Press overview

The Concertgebouworkest presents a richly varied 2020–21 season

25 February 2020

The Concertgebouworkest is giving every opportunity to connoisseurs and new audience members alike to get acquainted with the many facets of symphonic music in its 2020–21 season.

With special projects focusing on Beethoven, Stravinsky and Dutch composers, as well as a large number of premieres and commissioned works, it promises to be a richly varied season, one which will also be underpinning the orchestra’s new media campaign ‘What are you listening to?’ With this campaign, the orchestra aims to give a flying start to all the many people out there who are interested in classical music.

Versatile hallmark

This season’s programming bears for the last time the versatile hallmark of the orchestra’s artistic director Joel Ethan Fried, who will be retiring in August. ‘For over twenty years, I have had the pleasure and the honour of putting together programmes with my colleagues for you,’ Fried writes in the introduction to the new brochure. ‘The coming season will be the last one I oversee in its entirety. But we have mapped out our artistic profile for the coming years, and the orchestra is on a clear path. I am also confident that we will be in a position in the not too distant future to announce our eighth chief conductor.’

Beethoven and Stravinsky

The Concertgebouworkest’s new season features three symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born 250 years ago – the Third, Fifth and Sixth conducted by François-Xavier Roth, Jaap van Zweden and Daniel Harding respectively. The orchestra will also be teaming up with Krystian Zimerman to perform all the Beethoven piano concertos. In various subscription series, the concertos will be programmed alongside newly commissioned works; in addition, all five concertos will be performed back-to-back on a marathon concert given on a single Sunday afternoon. At the helm is conductor Gustavo Gimeno, who is also leading another special project which will see him conduct the Concertgebouworkest with the Dutch National Ballet in Stravinsky’s three best-known ballets on a single evening.

Janine Jansen is artist in residence

Janine Jansen is serving as the Concertgebouworkest’s artist in residence in the 2020–21 season. The Dutch star violinist will be making solo appearances in the Brahms Violin Concerto, Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto, Stravinsky’s Histoire du soldat and, together with clarinettist Martin Fröst, a new double concerto by Sally Beamish. Jansen will also be collaborating with members of the orchestra on two chamber music concerts, including one of two Club Nights.

Other soloists

Among the other guest soloists to feature in the coming season are baritone Matthias Goerne, mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg, violinists Leonidas Kavakos and Pekka Kuusisto, and pianists Stefano Bollani, Yefim Bronfman and Yuja Wang. Three soloists from the orchestra’s own ranks will also be taking centre stage: principal trumpet player Miroslav Petkov and concertmaster Liviu Prunaru, as well as Sylvia Huang, the young violinist who won the Audience Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in May 2019.

Dutch music

Next season, the Concertgebouworkest will be placing a strong emphasis on home-grown music. It will be performing three works by the Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock, who died in 1921. The orchestra will also be paying tribute to Theo Verbey, who recently passed away. Finally, Christiaan Richter has written his second composition to be commissioned by the orchestra. As part of the Horizon theme Play Dutch with me, presented in collaboration with the conservatories of Amsterdam and The Hague, the orchestra is devoting a whole week exclusively to Dutch music. In addition to a number of chamber music concerts, the Concertgebouworkest – under the baton of Antony Hermus – will be performing new orchestral works by Celia Swart and Bram Kortekaas alongside compositions by Theo Loevendie, Louis Andriessen and Tristan Keuris. Harpist Remy van Kesteren, soprano Katrien Baerts and percussionist Dominique Vleeshouwers – who won the Nederlandse Muziekprijs (Dutch Music Prize) in January – are making their Concertgebouworkest debut as guest soloists.


Regular guest conductors whom the orchestra looks forward to working with again include Myung-whun Chung, Iván Fischer, Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, Fabio Luisi, Sir Antonio Pappano and Jaap van Zweden. The same goes for those conductors having made a name for themselves specialising in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music: Philippe Herreweghe, Thomas Hengelbrock, Andrew Manze, Riccardo Minasi, Trevor Pinnock and François-Xavier Roth. Conductors making their first appearance with the orchestra are Han-Na Chang, Nuno Coelho, Philippe Jordan, Klaus Mäkelä, Riccardo Minasi and Kristiina Poska.

Broad repertoire

Alan Gilbert opens the season with a festively swinging American programme featuring music by Higdon, Gershwin and Bernstein. Dvořák’s Seventh and Eighth symphonies will be conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and Semyon Bychkov respectively. Trevor Pinnock is juxtaposing Gabrieli with Mozart and Dvořák. Valery Gergiev will be leading the orchestra in Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. Fabio Luisi will be conducting works including Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Fifth Symphony. Daniel Harding, for his part, is leading the orchestra in Schubert’s Third and Mahler’s First Symphony, among other works. Harding will also be conducting the second annual Concertgebouworkest Young, the international youth orchestra which got off to such a successful start in August 2019.

Contemporary music and Horizon

The orchestra has also ensured there is plenty of scope for contemporary music in the new season. In addition to the Dutch composers mentioned above – Kortekaas, Richter and Swart – world premieres of works by Sally Beamish, Bernd Richard Deutsch, Annelies Van Parys and Wolfgang Rihm have been programmed. The orchestra will also be performing Dutch premieres of compositions by Unsuk Chin, Jennifer Higdon, Jimmy López, Matthias Pintscher and Rebecca Saunders. The innovative Horizon Series is presenting three new programmes devoted to themes of current relevance. Besides Play Dutch with me – a programme with text projection – these are Miraculous love featuring a mime and puppet production by Duda Paiva and Klimt’s kiss with images by Bas van Beek.

Young and diverse

The Concertgebouworkest’s audience has become considerably younger and more diverse in recent years, thanks in part to new concert formats like Club Night, Horizon and Essentials. That last series has been expanded from three to four concerts in 2020–21. Through the Family Series, the two Children’s Concerts and the educational apps and coinciding school projects, the members of the orchestra enjoy sharing the art of listening with youngsters, thereby introducing even more new audience members to symphonic music.