I, CULTURE Orchestra
The I, CULTURE Orchestra follows the example of such renowned ensembles as the European Union Youth Orchestra and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Its members include young people from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus as well as other European countries to the east of the European Union, among them Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In the autumn of 2011 the I, CULTURE Orchestra will tour the most prestigious concert halls in Europe as a youth ambassador of the Eastern Partnership.
Poland's location at the heart of Europe has endowed this nation with a long history of connecting Europe to the east and west. In commemorating the Polish Presidency of the EU Council, it should be emphasised that both geographical regions have had a strong influence on European cultural identity. Moreover, western societies ought to be reminded of the cultural richness and long-standing tradition of European countries from beyond the eastern boundaries of the Schengen Area. The project aims to bring on permanent change in the approach towards orchestra education in the participating countries and hopefully leave a strong impression on the musical map of Europe for future generations.
As part of this project, young and talented musicians from Eastern Europe have the opportunity to work under the direction of some of the most eminent teachers from leading orchestras in Western Europe, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Opera de Lyon and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Auditions took place in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova between February 18-25 and mid-March of this year. Out of the 700 people who auditioned, only 100 were successful. All participants are under 25 years of age.
This merging of musical talent from Eastern Europe with experienced musicians from Western Europe will be a historical milestone. The aim is to achieve the highest artistic level possible, comparable to the best European orchestras of this type. Willingness to cooperate with the orchestra has been so far confirmed by the participation of such exceptional musicians as Sir Neville Marriner and Julia Fischer.
Between the 23rd of August and 5th of September, 2010, a pilot programme for the project hosted a seven-day master course in the modern campus of the Gdańsk Academy of Music. Young musicians from Poland and the Ukraine prepared a symphonic programme under the guidance of the orchestra's artistic director, Pawel Kotla. The leading young conductor has collaborated with such ensembles as the London Symphony Orchestra, the European Union Youth Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He studied symphonic and opera conducting under Professor Ryszard Dudek and Professor Boguslaw Madey at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He also completed postgraduate studies in musicology and in 'performance of early music' at the University of Oxford. Moreover, he attended courses in Vienna, Siena, Innsbruck and Brixen, studying under the legendary Finnish professor Jorma Panula. He settled in London over ten years ago and currently conducts in the London Symphony Orchestra.
The young artists of the I, CULTURE Orchestra will work under the supervision of a group of tutors of exceptional rank - a rarity even among the best youth orchestras in Europe.
- Meyrick Alexander was the Principal Bassoonist of London's Philharmonic Orchestra for over thirty years. He was appointed by Riccardo Muti. Between 1980 and 2010 he worked with most of the world's leading conductors, including Maazel, Guilini, Ashkenazy, Svetlanov, Dohnanyi, Salonen, Sinopoli, Ozawa, Haitink, Harnoncourt, Mackerras and many others, appearing as a soloist in concerts and recordings. During this period he performed with John Eliot Gardiner's Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2010 Meyrick Alexander was appointed Head of Woodwind at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (www.rwcmd.ac.uk) and continues to play in the London Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and many other ensembles.
- Rod Franks - Principal Trumpet of the London Symphony Orchestra. Rod began to study trumpet with Maurice Murphy at the age of 15. At 17, having joined Brighouse and Rastrick, he was appointed Assistant Principal Cornet of Black Dyke Mills Band. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and graduated having been awarded the Hiles Gold Medal in 1977. In the same year, he was appointed Principal Trumpet of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. He worked for the Bergen Philharmonic for seven years. During this time he also performed as a soloist, conducted a number of concerts and founded the Norwegian Brass Band Club and Championships. In 1983, Philip Jones invited Rod to become Principal Trumpet of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and he maintained a busy freelance schedule until 1989, subsequently joining the London Symphony Orchestra as Principal Trumpet in 1990.
- Peter Thomas spent the first ten years of his professional career in chamber music, first as second violin in the Allegri String Quartet, one of the most prestigious world ensembles, and then as ensemble-in-residence at Southampton University through the Orion Piano Trio, which he co-created along with with Sharon McKinley and Ian Brown. During their time there, they were awarded the BBC Beethoven Prize and subsequently gave many concerts and broadcasts both at home and abroad. Thomas has also performed regularly with the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields. The next twenty years were spent as an orchestral leader, first with the National Orchestra of Wales, then the Philharmonic, and finally with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for the last decade of Simon Rattle's directorship. As a soloist, he has frequently performed with the CBSO, with a particular emphasis on the concertos of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Elgar and Brahms. He has also guest conducted for many orchestras during his career, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Most recently, he has been a guest conductor for a number of orchestras in Spain.
Also see: Musicians of the I, CULTURE Orchestra
The preliminary programme for the I, Culture autumn tour includes the Berliner Philharmonie on November 2, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels on November 4, the Royal Festival Hall in London on November 6 and the Teatro Real in Madrid on November 8.
More locations are yet to be announced - to follow the I, Culture tour, see: orchestra.iam.pl.