June 3, 2008

Bergen Philharmonic and Litton Re-Up

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra of Norway and American conductor Andrew Litton announce their agreement to extend Litton's tenure as Music Director of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra through the 2010/2011 season. Hailed as one of Europe's strongest artistic partnerships, Litton and Bergen have brought one of the world's oldest orchestras (founded in 1765) to new international stature. Since Litton's appointment as its Music Director in 2003 the orchestra has toured extensively throughout Europe, appeared at Vienna's Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, made a London BBC Proms debut last summer and a triumphant American tour in November, its first US tour in 41 years. Edvard Grieg was one of the orchestra's prior Music Directors. 

The New York Times wrote of its Carnegie Hall concert: "...The Bergen Philharmonic played with an unusual solidity and warmth, and produced a breadth of color that gave it a distinctive sonic thumbprint...the orchestra's strengths carry it a long way....the impeccable firmness of the brass choirs and woodwinds was immediately striking, as was the vigor of the percussion...Mr. Litton's reading had the virtues of supremely polished surfaces with raw, often savage emotion swirling just beneath them."

The Bergen Philharmonic and Litton have active recording relationships with the Scandinavian label BIS and British Hyperion. Their recently released BIS CD of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Vadim Gluzman won ClassicFM magazine's coveted Disc of the Month in May. It noted: "Conductor Andrew Litton's transformation of Norway's Bergen Philharmonic into one of Europe's most lithe and sensitive orchestras has rendered it among the finest accompaniment providers available; a luxurious partner for any soloist, especially when the formidable skills of Litton are thrown in as part of the deal."

Litton played a key role in the recent creation of a Norwegian Opera company, Den Nye Opera, with the Bergen Philharmonic as pit orchestra. Opera Magazine wrote of its Carmen last season: “Good as the singing was, the major share of the credit goes to the Bergen Philharmonic, which played gorgeously under Litton”.

Andrew Litton said: "I'm thrilled to be extending my stay in one of the most beautiful spots in the world with some of the finest musicians I have met anywhere. We've started planning our next American tour already. Those cities which have yet to know the Bergen Philharmonic won't have to wait another 40 years." Litton and the Bergen Philharmonic, with 360 musicians and choristers on stage, perform Schonberg's Gurrelieder at the Bergen International Festival this week, cybercast Thursday, June 5 at 13:30 EDT on Norwegian Radio NRK P2.