This performance is sponsored by Mizuho Financial Group.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) is one of the world's leading orchestras, lauded by critics for its unique sound. The orchestra's string section has been called "velvety," the sound of the brass "golden," and the timbre of the woodwinds "distinctly personal." The percussion section has an international reputation for excellence, with the exceptional acoustics of the concert hall playing an important role in this respect.
Equally important is the quality of each musician and the influence exerted on the orchestra by its chief conductors, of which there have been only seven since the orchestra was founded in 1888: Willem Kes (1888-1895), Willem Mengelberg (1895-1945), Eduard van Beinum (1945-1959), Bernard Haitink (1961-1988), Riccardo Chailly (1988-2004), Mariss Jansons (2004-2015), and Daniele Gatti (2016-2017). Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and other leading composers have conducted the orchestra on multiple occasions.
The RCO regularly collaborates with contemporary composers, including its three house composers: Michel van der Aa, Detlev Glanert, and Richard Rijnvos. In addition to some 90 concerts performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the orchestra gives 40 concerts a year at other leading concert halls around the world. The orchestra has made more than 1,100 recordings to date, many of which have won international distinctions. Since 2004, the orchestra has boasted its own in-house label, RCO Live.
In celebration of its 125th anniversary in 2013, the orchestra embarked on a world tour, visiting six continents in a single year. Between 2016 and 2018, all member states of the European Union will be visited during the RCO Meets Europe concert tour. In each EU country, the orchestra will perform at least one work side by side with a local youth orchestra.
As a pupil of the legendary Russian pedagogue Ilya Musin, Semyon Bychkov belongs to a select group of notable conductors who were trained at the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1975, at the age of 22, he left for the US to pursue an international career free from the limitations of the Soviet regime. He made his name as the music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, he became chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris and the Semperoper Dresden.
In 1997, Mr. Bychkov became chief conductor of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, a position he held for 13 years. In addition to symphonic repertoire, opera has played an important part in his career. In 2003, he made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with Strauss's Elektra. He has also conducted at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Vienna State Opera, La Scala in Milan, and Salzburg Festival.
Mr. Bychkov is regularly invited to guest conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. He is also an annual guest at the BBC Proms.
Mr. Bychkov made his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1984. In February 2015, he conducted the orchestra in Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major, and Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat Major with pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque.