ICO 2013, photo: Konrad Ćwik
ICO 2013, photo: Konrad Ćwik

I, CULTURE Orchestra – 99 young musicians from Poland and countries of the Eastern Partnership – will begin this year’s tournee on the 26th of August in Gdańsk, and then move on to Reykjavik, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Tallinn and Kyiv

The I, Culture Orchestra (ICO) was initiated in 2011 by the Adam Mickieiwcz Institute in Warsaw as part of the cultural programme of Poland's EU Council Presidency, which employed art and cultural activities in deepening relations between European Union citizens and those of Eastern Partnership countries. Since that initial installment of the ICO project, a new group of young instrumentalists and their conductor are selected each year in auditions open to musicians from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia, Poland and Ukraine - the nations of the Eastern Partnership.

The orchestra will be on tour from the 26th of August to the 6th of September. They will play concerts in Gdańsk (26 August), Rejkajavik (29 August), Gothenburg (31 August), Copenhagen (2 September), Tallinn (3 September), and Kiev 4 (September).  The programme comprises the symphonic ballade Grażyna by Ukrainian composer Boris Lyatoshynsky (his op. 58, from 1955), Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1, op. 10, Lutosławski's Cello Concerto and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra.

The I, CULTURE Orchestra played under Sir Neville Marriner in 2011 for their inaugural season, and under Maestro Paweł Kotla. The ensemble of young musicians in 2012 was conducted by Ilyich Rivas. ICO's 2013 formation performs with Kirill Karabits, chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony for the past four seasons and recipient of the 2013 RPS Conductor of the Year Award. Maestro Karabits has collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, in spite of his young age, and has performed at festivals including the BBC Proms, the Wagner Festival in Geneva and the Ludwig van Bethoveen Easter Festival 2013 in Warsaw.

Soloists with the ICO for the 2013 season are cellist Truls Mørk and pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. Mørk is known for his instrumental skills and for his wide array of interests in interpreting contemporary and classical cello compositions. He presented the world premiere of Pavel Haas' Cello Concerto, has performed the Concerto Grosso of Krzysztof Penderecki and may be best known for interpreting Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonatas. During Lutosławski Year 2013, he has toured internationally as soloist in the composer's renowned Cello Concert with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Symphonia Orchestra, including concerts in London at Royal Albert Hall and in Warsaw at the National Philharmonic. His interpretation was quoted as "a powerful, defiant opera without word" in Andrew Clark's review for the Financial Times.

Khatia Buniatishvili received enthusiastic receptions for solo recitals and chamber concerts at London's Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Viennese Musikverein. She debuted in the U.S. in 2008 with a performance of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 at Carnegie Hall. Buniatishvili was presented with the BBC Three Programme's Artists of the New Generation title, and was honoured with the Rising Star award of the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna in the 2011-12 season. The pianist evokes the legendary names of Argerich, Gulda, Richter and Rachmaninoff as her masters. Her playing has a distinct warm and at times sombre style, which reflects the young instrumentalist's fascination with folk music in her native Georgia.

The instrumental tutors for the ICO in 2013 are Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay (I violin), Clare Thompson (II violin), Yuko Inoue (viola), Paul Cortese (viola), David Watkin (cello), John Heley (cello), Leon Bosch (base), Samuel Coles (flute), Philip Nodel (oboe), Robin O'Neill (bassoon), Jeff Bryant (horn), Alistair Mackie (trumpet), Dan Jenkins (trombone), Marie-Pierre Chavaroche (harp), Damien Bassman (percussion) and Andrew Cresci (tuba).

A complete list of the 99 members of the I, CULTURE Orchestra 2013 is available on their website.

Paweł Potoroczyn, director of IAM, the orchestra's sponsoring organization, stated in his speech inaugurating the I, CULTURE Orchestra:

In 1976 Leonard Bernestein lead a series of six lectures at Harvard University which he entitled The Unanswered Question. The author of West Side Story advanced a controversial statement, namely, that classical music is a language as natural for human beings as speech itself. This thesis is impossible to prove scientifically, but our intuition provides us with hints that music can help bring people together, people who are separated since the fall of the Tower of Babel, and also those who are presently often in tragic conflict.[...] In order to prove our hypothesis, let's try it with the example: Armenia-Azerbeijan-Belarus-Georgia-Moldavia-Poland-Ukraine. I, CULTURE Orchestra brings together young and talented musicians from these very countries. Throughout their everyday encounters, a new harmony is brought to life. And we await the time when it shall seep through and beyond the wall of the concert halls.

Concerts:

August 26, 7 pm Gdańsk – Polish Baltic F. Chopin Philharmonic

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Witold Lutosławski – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

August 29, 7:30 pm Reykjavik – Concert Hall “Harpa”

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 1 op. 10
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

August 31, 3 pm Gothenburg – Concert Hall in Gothenburg

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Witold Lutosławski – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

September 2, 7:30 pm Copenhagen – Concert Hall of the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Witold Lutosławski – Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

September 3, 7 pm Tallinn – Concert Hall “Estonia”

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 1 op. 10
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

September 4, 7 pm Kiev – National Philharmonic of Ukraine

Boris Lyatoshynsky– Symphonic Ballad “Grażyna” op. 58
Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 1 op. 10
Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestra

Editor: Filip Lech, translated by Paulina Schlosser, 26.04.2013 (updated 20.08.2013 - LS)