The Basel Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest and most important orchestras in Switzerland. It is rooted in the north-west of Switzerland and at the same time enjoys a more than regional as well as international radiance. The Basel Symphony Orchestra is always again demonstrating anew its excellent quality, whether it be in its own concert tiers, in the Theater Basel or in guest concerts at home or abroad. Since 2009, the principal conductor has been the renowned American conductor and pianist Dennis Russell Davies.
Among the conductors with whom the Basel Symphony Orchestra has been or is closely bound are to be found names such as Mario Venzago, Valery Gergiev or Pierre Boulez, as well as Nello Santi, Otto Klemperer, Horst Stein, Armin Jordan, Walter Weller, Gary Bertini, Antal Dorati, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Gustav Mahler, Felix Weingartner or Johannes Brahms. The Basel Symphony Orchestra has had world premieres for a whole range of the most important works of the twentieth century, among others those of Béla Bartók, Arthur Honegger and Bohuslav Martinu.
Numerous CD productions, some of which received international acclaim and awards, give record of the orchestra’s work. Since a few years ago the Basel Symphony Orchestra has been demonstrating an increasing international presence. In 2010, for example, the orchestra toured around China. It has also played two much accredited for concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow in fall 2012 and has recently toured around England in spring 2014.
Dennis Russell Davies
Dennis Russell Davies’ activities as an opera and concert conductor, and as a pianist and chamber musician, are characterized by an extensive repertoire from Baroque to modern music. Widely considered to be one of the most innovative conductors in the classical music world, Dennis Russell Davies has successfully challenged and inspired audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. He is noted for his exciting and well-structured concert programmes and for close working relationships with many composers, such as William Bolcom, John Cage, Manfred Trojahn, Philip Glass, Heinz Winbeck, Hans Werner Henze etc.
After first appointments as Musical Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the American Composers Orchestra in New York, Davies moved to Europe. He held positions as Music Director of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, Chief Conductor of the Beethovenhalle Orchestra and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Music Director of the Bonn Opera and the International Beethoven Festival. In Austria, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and entrusted with a conducting professorship at the Salzburg Mozarteum in 1997. In 2002 Davies became Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra Linz as well as Opera Director at the Landestheater Linz. Since August 2009 he assumed responsibility as Chief Conductor of the Basel Symphony Orchestra, Switzerland.
In Europe he has worked with Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala di Milano, Munich and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and so on. After his début at the Bayreuth Festival 1978-1980 his operatic work has included conducting at Salzburg Festival, Lincoln Center Festival New York, Houston Grand Opera, Hamburg and the Bavarian State Operas, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera New York and Opéra National de Paris.
Dennis Russell Davies was born in Toledo (Ohio) in 1944 and studied piano and conducting at the Juilliard School, New York. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Fazil Say was born in Ankara on 14 January 1970. He began playing the piano at the age of four and commenced piano studies when he was eleven. A workshop with David Levine and Aribert Reimann in Ankara provided the decisive impulse to begin composing. He composed his work Black Hymns at the age of sixteen. His career was given further impetus through the award of the first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York; since then Fazil Say has given over 100 concerts each year. Large-scale compositions followed such as the 2nd Piano Concerto Silk Road which Say premiered in Boston in 1996 and performed more than a dozen times during the concert season 2003/2004. He was Artist in Residence at Radio France in both 2003 and 2005. Fazil Say founded a world jazz quintet in 2000 with whom he has performed in numerous jazz festivals including Montreux and Istanbul.
Say’s musical career is characterised by his double role as composer and internationally renowned pianist. His musical concepts are influenced by his great interest in jazz and improvisation and he frequently incorporates these elements into his compositions. His oratorio Nâzım, set to verses by the Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet and commissioned by the Turkish Ministry for Cultural Affairs was given its first performance in Ankara in the presence of the Turkish President in 2001. In the Mozart commemorative year 2006, the city of Vienna commissioned the ballet Patara as homage to the great Classical composer. The composer is adventurous in his atmospheric orchestral texture and the utilisation of Turkish percussion instruments in bridging the gap between the music of his native country, elements of jazz and European art music.