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François-Xavier Roth (born Paris, 1971) is one of today’s most charismatic and enterprising conductors. He has been General Music Director of the City of Cologne since 2015, leading both the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the first-ever Associate Artist of the Philharmonie de Paris.
With a reputation for inventive programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world. He is working with leading orchestras including the Staatskapelle Berlin, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony, Munich Philharmonic and Zurich Tonhalle. In 2018-19, he makes a return to the Berlin Philharmonic and appears with the San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland, Montreal Symphony and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestras.
In 2003, he founded Les Siècles, an innovative orchestra performing contrasting and colourful programmes on modern and period instruments, often within the same concert. With Les Siècles, he has given concerts throughout Europe and toured to China and Japan. They recreated the original sound of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in its centenary year and, subsequently, with the Pina Bausch and Dominique Brun dance companies in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Tokyo. Les Siècles was nominated for Gramophone Magazine’s first Orchestra of the Year Award.
After the success of their explorations of Post-Romanticism and Debussy in his centenary year, concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra in November and March feature a typically wide-range of works, from Haydn through Strauss, Bartók and Scriabin and, in the latest of his LSO Futures series, to the current sound world of Philippe Manoury, with the UK premiere of Ring.
In his fourth Cologne opera season, he leads new productions of Strauss’ Salome and Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, which marks the bicentenary of the composer’s birth in Cologne. With the Gürzenich Orchestra, he will feature Rhenish composer, Schumann, and explore works which disrupt traditional orchestral forms and think them anew. He continues a focus on the composer Philippe Manoury, with the premiere of Lab.Oratorium, the third of the trilogy of works commissioned by the orchestra, which will also be played in Hamburg and Paris. He will take the orchestra on tour to Turin, Zürich and Vienna, performing Mahler’s fifth symphony.
He recorded the complete tone poems of Richard Strauss while Principal Conductor of the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden & Freiburg (2011-2016). His recordings of the Stravinsky ballets, The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring with Les Siècles have also been widely acclaimed; the latter being awarded a German Record Critics’ Prize. They are currently recording a complete Ravel cycle for Harmonia Mundi. The first release, Daphnis and Chloé, won the Gramophone Awards Orchestral Album of the Year and was a Gramophone magazine Editor’s Choice and CD of the month in Rondo Magazine. The second album, including Ma mère l’Oye, won a Diapason d’Or on its release in March 2018. Mirages, a vocal recital with Sabine Devieilhe for Erato, won a Diapason d’Or and was Victoires de la Musique Classique Recording of the Year, a Gramophone Editor’s Choice and Sunday Times Album of the Week. His first recording with the Gürzenich Orchestra, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, premiered in Cologne by the orchestra under Mahler in 1904, was released in December 2017 to enthusiastic reviews. Engagement with new audiences is an essential part of François-Xavier Roth’s work. With the Festival Berlioz and Les Siècles, he founded the Jeune Orchestre Européen Hector Berlioz, a unique orchestra-academy with its own collection of period instruments. Roth and Les Siècles devised Presto!, a television series for France 2, attracting weekly audiences of over three million. The Gürzenich Orchestra’s Ohrenauf! youth programme was recipient of a Junge Ohren Produktion Award. A tireless champion of contemporary music, he has been conductor of the ground-breaking LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme since its outset in 2005. Roth has premiered works by Yann Robin, Georg-Friedrich Haas, Hèctor Parra and Simon Steen-Anderson and collaborated with composers like Pierre Boulez, Wolfgang Rihm, Jörg Widmann and Helmut Lachenmann.
For his achievements as musician, conductor, music director and teacher, François-Xavier Roth was last year created a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur.
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
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"A young cellist whose emotionally resonant performances of both
traditional and contemporary music have earned her international
recognition, … Weilerstein is a consummate performer, combining
technical precision with impassioned musicianship." So stated the
MacArthur Foundation when awarding Alisa Weilerstein a 2011
MacArthur "genius grant" Fellowship, prompting the New
York Times to respond: "Any fellowship that recognizes
the vibrancy of an idealistic musician like Ms. Weilerstein …
deserves a salute from everyone in classical music." In
performances marked by intensity, sensitivity, and a wholehearted
immersion in each of the works she interprets, the American cellist
has long proven herself to be in possession of a distinctive
musical voice. An exclusive recording artist for Decca Classics
since 2010, she is the first cellist to be signed by the
prestigious label in more than 30 years.
To launch the 2014-15 season, Weilerstein joined the Milwaukee
Symphony and Edo de Waart for the Elgar concerto, which is also the
vehicle for engagements with the Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas
Symphony, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the Stuttgart Symphony,
the Netherlands Philharmonic, and Tokyo's NHK Symphony. She plays
Dvorák with the New York Philharmonic and Christoph von Dohnányi;
Haydn on a German tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra; and
Shostakovich with England's Hallé Orchestra, the Warsaw
Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall; and
collaborates with the Orchestre de Paris, Zurich's Tonhalle
Orchestra, Berlin's Konzerthausorchester, the Montreal Symphony,
the Czech Philharmonic, Denmark's Aalborg Symphony, Spain's
Orquesta de Valencia, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic. Upcoming
recital highlights include appearances in Boston, Aspen, and
London's Wigmore Hall, where Weilerstein showcases repertoire
from Solo, her 2014 Decca compilation of
unaccompanied 20th-century cello music. The album's centerpiece is
Kodály's Sonata, a signature work that she also performs on the
soundtrack of If I Stay, a 2014 feature film starring
Chloë Grace Moretz, in which the cellist makes a cameo appearance
For her first album on the Decca label, Weilerstein recorded the
Elgar and Elliott Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim and
the Staatskapelle Berlin. The disc was named "Recording of the Year
2013" by both Norman Lebrecht and BBC
Music magazine, which featured the cellist on the cover
of its May 2014 issue. On her second Decca disc, released in early
2014, she plays Dvorák's Cello Concerto with Jirí Belohlávek and
the Czech Philharmonic.
Weilerstein's major career milestones include an emotionally
devastating account of Elgar's concerto with the Berlin
Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim in Oxford, England, for the
orchestra's 2010 European Concert, which was televised live to an
audience of millions worldwide, and subsequently released on DVD by
EuroArts. She and Barenboim reunited in 2012-13 to play Elliott
Carter's concerto on a German tour with the Berlin Staatskapelle.
In 2009, she was one of four artists invited by Michelle Obama to
participate in a widely celebrated and high profile classical music
event at the White House, featuring student workshops hosted by the
First Lady and performances before guests including President Obama
and the First Family. A month later, Weilerstein toured Venezuela
as soloist with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra under Gustavo
Dudamel. She has since made numerous return visits to teach and
perform with the orchestra as part of its famed El
Sistema music education program. Other highlights of
recent seasons include her debuts at the BBC Proms in 2010, and
with England's Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which she
joined in 2013 for a 16-city U.S. tour.
Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Weilerstein is an
ardent champion of new music. She gave the New York premiere of
Matthias Pintscher's Reflections on
Narcissus under the composer's own direction during the
New York Philharmonic's inaugural 2014 Biennial, and has worked
extensively with Osvaldo Golijov, who
rewrote Azul for cello and orchestra (originally
premiered by Yo-Yo Ma) for her New York premiere performance at the
opening of the 2007 Mostly Mozart Festival. Weilerstein has since
played the work with orchestras around the world, besides
frequently programming the Argentinean composer's
Omaramor for solo cello. At the 2008 Caramoor
festival, she gave the world premiere of Lera
Auerbach's 24 Preludes for Violoncello and
Piano with the composer at the keyboard, and
the two have subsequently reprised the work at the
Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Kennedy Center, and for San
Francisco Performances. Joseph Hallman, a 2014 Grammy Award
nominee, has also written multiple works for Weilerstein, including
a cello concerto that she premiered with the St. Petersburg
Philharmonic in 2008.
Weilerstein has appeared at major music festivals throughout the
world, including Aspen, Bad Kissingen, Delft, Edinburgh, Jerusalem
Chamber Music, La Jolla SummerFest, Mostly Mozart, Salzburg,
Schleswig-Holstein, Tanglewood, and Verbier. In addition to her
appearances as a soloist and recitalist, Weilerstein performs
regularly as a chamber musician. She has been part of a core group
of musicians at the Spoleto Festival USA for the past eight years
and also performs with her parents, Donald and Vivian Hornik
Weilerstein, as the Weilerstein Trio, the trio-in-residence at
Boston's New England Conservatory.
The cellist is the winner of both Lincoln Center's 2008 Martin E.
Segal prize for exceptional achievement and the 2006 Leonard
Bernstein Award. She received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2000
and was selected for two prestigious young artists programs in the
2000-01 season: the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organization)
"Rising Stars" recital series and the Chamber Music Society of
Lincoln Center's Chamber Music Society Two.
Born in 1982, Weilerstein discovered her love for the cello at
just two and a half, when her grandmother assembled a makeshift set
of instruments from cereal boxes to entertain her while she was ill
with chicken pox. Although immediately drawn to the Rice Krispies
box cello, Weilerstein soon grew frustrated that it didn't produce
any sound. After persuading her parents to buy her a real cello at
the age of four, she developed a natural affinity for the
instrument and gave her first public performance six months later.
At 13, in October 1995, she played Tchaikovsky's "Rococo"
Variations for her Cleveland Orchestra debut, and in March 1997 she
made her first Carnegie Hall appearance with the New York Youth
Symphony. A graduate of the Young Artist Program at the Cleveland
Institute of Music, where she studied with Richard Weiss, the
cellist also graduated in May 2004 with a degree in History from
Columbia University. In November 2008, Weilerstein, who was
diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, became a
Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Last updated October 2014.
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Alisa Weilerstein, cello