Clarinetist, composer and conductor Jörg Widmann is one of the most versatile and intriguing artists of his generation. As Carnegie Hall’s 2019/20 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer Chair his work will be focused throughout the season. Further performances see him appear in all aspects as clarinetist, composer and conductor as artist in residence at WDR Sinfonieorchester, at Palau de la Música Barcelona and at Bergen International Festival.
Chamber music performances will see him in concerts with long-standing chamber music partners such as Andras Schiff, Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Tabea Zimmermann, Antoine Tamestit and the Hagen Quartet at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Salzburg Festival, Carnegie Hall New York and Wiener Konzerthaus amongst others.
Continuing his intense activities as a conductor, Jörg Widmann performs this season with the Ensemble Kanazawa, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden. In November 2019 he will lead the Irish Chamber Orchestra as their Principal Conductor on tour through the US and in concerts throughout Europe.
Widmann studied clarinet with Gerd Starke in Munich and Charles Neidich at the Juilliard School in New York. He performs regularly with renowned orchestras, such as Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Orchestra National de France, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He collaborates with conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach and Christoph von Dohnányi.
Widmann gave the world premiere of Mark Andre’s Clarinet Concerto über at the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2015. Other clarinet concerti dedicated to and written for him include Wolfgang Rihm’s Musik für Klarinette und Orchester (1999) and Aribert Reimann’s Cantus (2006).
Widmann studied composition with Kay Westermann, Wilfried Hiller and Wolfgang Rihm. His works continue to receive many awards such as the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Elise L. Stoeger Prize (2009), the Paul Hindemith Prize in 2001, the Arnold Schönberg Prize by the Vienna Arnold Schönberg Centre and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (2004) and both the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg’s composition award and the Berliner Philharmoniker Academy’s Claudio Abbado Composition Award in 2006.
Widmann’s compositions are performed regularly by conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Daniel Harding, Valery Gergiev, Kent Nagano, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons and Simon Rattle and premiered by orchestras such as the Wiener and Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra and many others.
Widmann’s appointment as Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow at the Cleveland Orchestra established an extraordinary artistic collaboration with the orchestra and its Principal Conductor Franz Welser-Möst including the world premiere of Widmann’s Flute Concerto, Flûte en suite in May 2011 followed by its European premiere in 2012/13 by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Emmanuel Pahud under Simon Rattle. Cleveland Orchestra featured Flûte en suite as centrepiece in their 2014 European tour, and dedicated an entire evening to Widmann’s works at the Berliner Philharmonie. His opera Babylon was premiered in 2012/13 at Bayerische Staatsoper under the baton of Kent Nagano.
Am Anfang by Anselm Kiefer and Jörg Widmann was premiered in July 2009 as part of the 20th anniversary of the Opéra Bastille, in which Widmann acted as composer, clarinetist and made his debut as conductor.
Widmann was Artist in Residence at leading Festivals and Orchestras such as Lucerne Festival and Salzburger Festspiele, Bamberger Symphoniker, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich’s creative chair 2015/16, and both BOZAR and Elbphilarmonie’s artist in residence in its opening season. He was featured in Artist Portraits at Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Frankfurt’s Alte Oper and Cologne’s Philharmonie. In the 2017/18 season he was featured as the first ever Gewandhaus Composer in Leipzig’s history.
Widmann isFellow at the Wissenschaftskollegs in Berlin and a full member of the Bayerischen Akademie of Schönen Künste, and since 2007, the Freien Akademie der Künste Hamburg, the Deutschen Akademie der Darstellenden Künste and the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz. He is professor for composition at the Barenboim-Said Academy, Berlin.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra
is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed orchestras, celebrated for its eclectic repertoire and its exhilarating playing style. Founded in 1970, the orchestra continues to innovate, offering a diverse range of concerts at home and abroad, collaborating with leading international artists, and pioneering community initiatives designed to deliver real change.
Over many years, it has thrived under a succession of outstanding artistic partners, including Fionnuala Hunt, Nicholas McGegan, Anthony Marwood and Gábor Tákacs-Nagy, supported by a board that has included such illustrious members as Mary Robinson and Dr Ed Walsh, founding president of UL. It was the passion of these forward-thinking leaders that has enabled the orchestra to grow throughout its history, and that same thirst for excellence drives it today.
In 1995, under the guidance of Dr Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Professor of Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, the ICO became orchestra-in-residence at the University of Limerick, forging a deep and lasting partnership with the university – and the city – that flourishes to this day. One of the orchestra’s long-cherished ambitions was to own its own studio and it was John Kelly, CEO of the Irish Chamber Orchestra from 1993 to 2012, who masterminded the fundraising and construction. Opened in 2008, the ICO Studio is a state-of-the-art recording and rehearsal space that provides the orchestra with a world-class home.
From its position at the heart of the cultural scene in Limerick, the ICO has long harboured the desire to play a transformative role in the lives of its people, and in 2008, with the help of seed funding from the university, the orchestra launched Sing Out with Strings, a groundbreaking initiative that offers free tuition to 300 primary school children in Limerick every year. Supported by many generous patrons, Sing Out with Strings has been wildly successful, with many of the children involved going on to join the new Irish Chamber Orchestra Youth Orchestra. The orchestra has also forged a partnership with the University of Limerick’s MA in Classical String Performance, offering an inspiring series of classes to its talented students.
In 2002, violinist Katherine Hunka was appointed Leader of the ICO and her rapport with the orchestra, together with her programming expertise, has been instrumental in developing the ICO’s appeal across Ireland. Thanks to funding from Culture Ireland, the orchestra regularly tours overseas, and it was in Berlin in 2007 that the ICO first performed with Jörg Widmann, the clarinettist, composer and conductor whose energy and verve have been central to the orchestra’s recent success.
As Principal Conductor/Artistic Partner, Widmann works closely with the Artistic Committee, devising diverse and innovative programmes that mix standard repertoire with new work – often specially commissioned – from the best young Irish composers. This dynamic approach to programming has opened up new opportunities for the orchestra to work with leading artists, venues and festivals across Europe and beyond.
The support of the board is crucial to the orchestra’s success. From 2008 to 2017 it was chaired by Michael Buckley, former CEO of AIB, whose business acumen and fundraising expertise enabled the ICO to successfully negotiate the turbulent waters of the recession. Today Aibhlín McCrann chairs a board whose passion and commitment inspires the orchestra to reach new heights.