GMJO Sommerprojekte 2020

A Tribute to Claudio Abbado — Visionary beyond Borders

Founded by Claudio Abbado in 1987 and directed by him until his death in 2014, the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER (GMJO) is frequently considered to be the conductor’s most important and most lasting legacy. With its current project—bold and transcending borders in challenging times—the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER pays tribute to its visionary founder.

In 1987, Claudio Abbado was deeply passionate about enabling talented young musicians on both sides of the Iron Curtain to make music together; despite their shared, unifying cultural past—the riches of the central European musical tradition—the musicians were separated by the political realities of the present. Abbado’s vision transcended artistic and humanitarian borders in equal measure, and required courage, initiative and the power of persuasion from Abbado and the co-founders of the GMJO. It has offered generations of young talents significant musical impulses and personal experiences.

Today, over thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Europe and the entire globe are confronted with an unprecedented crisis; new borders, boundaries and restrictions have riven the continent for the past few months. Human lives have been lost; illness, suffering and fear have spread; European borders were closed, events cancelled, and many people have been separated from one another.

Then as now, the power and common language of music consoles people and brings them together. Following the spirit of their visionary founder Claudio Abbado, the GMJO and its musicians from several European countries have put together a special project that aims to unite people once again, to transcend borders, and to offer new hope and confidence in these times of COVID-19.

The programme that the GMJO has chosen to present at its residencies in Pordenone and Bolzano/Bozen, with a smaller but nonetheless international ensemble, draws closely on the plans for a large-scale tour that would have seen the GMJO perform at the Salzburg Festival, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and elsewhere, and includes works which were particularly dear to Claudio Abbado.

Abbado himself conducted the GMJO in a performance of the intimate, comforting entr’acte from Schubert’s Rosamunde, and Mahler’s song cycles featured regularly on his carefully thought-out concert programmes, as did the orchestral works of Wagner, Webern and Debussy. Claudio Abbado spoke frequently about his passion for Shostakovich’s compositions, and for his chamber music in particular; indeed, the incidental music for King Lear was included in Abbado’s farewell concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Chamber music by Janáček, Shostakovich, Poulenc and the contemporary Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud round off the present project, offering far more than an emergency programme.

The GMJO are joined for their project by the exceptional artist ANGELA DENOKE, who worked closely with Claudio Abbado in performances ranging from Peter Stein’s now legendary production of Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival of 1997 to numerous concert engagements—including performances of Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Claudio Abbado and the GMJO in the summer of 1998. With MAURIZIO BAGLINI, piano, and MARTÍN BAEZA-RUBIO, trumpet (himself a former member of the GMJO), two further internationally acclaimed artists join the orchestra in Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra No.1.

Moreover, it is undoubtedly in the spirit of the visionary Claudio Abbado that the GMJO is led by the young Austrian conductor TOBIAS WÖGERER, who continues the tradition of his illustrious predecessors at the helm of the GMJO, from Franz-Welser Möst (himself a mentor of Tobias Wögerer) to Manfred Honeck and Lorenzo Viotti.

The project also features a concert in cooperation with the Staatskapelle Dresden, recalling the ensemble’s performance of Schoenberg’s “Gurre-Lieder” under the baton of Christian Thielemann earlier this year (March 2020). This time, the orchestra will be joining forces with conductor DUNCAN WARD and baritone CHRISTIAN GERHAHER, delving into Othmar Schoeck’s Elegie and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5.

All of these performers, along with thousands of former members of the GUSTAV MAHLER JUGENDORCHESTER and the ensemble’s current musicians, represent the legacy bequeathed to us by Claudio Abbado, a visionary who transcended borders: music unites people beyond all boundaries.

We are very grateful for your loyalty and invite you most warmly to continue accompanying and supporting us on this journey.