Wednesday, 31 October 2012

10 Year Jubilee Season Opening a Success

Chief-conductor Simon Murphy (Sydney, 1973) has successfully opened the 10 year jubilee season of The Hague's Baroque Orchestra, The New Dutch Academy (NDA), with the symphonic programme Black Magic on 18 October in The Hague's Philipszaal. Soloists included Chinese-American fortepianist Shuann Chai in Mendelssohn's powerful d minor piano concerto and German soprano Gudrun Sidonie Otto performing music from Reichardt's setting of Macbeth and Rust's Colma's Klage together with arias from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and von Weber's Der Freischütz.

The near to sold out performance was hosted by The Hague's vice mayor Henk Kool and the Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands H.E. Neil Mules, with special guests including leading members of The Hague's diplomatic corps, the vice president of the Netherlands, Mr. Piet Hein Donner and the mayor of Wassenaar and former cultural ambassador of the Netherlands, Mr. Jan Hoekema.

Conductor Murphy described the performance event as “a wonderful and very emotional experience” and “an extremely important milestone for the orchestra, especially in these highly challenging times for the arts in the Netherlands”.

Soprano Gudrun Sidonie Otto  
with conductor Simon Murphy and the NDA Orchestra 
(Photo Fernando van Teijlingen)

Innovative, Distinctive and Dynamic

Since the orchestra's establishment in 2002, Murphy and the NDA have won major industry awards and attracted international media praise, developing a strong international reputation for their dynamic, engaging and cutting-edge performances, delivering fresh perspectives on 18th century music with new soundscapes and new repertoire. “A revelation!”, “breathtaking, compelling, technically brilliant and unusually effervescent!”, “sumptuous, vibrant and energetic”, “liveliness and groove, great dynamic profile and a beautiful use of timbre”, “daring and full of character” are but a few of the international press' enthusiastic reactions.*

Programming, Performance and Presentation

To date, Murphy and the NDA have performed more than 50 unique, hand-crafted concert programmes together in more than 250 concerts throughout the world. Tours have taken the orchestra through Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, Canada and Russia. Highlights have included productions for the Bachfest Leipzig, Händelfestspiele Halle and the UNESCO world heritage site Schloss Brühl.

At home in the Netherlands, Murphy and the orchestra have been regular guests at the country's most prestigious series, halls and festivals, including the ZaterdagMatinee at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Holland Festival of Early Music Utrecht. In its home town of The Hague, the NDA has established new symphonic, Baroque and chamber concert series for the city, as well founding successful education, community art and outreach programmes.

New Perspectives

During the past 10 years, Murphy and the orchestra have shed new light on 18th century music and culture through their projects together, introducing exciting new repertoire and delivering new perspectives on classic repertoire. Murphy and the orchestra have successfully rediscovered and reintroduced the Netherlands' own symphonic heritage, making several first recordings of symphonies by Schmitt “The Dutch Haydn”, Graaf, Stamitz, Schwindl and Zappa on the Dutch label PentaTone Classics. The group's pioneering CD series of early Mannheimer Schule symphonies has received major industry awards including an Edison, and the orchestra's ground-breaking recording of Corelli's Concerti Grossi made at the Holland Festival of Early Music Utrecht was recently voted in the top 5 highlights of the 30 year history of the festival.

The NDA's performances of classic symphonic repertoire, including symphonies of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, have been documented on a series of live CD recordings for Dutch radio. Murphy and the NDA's multidisciplinary productions such as the Fêtes Galantes project and the recent Empress of Pleasure show together with Baroque dancer and choreographer Caroline Copeland have also gained much interest.

New Generation Specialists

With its own distinctive blend of integrity and vibrancy, the NDA represents the new generation of the innovative, Dutch (based) early music tradition made renowned in the 20th century by pioneering figures such as Gustav Leonhardt. Comprised of 40 hand-selected, top international specialist early music performers, the NDA orchestra is an exceptionally international outfit with more than 20 nationalities represented amongst its member musicians who range in age between 25 and 40.

Shuann Chai performing Mendelssohn's d minor Piano Concerto
(Photo Fernando van Teijlingen)

International Cultural Ambassador

In the past 10 years, the NDA has made substantial contributions to the Netherlands' international cultural diplomacy programmes. At the invitation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the city of The Hague, the orchestra has regularly represented the Netherlands at major bilateral occasions, performing hand-crafted programmes profiling Dutch cultural heritage and celebrating international cultural relations. Highlights include performances in Rome (Visit of HM Queen Beatrix to Italy and Dutch EU Presidency), New York (Hudson 400), Vancouver (Cultural Olympiad), Los Angeles (Getty Center) and Sydney (Netherlands Australia 400). Later this year the NDA will visit China for the first time, at the invitation of the Dutch and Chinese governments.

Soprano Gudrun Sidonie Otto
(Photos Fernando van Teijlingen)

Jubilee Season Programme

Following the orchestra's season's opening programme Black Magic  exploring the late 18th/early 19th  century's obsession with the supernatural with music from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Reichardt's Macbeth, Rust's Colma's Klage, Weber's Der Freischütz and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream,  other highlights of the NDA's jubilee season include guest appearances by the winner of the 2011 London Handel Singing Competition Canadian soprano Stefanie True in Mozart Concert Arias and the winner of the 2010 Brugge Competition Hungarian fortepianist Petra Somlai in Mozart's Concerto in C (KV 467) Elvira Madigan. Closing the season is the monumental symphonic programme Ein Heldenleben with music from Romberg's Ulysses, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Rossini's La Cenerentola (Cinderella) together with Beethoven's Symphony no. 3, Eroica.

Next Ten Years

What would conductor Murphy personally like to say, looking back on the challenges and achievements of the past decade and thinking about plans for the next ten years? “I am very proud of the many ground-breaking things we have achieved as an organisation and as an orchestra during the past 10 years, from the research to recordings to performances to productions, especially given the massive financial and political difficulties which the arts continue to face in this country. However, the strain placed on our very compact organisation due to our ongoing commitment to delivering quality under these challenging circumstances has been enormous. And hence the theme of this jubilee programme, Black Magic. I don't quite know how we've managed to do it, but I would like to thank all of those who have made the orchestra's achievements possible during these first 10 years. Their efforts have been truly magical.”

The conductor continued, “on a personal level and as a foreigner in this country, it also meant so much to me to have the support and presence of both the Australian Embassy and the city council of my adopted home city of The Hague at the opening of this jubilee season. I would also like to particularly thank the NDA musicians and the current board members, staff and volunteers of the NDA for their commitment and hard work over the last year and a half which has made this jubilee season possible.” And the future? “First a little break and then on with this very special season.”

More info on Simon Murphy:

More info on The New Dutch Academy: 

* Quotes respectively from Codaex, Concerto, Gramophone, Toccata – Alte Musik Aktuell, Frankfurter Neue Presse and Haagsche Courant. 

China Début

Dutch based Australian conductor Simon Murphy will make his début in China this November. At the invitation of the Chinese and Dutch governments, Murphy will perform in Beijing on November 20 at the official celebration of the anniversary of the 40 year bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China, also conducting orchestras in Hangzhou and Shenzhen during the visit.

Hand-crafted Concert Programmes

Murphy will perform a number of hand-crafted orchestral programmes featuring a selection of Dutch 18th century symphonies, including music which he has recently rediscovered and recorded for Dutch label PentaTone Classics. Completing the concert programmes will be classic repertoire including Beethoven's Symphony no. 2, Gade's concert overture Echoes of Ossian, Rossini's Barber of Seville  overture, and Haydn's cello concerto in C together with the Dutch based American concert cellist Caroline Kang (New York, 1980) as soloist.

Murphy has also been invited to give masterclasses and lectures at the Academy of Performing Arts (Hong Kong) and the Central Conservatory (Beijing) on repertoire, interpretation and historical performance practice.

Murphy (Sydney, 1973) is chief-conductor of The Hague's Baroque orchestra, The New Dutch Academy. The conductor and orchestra are celebrating their 10 year jubilee together this season with the orchestra's festive programming including symphonic, Baroque and chamber concert series as well as its educational, community art and outreach programmes.

During Murphy's tour in China this November, the city of The Hague's Vice-Mayor Henk Kool will host two of the conductor's performances, with the cultural activities aiming to consolidate on established diplomatic and economic relationships between The Hague and several Chinese cities.

International Cultural Ambassador

Conductor Murphy is highly experienced in the area of cultural diplomacy. He has worked regularly for Dutch local and national government on major bilateral celebrations over the past decade. In 2004 he programmed and conducted the music for Her Majesty Queen Beatrix's state visit to Italy during the Netherlands' presidency of the EU with performances of Dutch and Italian Baroque music in Rome broadcast live on Italian radio and TV. In 2006, he programmed the musical celebrations for the 400 year anniversary of relations between Australia and the Netherlands with festival events in both countries. In 2009, he programmed and performed the Dutch contribution to the cultural olympiad in Vancouver, and for the bilateral Dutch / U.S. celebrations of “Hudson 400” he created and performed a special presentation of recently rediscovered 17th and 18th century music from the Netherlands in New York.

Alongside appearances in China, Murphy's other upcoming international conducting highlights include Bach's B Minor Mass with the State Choir of Latvia in Riga in December 2012 and programmes of classical symphonies and Handel's The Water Music with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Australia in May 2013. In the Netherlands, he will conduct the New Dutch Academy's jubilee symphonic programmes Heaven on Earth with Schmitt's Symphonie Pastorale and Spohr's Symphony no. 2, and Ein Heldenleben with Romberg's overture to Ulysses and Beethoven's Symphony no. 3 Eroica in The Hague in February and April 2013.