CD Production Wins OPUS KLASSIK Award

  • After the award ceremony in Berlin (left to right): WKO-Managing Director Madeleine Landlinger, Kathrin Christians and Ruben Gazarian

  • For her first CD with the Württembergisches Kammerorchester (WKO) Heilbronn and its artistic director, Ruben Gazarian, flutist Kathrin Christians has received the OPUS KLASSIK award as Newcomer of the Year. The recording was released by Hänssler CLASSIC in 2017.
  • OPUS KLASSIK is the new award for classical music in Germany, successor to the Echo-Klassik. The first award ceremony took place at the Konzerthaus in Berlin on Sunday, October 14, 2018.
  • In the award-winning recording, the flutist performs concertos by Jindřich Feld und Mieczysław Weinberg and the Adagio by Mikis Theodorakis in an intimate dialog with the Orchestra and its chief conductor. With this recording, the musical partners Christians, Gazarian and WKO Heibronn have brought to life (again) rarely heard items from the flute repertory.
    The accolade aired by the German SWR2 radio channel speaks of “joy of making music, virtuosity, and a delirium of sound,” and pizzicato magazine stresses the flutist’s intensity and the excellence of the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn.

For more information, see (in German only)

A Special Concert Evening at Harmonie Heilbronn at the End of Gazarian’s Tenure

After sixteen seasons as the artistic director and principal conductor of the WKO Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian conducted his last subscription concert in this capacity on June 13, 2018. It was an all-Beethoven program. Besides the Third Piano Concerto with Lilya Zilberstein as the soloist and – as the crowning conclusion of the evening – the Third Symphony, “Eroica,” the Grosse Fuge, arranged for string orchestra, also occupied a special place in the program: “From the outset of our planning for this significant concert, I knew I would want to include a work in any case that was exclusively written for strings – that is, for the regular forces of the chamber orchestra. The work should not only showcase the WKO in the homogenous glory of its string sound but also be understood as a tribute to the chamber orchestra that had been an integral part of my musical life for so many years. For me, it was a heartfelt joy and honor to direct this nuanced powerhouse of an ensemble,” says Ruben Gazarian.

At the end of the musical part of this memorable evening, the orchestra and its conductor were celebrated with extended standing ovations. In the subsequent official part of the evening, Ralf Peter Beitner, president of the WKO board of trustees, looked back in his speech at Ruben Gazarian’s tenure in Heilbronn. He was followed by Konstanze Felber-Faur, chair of the musicians’ council, who in the name of the ensemble directed moving words at Gazarian. Numerous personal encounters between the grateful audience and the leaving artistic director of the WKO in the lobby of the Harmonie concert hall rounded off a long concert evening.

Here are a review (in German) and a photo gallery of the concert

“He touched us, brought us happiness and joy, and comforted us”: High honors for Ruben Gazarian

On June 11, 2018, Ruben Gazarian was awarded the Golden Coin of the city of Heilbronn in a solemn ceremony in the great hall of Heilbronn’s city hall. Lord Mayor Harry Mergel praised the merits the conductor had earned during his sixteen-years’ tenure as artistic director and principal conductor of the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn.

Here is a report from the Heilbronner Stimme daily (in German)

Masterworks for Strings with the GKO: Arensky, Hindemith, Schreker, and Mendelssohn

In early May 2018, the “Ars Produktion” label released one more CD recording of the GKO (Georgian Chamber Orchestra) Ingolstadt with its principal conductor, Ruben Gazarian. The release is based on the GKO subscription concert of September 13, 2017 at the Festsaal of the Ingolstadt theater and includes works by Anton Arensky, Paul Hindemith, Franz Schreker, and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (for more detailed information, click the “Discography” button). Again, this new release is a production that, besides the standard stereo CD, also includes a multi-channel SACD version satisfying the demands of advanced audiophiles.

Here is a review by (in German)

Limited Special Edition: “WKO Live – 15 Jahre Ruben Gazarian” (15 Years with Ruben Gazarian)

On Ruben Gazarian’s fifteenth anniversary as artistic director of the Württembergisches Kammerorchester (WKO) Heilbronn, a box of five CDs under the title “WKO LIVE – 15 Jahre Ruben Gazarian” (WKO Live – 15 Years with Ruben Gazarian” has been released as a limited edition. It includes a selection of live recordings from concerts at Harmonie Heilbronn, the hall that the WKO calls its home. Each CD has its own dramaturgy, and in over six hours of music, there is a wide variety of facets of the WKO’s sound to be heard. The unedited recordings offer a selection from the entire range of the WKO’s repertory: monumental pillars of music history for string orchestra, excerpts from symphonic works with the enlarged chamber orchestra, and selections from the New Year’s Day concert programs.

The CD is exclusively available from the Webshop of the WKO.

The 2018 Season of the Georgisches Kammerorchester (Georgian Chamber Orchestra) has been announced in Ingolstadt

The concerts of the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt have become an integral segment of the regular cultural offerings of the city. The 2018 season is themed “Klangwelten”—“sound worlds.” It takes the audience to the most varied listening experiences and geographical regions, such as Argentina, Austria, the Balkans, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Georgia (the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus), Italy and Russia.

The orchestra’s “Artist in Residence“ in 2018, chronologically the fourth, is the pianist Sebastian Knauer. He looks back to an international carrier of twenty-five years as a performer with distinguished partners and at notable venues. Serious “understatement” combined with musical excellence mark his playing and his style, have brought him numerous successes and have established his name on the international musical scene. In addition, Sebastian Knauer is known for his resourcefulness in programming, and he is the founder and director of the mozart@augsburg festival. With the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt, he opens the series of subscription concerts likewise with Mozart, on January 18. He will also be seen and heard in the all-Shostakovich concert (November 7, subscription concert no. 9).

In 2018, the subscription concerts again lure renowned classical musicians to Ingolstadt. Among these are Benedikt Klöckner, one of the most exciting cellists of his generation (March 1); Isabelle van Keulen, a grande dame of the violin and the viola who has set new standards in her recordings many times (May 8, live broadcast on the German Deutschlandradio channel); or the sisters Khatia and Gvantsa Buniatishvili at the piano in a grand homage to Mozart (June 6). Two specially themed nights take us first to France (September 20), when Ruben Gazarian will demonstrate his knack for French colors, and then to Russia (November 7): in this concert, entirely dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich, our “Artist in Residence”, Sebastian Knauer, will again participate. Further soloists of the 2018 subscription concerts are violinist Hugo Ticciati, whom critics have already been ranking among the “truly great musicians of tomorrow” (February 6), contrabass player Petru Iuga (April 12), flutist Massimo Mercelli (October 18) and the well-known trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich (November 29).

Through its guest concerts, the ensemble also has a pioneering function with an outreach far beyond its home region. In 2018, this entails sort of a sensation: As one of the first chamber orchestras ever, the Georgisches Kammerorchester Ingolstadt will perform at the newly opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg. The concert with the piano duet Khatia und Gvantsa Buniatishvili, conducted by Ruben Gazarian on March 31, 2018, is part of a festival exhibiting the Caucasus.

The “Artist in Residence” of the previous season, the cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, will be back with the orchestra for three guest concerts.

A series of non-subscription concerts make up further highlights of the season. The New Year’s Day Concert (January 1), is a musical trip half around the world—to Latin America. Pieces by the king of Tango, Astor Piazzolla, are in focus. The star bandoneon player Daniel Binelli and pianist Polly Ferman are excellent specialists for this repertory. For the Open Air Turm Baur on July 27, the celebrated David Orlowsky Trio will join us. They come to Ingolstadt with their own compositions in the spirit of world music, which also bear the scent of Istanbul or the Balkans. The chamber orchestra also appears again at the AUDI summer concerts and will play the traditional AUDI Christmas concert.

The WKO Looking Back at a Successful Chinese Tour (September 2017)

   Before the concert in Wuxi, Poly Grand Theatre

After fifteen days, eleven concerts, and more than 21,000 kilometers traveled, the Württembergisches Kammerorchester (WKO) Heilbronn and its artistic director Ruben Gazarian have returned to Heilbronn.

Playing works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky, the WKO was a guest in eleven cultural centers such as Shanghai, Wuxi or Nanjing in the east of China, functioning as an ambassador of the city of Heilbronn, Germany, and Europe. In the course of its tour, the orchestra with its concertmaster Zohar Lerner as a soloist appeared in some of the most impressive newly built concert halls in China, such as the Nanjing Poly Grand Theatre, one of the last building projects of the recently deceased architect Zaha Hadid.

“Such an extended tour through China is something extraordinary. I am truly happy for the fact that the WKO’s general manager, Madeleine Landlinger, successfully sealed the deal for this large foreign tour. It is wonderful to see how enthusiastic the mostly young Chinese audiences are about “European” music. And if one has the privilege of performing Mozart’s “Kleine Nachtmusik,” Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in D minor, or Tchaikovsky’s Serenade under such circumstances, then real moments of bliss will occur – both to the audience and to us musicians“, concludes Ruben Gazarian.

The 2017–18 Season of the WKO Heilbronn Has Been Announced

WKO photo.

The 2017–18 season of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn is under the slogan “Discoveries.” The guiding idea is, “Discovery is only possible if one remains always curious.” The musical universe offers unlimited wealth, which to discover is the mission of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra and its audience in the uniqueness of each moment of a concert.

In the 2017–18 season, the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra (WKO) again offers its subscription series in Heilbronn and Ulm—with ten concerts in Heilbronn and five in Ulm. Ruben Gazarian will take the rostrum in five concerts in Heilbronn and four concerts in Ulm in his sixteenth and final season as principal conductor and artistic director of the WKO.

The WKO Heilbronn dives into the symphonic cornucopia of Joseph Haydn and performs four symphonies that the orchestra has never played before. Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto is likewise a new item in the WKO’s repertory. But even less well-known composers like classicist Joseph Martin Kraus, French violoncellist and composer Jean-Baptiste Janson, Czech Vilém Tauský or Danish national hero Carl Nielsen appear in the season’s program. The Viola Concerto by Pēteris Vasks, played by Maxim Rysanov, one of the world’s leading violists, will see its German première with the WKO and its principal conductor Ruben Gazarian in Heilbronn. The orchestra rediscovers the great symphonist Gustav Mahler and his Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) in terms of chamber music and pays homage to French impressionist Claude Debussy on the occasion of the centennial of his death.

In September 2017, the WKO sets out again (after 2013) for an extended tour of the cultural centers of eastern China as a musical ambassador of Heilbronn. The orchestra will appear in eleven cities in the guise of an all-strings ensemble with its concertmaster Zohar Lerner as soloist and its principal conductor Ruben Gazarian at the helm. The program features works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky.

New Year’s Day Concert of 2018, the last under Ruben Gazarian as principal conductor and artistic director, focuses on Russian composer Peter I. Tchaikovsky and his musical settings of three love stories. Excerpts from the opera Eugene Onegin with Armenian soprano Karine Babajanyan, the Fantaisie-overture Romeo and Juliet, and a selection from the ballet score for The Sleeping Beauty make up the substance of the year’s opening concert, which traditionally cultivates a grand symphonic sound.

In September 2017, Ruben Gazarian celebrates his fifteenth anniversary as principal conductor and artistic director of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn. On this occasion, a five-volume CD box with live recordings of orchestral works culled from the Heilbronn concert programs of the last fifteen years is released in a limited edition. The CD box is available at the Heilbronn concerts, at selected advance ticket outlets and from the web shop on the website of the WKO at a price of €39.

Precious Rarities for Flute: New Release with Kathrin Christians

On the CD with flutist Kathrin Christians and the WKO Heilbronn conducted by Ruben Gazarian, released by Hänssler Classic in May 2017, concertos by Jindřich Feld and Mieczysław Weinberg are heard as well as the Adagio by Mikis Theodorakis—all seldom performed works for flute and orchestra.

The German radio program SWR2 Treffpunkt Klassik comments on June 20, 2017: “The joy of making music, virtuosity, a delirium of sound and finally, an apocalyptic explosion with a hellish scenario all rolled in one… At this time, the recording with Kathrin Christians and the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra under Ruben Gazarian should be the best choice for a new discovery of this literally staggering piece (by Jindřich Feld). A chamber orchestra bursts at its seams, what a wonderful horror… Here the piece literally blows up in your ears in a way that is sheer fun.”

 “A courageous program, thanks to the passion and curiosity of Kathrin Christians. The raison d’être of her first CD was the Flute Concerto by Jindřich Feld, a Czech composer practically forgotten. Especially here, the flutist demonstrates what a boundless range of timbres can be conjured up from her instrument—from a warm, soft sound that rises straight to utmost intimacy to a vigorous, energetic rebellion that makes the listener shiver… The Württemberg Chamber Orchestra under Ruben Gazarian is a reliable partner also here…” Concerti, May 26, 2017.

Gazarian Renews His Contract in Ingolstadt through 2020

On May 5, 2017, the contract between the Georgian Chamber Orchestra (GKO) Ingolstadt and Ruben Gazarian was extended by another three years. In advance, both the orchestra and the advisory board of the IN Veranstaltungs gGmbH expressed their unanimous support for the renewal of the contract. The Armenian-born conductor has been at the helm of the orchestra as its artistic director since 2015 and has made a vital contribution to the GKO’s emergence as an integral part of the cultural life of Ingolstadt and its surroundings.

Managing director Tobias Klein comments on the renewal of the contract: “Ruben Gazarian is an excellent conductor who has significantly enhanced the Georgian Chamber Orchestra Ingolstadt in its identity and regional importance.“ Gazarian is likewise happy about the decision: “I am looking forward to the continuation of my collaboration with the GKO because I feel deeply attached to the orchestra. For me, the orchestra’s unanimous vote for the renewal of my contract is a very pleasant confirmation of the course we have taken. Many new, exciting projects are awaiting us.” In the past years, the conductor has already implemented some innovations. He has defined topical focus areas for his concerts and, as a consequence, the Ingolstadt audience has heard new, exciting works. Thanks to his international contacts, he has also been able to recruit famous soloists for the GKO and to establish an annual “artist-in-residence.” This year, it is cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, who will come to Ingolstadt for several concerts.

Since the beginning of its collaboration with Ruben Gazarian, the GKO has been back on the market of recordings and has released three CDs documenting its widely varied artistic range. In addition, the orchestra does not only perform in Ingolstadt, but it also regularly appears at festivals such as the Internationales Musikfest Kreuth and the Oettinger Residenzkonzerte (both in Bavaria). Foreign tours have taken the orchestra to Spain, France, Georgia, Austria, Switzerland and, most recently, Israel. Besides his artistic directorship with the GKO, Ruben Gazarian is also the principal conductor of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn. He has been holding that position since 2002 and will hand it over to a successor after sixteen years in summer 2018.