CULTURE

Classical music’s finest in Athens

As part of its Great Orchestras and Great Conductors series, the Athens Concert Hall has invited the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (which is currently performing Strauss’s opera «The Woman Without a Shadow») and conductor Michael Schonwandt to perform Carl Nielsen’s «Alladin» suite for orchestra, opus 34, Gustav Mahler’s «Rueckert Lieder» and Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No 2 in D major, on Sunday evening. Founded in 1925, the orchestra is Denmark’s largest and most prestigious musical ensemble. During its 75th anniversary season in 2000, German conductor Gerd Albrecht joined the orchestra as principal conductor, while the post of principal guest conductor is shared by Yuri Temirkanov and Thomas Dausgaard. Other international names at the helm of the orchestra over the past few years have included Christoph Eschenbach, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Gary Bertini, Herbert Blomstedt, Jeffrey Tate, Christopher Hogwood, Marcello Viotti and Kurt Sanderling. Many of the great conductors of the 20th century have worked with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra: Paul Kletzki, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, Bruno Walter, Willem Mengelberg, Rafael Kubelik and Sergiu Celibidache. Two legendary conductors built the orchestra up in its early years: Fritz Busch and the Russian Nikolai Malko, whom the orchestra honor through the international Malko Competition for Young Conductors, which is held every three years. In 1996 the Danish National Symphony Orchestra took part in the celebrations of Copenhagen as European Culture Capital with, among other events, the internationally acclaimed Scandinavian premiere of the complete three-act version of Alban Berg’s opera «Lulu» at Christiansborg Ridehus. Michael Schonwandt was born in Copenhagen in 1953 and is currently the director of the Royal Orchestra and Royal Opera of Copenhagen. He studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music and in 1977 was given the post of chief permanent conductor at the Royal Opera of Denmark. He has stood on the podium of some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses, conducting leading orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna philharmonics. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali and Vas. Sofias, tel 010.728.2000, www.megaron.com.