NICE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
In 2017, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice celebrated its 70th birthday: it was in 1947 that the City of Nice established the administrative and functional structure for the orchestra founded in 1945, originally under the name “Orchestre Symphonique Municipal”. For 70 years, this prestigious ensemble has played an important role in musical life in the south of France. Its new musical director since 1 September 2017, György G. Ráth, aspires to carry on the tradition of continually seeking excellence, by increasing the orchestra’s activities, enriching and broadening its repertoire, and extending invitations to the world’s top musicians.
Rich, varied activity
The Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice presents a packed season of ten major symphonic concerts, each performed on two consecutive days, which find it in its largest formation for the most monumental works in the repertoire, under the baton of well-known conductors and accompanying some of the most brilliant soloists from the international stage. A dozen family concerts on Sunday mornings provide an opportunity for the orchestra’s musical director to give the general public, always extremely numerous, a simple, approachable introduction to the masterpieces of classical music from all periods, with the aid of the orchestra’s musicians and soloists. Each season, members of the orchestra perform an average of 20 to 30 concerts of chamber music at a variety of venues, such as the foyer of the Opéra, the Musée National Marc Chagall, the auditorium of the Bibliothèque Louis Nucéra and the Palais Lascaris.
The orchestra accompanies all of the operas staged at the Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, as well as the great classical ballets on the annual Christmas programme of the Ballet Nice Méditerranée. It performs at the “C’est pas classique” festival, organised every year by the Department of Alpes-Maritimes at the Palais Acropolis, and at the MANCA festival of contemporary music.
It livens up the city by giving a series of open-air concerts – from the central Place Masséna for Bastille Day, to the more outlying districts – and always brings in the New Year in the company of 2 500 enthusiastic locals at the Acropolis. With “Les Estivales”, a festival held every summer on the initiative of the Department, the orchestra spreads music throughout the region, in varying formations, often simultaneously.
An eclectic repertoire, a quest for excellence
From the baroque of Vivaldi and Handel to first performances of contemporary works, such is the extent of the orchestra’s repertoire. It has performed all of Mahler and Bruckner’s symphonies alongside those of Brahms and Beethoven. The great works of Richard Strauss – from the symphonies to his wonderful symphonic poems – alternate with those of Schumann, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Boulez. The orchestra’s new festival, “Musiques d’aujourd’hui à demain”, and MANCA are an opportunity to explore the late 20th-century and contemporary musical repertoire.
To maintain its high musical standards, the orchestra is joined by excellent conductors such as Georges Prêtre, Mikhail Jurowski, Ion Marin, Gerd Albrecht, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Lawrence Foster, Jacques Lacombe, Jeffrey Tate, Neeme Järvi, Michal Nesterowicz and Giancarlo Guerrero. The international reputation enjoyed by the orchestra in recent years has stimulated the world’s top soloists to come back again and again to add weight to its concerts. Jonas Kaufmann, Barbara Hendricks, Krystian Zimerman, Nelson Freire, Franck Peter Zimmermann, Julian Rachlin, Thomas Zehetmair, Philippe Bianconi, Cédric Tiberghien, Bertrand Chamayou, Xavier De Maistre and Albrecht Mayer are just some of the more recent names to have been accompanied by this prestigious ensemble.
The orchestra elsewhere
The Philharmonique de Nice regularly performs at the Printemps des Arts, in Monte Carlo. It has also played at the top summer opera festivals: Chorégies d’Orange, Sferisterio de Macerata, Festival de Montpellier-Radio France, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Musiques au Cœur d’Antibes and Festival Génération Virtuoses in Antibes. Overseas, it did a two-week tour in Japan in 2007, and gave two performances of Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House Muscat, in Oman, during the 2012-2013 opera season.