Orpheum, a different kind of foundation
The Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists is different from its peers. It does not just offer yet another competition for young, talented musicians. Instead, for the past thirty years, it has been fostering musical encounters on the highest level, in which exceptional young soloists are given the opportunity to perform with renowned orchestras under the baton of major conductors. The Orpheum Concerts offer a unique artistic experience to these soloists, and often provide the decisive impetus for their career. In recent years, this core idea of the Orpheum Foundation has been developed and expanded by further concert formats and a CD series.
The Orpheum Foundation’s advancement model is unique in the world, and complements the activities of other institutions that award prizes and scholarships. Orpheum helps up-and-coming soloists to build up their artistic career.
The idea behind the Orpheum concept
What are young musicians supposed to do when they’ve finished their conservatory studies successfully? When they’ve gained additional interpretive experience from masterclasses with the great exponents of their instrument? And when they’ve proven their competitiveness by getting a good ranking at those competitions that provide an initial push onto the international concert scene? Their next step has to be to try and procure top-quality engagements that can have a lasting impact. Because the best basis for the career of an up-and-coming young soloist is to give a successful concert that impresses not just the audience, but also the media, event organisers, orchestras and conductors alike.
This is where the Orpheum Foundation comes in. It selects soloists who have the chance of an international breakthrough, and offers them a platform to demonstrate what they can really do, accompanied by a first-class orchestra under the baton of a leading conductor.
The Orpheum Foundation was set up by Hans Heinrich Coninx in 1990. In an interview with the arts magazine DU, he recalled the events of that year: “I realised that the career of aspiring artists cannot be driven by financial help alone. It can guarantee them further studies, but they still lack the necessary attention. In order to be successful, young soloists have to be given the opportunity to work with exceptional conductors and orchestras, and to prove themselves in performances before a big audience. This can give them a unique impetus and provide the special circumstances under which they can become aware of the public aspects of embarking on a major career”.
Hans Heinrich Coninx also had the idea of setting up an Artistic Board of Trustees: “This idea has increasingly proven to be the distinguishing feature of our advancement model. The members of our Artistic Board regularly propose young, talented musicians to us – there is no Orpheum competition. Don’t forget: when experienced conductors recommend talented young musicians to us, they have already measured them up in an overarching, intuitive fashion. Many different aspects have flowed into their assessment that might not be discernible in a one-off audition”.
Besides these recommendations, Orpheum also receives many applications. Young, talented musicians and their agents often use the online option for submitting their necessary details. Howard Griffiths, the Artistic Director of the Orpheum Foundation, is responsible for making the definitive selection of soloists from the recommendations and applications received.
The Orpheum Foundation today has a diverse range of activities
At the heart of the Orpheum Foundation’s activities are its orchestral concerts in the Zurich Tonhalle, organised in collaboration with the resident Tonhalle Orchestra. Above and beyond this, international orchestras also perform as guests of the Foundation, such as the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, the Bamberg and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and the Camerata Salzburg. The Foundation has engaged conductors such as David Zinman, Christoph Eschenbach, Mariss Jansons, Armin and Philippe Jordan, Zubin Mehta, Sir Neville Marriner, Michael Sanderling and Marcello Viotti.
In recent years, the Orpheum Foundation has expanded its advancement concept to include recitals, as well as knowledge-sharing events including workshops in which renowned pianists such as Fazil Say and Maria João Pires work together with young soloists. The concert format “Young Soloists on Stage” was created in collaboration with the Concours Géza Anda, and established in the “Razzia” in Zurich, a former cinema that is a restaurant today. These events comprise a family concert and a festive evening concert. This enables young, up-and-coming soloists to get hands-on practical experience of the role of a music communicator, while the “Dîner Concert” offers a further variation on the Orpheum’s concept of its “advancement recitals”.
The Orpheum CD series is also new, offering young soloists their first studio experience and a presence on the international CD market. These productions have taken place in collaboration with Sony and the Bavarian Radio (with the Munich Chamber Orchestra) and ORF (with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra of Vienna).
The Orpheum Supporters Orchestra reflects the additional, social aspect behind the Orpheum advancement concept: this is a project orchestra that brings together personalities from the fields of business, politics, research, culture and science who play an orchestral instrument to a high level as a hobby. And at the same time, this orchestra helps to promote young talent.
These Orpheum activities are also complemented by company concerts and advisory and networking services for our selected soloists. To this end, the Orpheum Foundation engages in dialogue with companies, other funding institutions, concert organisers, agencies, intendants and producers.
Each year, four to eight young musicians are taken up into the Orpheum advancement programme.
The Orpheum Foundation has no vested interests because it is financed privately. Support from Orpheum’s partners is extremely important in this, and Orpheum is consciously intensifying its collaboration with other charitable foundations. In this context, Orpheum’s strategic partnership with the Müller-Möhl Foundation is worthy of special mention, for the latter’s social concerns – as expressed by its motto “talent knows no gender” – fits ideally with Orpheum’s advancement ethos, enabling them to come together for joint events.
Over 200 soloists have performed in almost 100 concerts organised up to now by the Orpheum Foundation. Our database on our homepage has all their details.
The Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists is set up in Zurich and recognised as a non-profit institution. Under the chairmanship of Dr Hans Heinrich Coninx, its project team begins to plan the first cycle of the Orpheum advancement programme; they are joined by experts from the realms of culture, business and tourism. Mischa Damev is appointed its Artistic Director.
The renowned spa resort Bad Ragaz hosts the Foundation’s first concert week, entitled “Orpheum Soloists in Concert”. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra is engaged as the festival orchestra, and performs under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach, Mariss Jansons and Armin Jordan. Besides the orchestral concerts, the programme features “presentation concerts” in which the young musicians present themselves to their audience in chamber music and in conversation with Sir Peter Ustinov and Rolf Liebermann. At the heart of the concert week there are six young soloists from five different countries, including two who would subsequently achieve international success: the cellists Truls Mørk from Norway and Xavier Phillips from France.
“Orpheum Soloists in Concert” moves to Zurich, where the Opera House plays host to the Foundation’s second cycle of concerts. The Orchestra of the Zurich Opera plays under Mariss Jansons and Georges Prêtre, the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra under Marcello Viotti, and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of the Moscow Radio under Vladimir Fedoseyev. The invitation to the Moscow orchestra marks the beginning of a friendship and collaboration that lasts for many years.
“Orpheum Soloists in Concert” takes place for the first-ever time in the Zurich Tonhalle, and also signifies the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.
The concert week is now given for the first time under the banner “International Orpheum Music Festival for the Advancement of Young Soloists”. The Orpheum Foundation also begins its collaboration with Swiss Radio DRS 2 (later Radio SRF 2 Culture).
The Foundation initiates a cooperation programme with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio and the Salzburg Easter Festival. At the invitation of Claudio Abbado, the Salzburg Easter Festival features chamber music concerts with Orpheum Soloists for several years.
Howard Griffiths is appointed the Artistic Director of the Orpheum Foundation. The first-ever “Orpheum Public Award for Mozart” is given.
The 6th International Orpheum Music Festival for the Advancement of Young Soloists takes place in both Zurich and Basel. In order to expand its reach to young composers, the Foundation appoints the 30-year-old English composer Edward Rushton as its “Composer in Residence”. Over the coming years, four more young composers will benefit from similar support.
The shifts in the design and emphasis of the Orpheum concert programmes are by now part and parcel of the Orpheum tradition. This year, the Foundation announces its support for young conductors with an “Orpheum Conductors’ Master Class” in collaboration with Colin Metters, David Zinman and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.
Under the banner “Juilliard@orpheum”, the Orpheum Stiftung brings together students from the Juilliard School in New York and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) for joint workshops and concerts, enabling them to gain interdisciplinary experience.
To complement its tried-and-tested advancement programme, the Orpheum Foundation offers its soloists a professional training in media and communication, made possible by a partnership with Bank Julius Bär.
The 25thanniversary of the Orpheum Foundation for the Advancement of Young Soloists. Seven soloists perform at four concerts, accompanied by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio under Vladimir Fedoseyev, by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Philippe Jordan, by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner, and by the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic under Kristjan Järvi. The violinist Nicolaj Znaider, a former Orpheum Soloist who has enjoyed worldwide success, performs on behalf of all the musicians whom the Foundation has supported in the previous 25 years.
The first-ever Orpheum CD is released in collaboration with Sony Classical, with works by Anton and Paul Wranitzky. The plan is to realise one recording every year, featuring two young soloists performing rarely heard works. The “Orpheum Supporters Orchestra” comes together for the first-ever time under the baton of Howard Griffiths. Oliver Schnyder and Fazil Say transfer the Orpheum advancement idea into the chamber-music repertoire with their “Förderrezitals” (“advancement recitals”).
The Orpheum Foundation launches a new collaboration with the Concours Géza Anda, with a family concert and a “dîner concert”.
Orpheum organises the first-ever joint event with the Müller-Möhl Foundation, thereby linking the traditional Orpheum advancement concept with the promotion of women. Orpheum has already shown its successful commitment to this idea, because over the whole period of its existence, almost 50% of the young musicians it has supported have been women.
David Zinman returns to the podium of the Tonhalle Orchestra for one more Orpheum Concert.
For the first-ever time, an orchestral concert was organised as a joint event with the Müller-Möhl Foundation, with the Tonhalle Orchestra playing under the direction of Kristiina Poska.
The festive concert of 7 November in celebration of the 30thanniversary of the Orpheum Foundation had to take place at the Druckerei in Baden on account of the pandemic. It was made available as a stream and was broadcast by Radio SRF 2 Culture. Oliver Schnyder partnered the two young string soloists at this “Advancement Recital” and is himself a former Orpheum Soloist. He has now become the youngest member of the Orpheum’s Artistic Board of Trustees, which is made up of prominent musicians.