit all the 28 member states of the European Union in the course of two and a half seasons as part of the RCO meets Europe concert tour. In repertoire, in spirit and in practice this tour will serve to highlight the fundamental ideas and ideals that can hold Europe together. Patron of RCO meets Europe is Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
Europe is a unique mosaic of cultures, both ancient and modern. It is where, in the course of 1200 years, polyphony was developed: the interplay of several different voices, cornerstone of a multitude of music styles. The symphony orchestra and the masterpieces written for it are among its greatest cultural achievements.
General manager Jan Raes: "If history and crises have sometimes fractured Europe's self-image, our common culture and heritage can provide a counterweight where necessary. Music can help people to share thoughts, ideas and feelings; the concert as an experience brings and binds people together. Orchestral music in particular symbolises the idea of 'equality through diversity' – the true sense of polyphony. In the face of political and economic challenges, now more than ever, we need to celebrate this uniquely European invention, which allows us to express a single idea through many voices so that we can discover the endless possibilities open to us to continue our journey into the future."
This European idea should also be transferred to younger generations. It is their heritage, too. During the RCO meets Europe tour, in each country the orchestra will perform one opening work side by side with local youth orchestra. In addition, members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will give masterclasses and lessons. This enables the orchestra to share its knowledge and experience with younger musicians, and to engage in lasting collaborations with youth orchestras across Europe.
Bringing together 120 musicians from over 25 different countries, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – under patronage of Her Majesty, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands – is a vibrant reflection of cultural diversity and a product of Europe's borderless networks. It has maintained a continuously high level of musical proficiency since its formation in 1888, owing in part to the fact that it has had only six chief-conductors in 127 years.
Europe is entering yet another crucial phase in its history. As the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra itself begins a new chapter in its history with the arrival of Daniele Gatti as its seventh chief-conductor, RCO meets Europe is a particularly suitable way to bring Europeans together around an idea of what Europe is, what it could be, and how it sounds with its ever burgeoning variety and richness.
Daniele Gatti will conduct the first concerts of the RCO meets Europe tour programme. After the concerts in Ireland, Austria and Slovenia, on 9 September Maestro Gatti's inauguration as the RCO's seventh chief conductor will take place during RCO Opening Night at The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where the RCO will perform Beethoven's 'Egmont' Overture side by side with the JeugdOrkest Nederland (Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands).
During the rest of the 2016/2017 season, the RCO meets Europe concerts are scheduled in France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. The remaining sixteen countries will be visited during the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons.