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Jan Willem de Vriend appointed Artistic Partner

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1765. 250 years later, as part of the orchestra’s anniversary celebrations, Dutch conductor Jan Willem de Vriend led a programme focusing on music by contemporary composers from our orchestra’s early years; Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

The musicians of the orchestra immediately took to his exuberant energy and his vast knowledge of style and techniques in the classical and early romantic repertoire. It soon became clear that de Vriend was revitalizing our orchestra’s core repertoire. In a time when modern symphony orchestras are in danger of “losing” cornerstones of the repertoire to specialized period ensembles performing on original instruments, it is crucial for the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra to hold on to its long traditions. The quote from Gustav Mahler seems fitting: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Together, the Bergen Philharmonic and Jan Willem de Vriend have already performed a string of Mozart and Beethoven symphonies, and not least a hilariously funny production of Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, directed by Eva Buchmann.

A natural next step has been to record together, and de Vriend and the orchestra are currently in the middle of a Mozart project with the Croatian-Austrian pianist Dejan Lazic. Piano concertos and other pieces are presented in concerts in Bergen and recorded for what will become a 3 CDs series for Challenge Records.

In the capacity of Artistic Partner, Jan Willem de Vriend will continue his passionate journey with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in the coming years (seasons 23/24, 24/25 and 25/26), to the great joy of musicians and Bergen audiences alike.

Jan Willem de Vriend is Principal Conductor of the Wiener KammerOrchester, Principal Guest conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor designate of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. He makes regular guest appearances with such ensembles as the Belgian National, Bergen Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, HR-Sinfonieorchester, Melbourne Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Warsaw Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.

De Vriend first established an international reputation as artistic director of the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, which he established in 1982 and led from the violin until 2015. In the field of opera, de Vriend and Combattimento Consort Amsterdam gave performances, of works by Monteverdi, Haydn, Handel, Telemann, and J.S. Bach all in stagings by the director Eva Buchmann. Operas by such composers as Mozart, Verdi and Cherubini featured in his seasons with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, again directed by Eva Buchmann. De Vriend has also conducted opera in Amsterdam (Nederlandse Reisopera), Barcelona, Strasbourg, Luzern, Schwetzingen and Bergen.

In the Netherlands he has presented several television series, and in 2012 he received a prize from the national station NPO Radio 4 for his creative contribution to classical music.

Published on 15 November 2023

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