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News 25 Jun 17

Belgrade Philharmonic Promises ‘Largest-Ever’ Open-Air Concert

The Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra hopes to attract tens of thousands to its grand open-air concert tonight.

Filip Rudic

New chief conductor Gabriel Feltz and the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra

Headed by new chief conductor Gabriel Feltz, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra is hoping to draw tens of thousands of people at an open-air concert featuring classical compositions selected by the public in an online vote.

The event will be held on Sunday, June 25 near the Palace of Serbia building in New Belgrade. Entrance is free of charge.

Feltz says he hopes the event, which is being billed as Serbia’s largest ever open-air classical music concert, will attract new audiences from across the country.

“I am fascinated with the subscribers to the Belgrade Philharmonic, whom I meet at our regular concerts. I feel we share a special bond that I deeply care about. That is why I am especially anxious to meet the audience from all over Serbia and the region,” Feltz said.

The concert venue is in New Belgrade’s Block 13, which is also the site of the planned new Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert hall. The public tender for designs for the new concert hall closed in January this year, so a construction timetable has not yet been announced.

The orchestra is currently based at the Ilija M. Kolarac Endowment building in central Belgrade.

Famous Indian-born maestro Zubin Mehta, music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, will be joining the open-air concert as a special guest of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Belgrade Philharmonic said it was proud to present Mehta’s performance as a “special gift to the national and regional audiences”.

“I am very pleased that the long-time dream of all people in Serbia who wish for a new concert hall is on the way to becoming reality. I am happy to participate in laying down its ‘musical cornerstone’ at the grand spectacle that the Belgrade Philharmonic is holding,” Zubin Mehta said in comments published on the Belgrade Philharmonic’s website.

Maestro Mehta will perform the Finale of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 5th Symphony at the “triumphant” end of the open-air concert, the Belgrade Philharmonic said.

As many as 17,397 music lovers answered the call to vote for compositions to be included in the concert’s programme.

The compositions that won the most votes include Danzon no. 2 by the Mexican composer Arturo Marquez, followed by Dmitri Shostakovitch’s Waltz, Danse Macabre by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, Grlica (Turtledove) by Serbian late romanticist Stevan Hristic and Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell.

Other works that will be performed include Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King, Carmen by Georges Bizet, and John Williams’ popular Imperial March from the Star Wars movies.

The Philharmonic has not revealed which compositions will be played during the encore.

Tickets for Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra performances usually sell out very quickly each season. It sold 20,000 tickets for the 2017/18 season in just four weeks.

This is the first season for the newly-appointed chief conductor, Gabriel Feltz, who will lead the orchestra for the next four years. Feltz was born in 1971 in Berlin and was previously musical director of the Dortmund Opera and chief conductor of the Dortmund Philharmonic.

He was also the chief conductor of the Altenburg-Gera Philharmonic and Stuttgart Philharmonic. He has worked with various orchestras in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, but also China and South Korea.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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