Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra
The city of Cluj, heart of the important Romanian region of Transylvania, enjoys a diverse cultural tradition: its University dates from 1723 and music has been printed here as early as the sixteenth century. It is therefore no wonder that, in less than ten years after its establishment, the young orchestra became one of the top symphonic ensembles in Romania. The main figure to have made this possible was the orchestra’s first conductor, Maestro Antonin Ciolan. Fascinating personality, to which the Orchestra owes the brightness and maturity of their sound, Antonin Ciolan was also a professor at the Conservatories in Iaşi and Cluj, as well as founder of the Philharmonic Society of Bessarabia and Iaşi Philharmonic. He studied in Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig, under Arthur Nikisch and Hans von Bülow. He spent his entire career striving for excellence, an aim he passed on to his disciples: Petre Sbârcea, Emil Simon, Ervin Acel or Erich Bergel. It was a wonderful opportunity for the newly founded orchestra to benefit, in the first decade of its existence, from this great conductor’s experience and knowledge, artistic capacity, enthusiasm and devotion. Maestro Ciolan’s was taken further by two of his most accomplished disciples, conductors Emil Simon (principal conductor of the orchestra between 1960 and 2000) and Erich Bergel (principal conductor between 1966 and 1972, Honorary Music Director from 1994 to his death in May 1998). They brought their contributions to the growth and refinement of the orchestra and the expanding of the programmes towards late Romantic and twentieth-century music. Later, the position of principal conductors of the Philharmonic was held by Cristian Mandeal, Nicolae Moldoveanu and Mihail Agafiţa.
Erich Bergel, a name so closely linked to the destiny of the Philharmonic, began his career as a flute player of the Sibiu Philharmonic. Later he studied conducting, organ and composition at the Cluj Conservatory of Music and became chief conductor of the “Transylvania” Philharmonic. Because of the communist regime, he was forced to emigrate to Germany, where he was endorsed by Herbert von Karajan, deeply impressed by Bergel’s completion and orchestration of the last fugue of Bach’s Art of Fugue. Between 1971 and 1974 he was chief conductor of Nordwestdeutschen Philharmonie Herford and in 1989 he was appointed chief conductor of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. He toured all over the world, from Paris to Auckland, Los Angeles to Berlin, Vienna to Cape Town. From 1994 to his death, in 1998, Erich Bergel was Honorary Music Director of the “Transylvania” Philharmonic.
The position of principal conductor is currently held by Gabriel Bebeşelea. With over 120 recordings, mainly released by Electrecord, The Transylvania Philharmonic presents what is perhaps the largest discography among Romanian orchestras, featuring some of the finest artists of the country – the conductors Antonin Ciolan, Emil Simon, Erich Bergel, Cristian Mandeal and Mircea Cristescu, the pianists Valentin Gheorghiu and Dan Grigore, the violinists Ştefan Ruha and Mihaela Martin. It reflects the entire range of the orchestra’s wide repertory, from Baroque to contemporary music, including impressive series such as the complete Brahms and Bruckner symphonies, as well as works by Debussy, Ravel, Wagner, and Vivaldi.
celebrates his seventh year as Music Director of Opéra de Marseille in the 2019/20 season, as well as his first as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Known for his exhilarating and expressive performances in a wide range of music, he enjoys a major career spanning the US, Europe and Asia. As a champion of the music of Enescu, his interpretations are renowned for their faithfulness to the score: “Lawrence Foster seems to have been put on this planet to conduct Enescu’s music. He is clearly a true believer and he understands every technical nuance and every expressive twist and turn” The Telegraph.
He begins his tenure with the National Polish Radio Symphony at the prestigious Enescu Festival, performing music by Adrian Pop, Chopin and Lutosławski. During the season he conducts the complete Schumann symphonies, the piano concertos of Liszt, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette and a concert performance of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole. He takes part in Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year with the Third and Ninth symphonies, and conducts repertoire ranging from Vivaldi, Mozart and Mendelssohn to Tchaikovsky, Enescu and Bartók. He also conducts Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in a gala celebrating the 60th anniversary of Debüt im Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and Luzerner Sinfonieorchester in a Saint-Saëns Festival, featuring all the composer’s piano concertos.
Foster’s opera season opens at Opéra de Marseille with Die Zauberflöte. As a guest conductor he returns to Oper Frankfurt for Britten’s Peter Grimes and to Opéra de Monte-Carlo for Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. He has conducted in major opera houses around the world, with highlights including Troilus and Cressida at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, recorded for EMI, the first performance of Berg’s Lulu at Houston Opera, Enescu’s Oedipe at the Deutsche Oper, also recorded for EMI, and the opening performance of the newly created Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes in Verdi’s Otello.
Following his successful ten-year tenure as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, he now serves as its Conductor Laureate. He toured extensively with the Orchestra, and their discography together includes a number of recordings for Pentatone Classics, including highly acclaimed recordings of Verdi’s Otello and violin works by Bruch, Chausson and Korngold with Arabella Steinbacher. He has also held music directorships with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Houston Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre et Opéra National de Montpellier and the Aspen Festival Music School.
He has worked with orchestras including Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Copenhagen Phil, Helsinki Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic orchestras, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini of Parma, among others.
In addition to recordings with the Gulbenkian Orchestra, he has received praise for a number of recordings with Pentatone including the early symphonies of Schubert with the Copenhagen Philharmonic, Strauss’ Zigeunerbaron and Die Fledermaus with NDR Radiophilharmonic, and the Martinů Double Concertos.
Born in Los Angeles to Romanian parents, Foster served as Artistic Director of the Georg Enescu Festival from 1998 to 2001. In 2003 he was decorated by the Romanian President for services to Romanian Music.