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National Orchestra of Belgium
Hometown: Belgium
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Since it was founded, precisely 75 years ago, the NOB has, naturally, written itself a history. In the last three-quarters of a century, inspiring conductors such as André Cluytens (1958-67), Michael Gielen (1968-75), Mikko Franck (2002-07), and, since 2007, Walter Weller, have stood at the head of the orchestra. They brought their own personal interpretations to the symphonic classics and responded keenly to social reality by passionately defending contemporary music, amongst other things. To this day, music by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, or Mahler appears next to pieces by Kancheli or Pintscher, and of course new music by Belgian composers such as Luc Van Hove, Jean-Paul Dessy, Luc Brewaeys, Dirk Brossé, and Pierre Bartholomée. The NOB is also continually forging links with different social groups, by playing extensive programmes or by setting up a whole range of educational projects. The Russian conductor Andrey Boreyko will be the new musical director of the NOB as of September 2012, and will be able to add his own touches to this tradition. His openness to recent music from different movements and genres will offer many possibilities for even more innovative programmes. This same openness is shared by Stefan Blunier, who has been the first guest conductor of the NOB since September 2010.

When it comes to soloists, promising young musicians such as Lorenzo Gatto and Plamena Mangova are given the chance to appear alongside such world-class artists as Hélène Grimaud, Vadim Repin, Sergey Khachatryan, Boris Berezovsky, Pinchas Zukerman, and Frank Peter Zimmerman. The NOB often encounters these young talents thanks to its excellent relationship with the Queen Elisabeth Competition, not least during the final evenings of the violin and piano sessions, which are followed worldwide by various media. Recent years have also seen the start of a beautiful tradition of working with opera stars. The passionate encounters with Roberto Alagna, Jonas Kaufmann, Rolando Villazon, Anna Netrebko, and Juan Diego Flórez yielded unforgettable moments for both the orchestra and the audience.

Also in this jubilee year the NOB is a privileged partner of the Brussels Centre for Fine Arts, where, working with BOZAR MUSIC, it presents a varied series of concerts in the wonderful Henry Le Boeuf Hall. The orchestra also plays in all of the Belgian provinces, for all three of the country's communities.

Meanwhile, the NOB is also building up a substantial international reputation. The five CDs recorded with Walter Weller and released through Fuga Libera records, featuring music by Alexander Glazunov, Bohuslav Martinů, Richard Strauss, Josef Suk, and Johannes Brahms, received various awards. As well as numerous concert trips to Belgium's neighbouring countries, in recent years the orchestra has also toured in Japan, Spain, and Switzerland, to name but a few. On these occasions it chooses venues that would be particularly inspiring for the orchestra and the audience due to their exceptional acoustics, or their rich musical or historical past. These include the Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte Concert Hall in Luxemburg, the Gasteig in Munich, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Tonhalle in Zurich, the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid, and the Suntory Hall in Tokyo.

National Orchestra of Belgium
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