Rotterdam Sinfonia Special
Wednesdays in June
Sinfonia Rotterdam and its chief conductor Conrad van Alphen are known far beyond the borders of their home country – the Netherlands – for their energetic and inspiring performances. On five Wednesday nights in June, Sinfonia Rotterdam demonstrates its musical range in a series of concert premieres. On June 2, Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam, the Octopus Symphonic Choir, and four vocal soloists in a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 at De Doelen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, recorded in 2019. In the following weeks, orchestra and conductor take on several all-time favorites from classical music: Gustav Holst’s 'The Planets' (June 9), Gioachino Rossini’s Overture from 'Il barbiere di Siviglia', W. A. Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, K. 385, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy-Overture to 'Romeo and Juliet', TH 42.
Beethoven - Symphony No. 9
Wednesday, 2 June | 21:00
Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam, the Octopus Symphonic Choir, and four vocal soloists in a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 at De Doelen, Rotterdam, in 2019. Van Alphen founded Sinfonia Rotterdam in 2000. Under his passionate leadership, this orchestra has developed into one of the Netherland's best-known orchestras. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is widely considered Beethoven’s greatest composition. He completed this symphony in 1824, when he was almost completely deaf. This symphony is unique, since Beethoven included a choir and vocal soloists in the last movement, in which he set parts of Friedrich Schiller's poem “Ode an die Freude” (“Ode to Joy”) to music. The symphony consists of four movements: Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso, Molto vivace, Adagio molto e cantabile, and Finale. The four vocal soloists are Gulnara Shafigullina (soprano), Claire Barnett-Jones (mezzosoprano), Matthew Newlin (tenor), and Frederik Bergman (baritone).
Holst - The Planets
Wednesday, 9 June | 21:00
Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam and the Nationaal Vrouwen Jeugdkoor in a performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Op. 32, recorded at De Doelen, Rotterdam, in 2019. Holst worked on his orchestral suite The Planets, as an expression of his interest in astrology, from 1914 to 1916. The Planets consists of seven movements, each one named after the planet known at that time (excluding Earth), and its corresponding astrological character: “Mars: the Bringer of War”, “Venus: the Bringer of Peace”, “Mercury: the Winged Messenger”, “Jupiter: the Bringer of Jollity”, “Saturn: the Bringer of Old Age”, “Uranus: the Magician”, and “Neptune: the Mystic”. The middle section of Jupiter features a glorious melody that has become widely known. Holst adapted this melody when he set the poem “I Vow to thee to thy Country” to music. The last movement of The Planets includes a women’s choir, lending the music its mysterious, celestial atmosphere.
Rossini - Overture from The Barber of Seville
Wednesday, 16 June | 21:00
Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam in a performance of Gioachino Rossini’s Overture from Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), at De Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, in 2020. Rossini composed Il barbiere, his best-known opera, in just three weeks. Although its 1816 premiere was a disaster, Rossini’s witty and lively opera quickly gained popularity. To date, Il barbiere di Siviglia is one of his most-performed works. Rossini frequently borrowed his own music for his new opera’s, including the famous overture of Il barbiere di Siviglia. For this overture, he used music from two of his earlier operas, Aureliano in Palmira (1813), and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (1815).
Mozart - Symphony No. 35
Wednesday, 23 June | 22:30
Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam in a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K. 385, recorded at the Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, in 2020. Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 is also known as the “Haffner Symphony”. In 1782, the Haffner family from Salzburg commissioned Mozart to write a new piece on the occasion of the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner. Mozart agreed, and initially composed a serenade before recasting it as a symphony a few months later: the “Haffner Symphony”. One of his revisions was the addition of more instruments in the first and last movement, resulting in a fuller sound. The symphony consists of four movements: Allegro con spirito, Andante, Menuetto, and Presto.
Tchaikovsky - Overture-Fantasy “Romeo and Juliet”
Wednesday, 30 June | 21:00
Conrad van Alphen conducts Sinfonia Rotterdam in a performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy “Romeo and Juliet”. Tchaikovsky based his composition on Shakespeare’s famous play “Romeo and Juliet”. After finishing a first version of Romeo and Juliet in 1870, Tchaikovsky rewrote sections of the composition twice, completing the third and final version ten years later. The Overture-Fantasy opens with a slow introduction, primarily led by the clarinets and bassoons. The composition is dominated by its famous love theme, representing the love between Romeo and Juliet. This beautiful theme is introduced in the first half of the piece, played by the English horn and violas, and recurs in different sections of the composition. At the end, the love theme is heard in minor mode, which emphasized the tragic element of the story of the two lovers.