March 2019 marks a milestone in the rich history of Brussels Philharmonic. 84 years after it's founding, the orchestra went on tour to North America and made it's debut at Carnegie Hall.
March 2019 marks a milestone in the rich history of Brussels Philharmonic. 84 years after it's founding, the orchestra went on tour to North America. The winning formula of the orchestra and music director Stéphane Denève – a mix of 21st century music, French composers and a world class soloist – was warmly welcomed by audience and press alike. Not only did the concerts in Ottawa, Florida and New York showcase Belgium, they also brought together the local Belgian communities. Keystone and absolute highlight was the Brussels Philharmonic New York debut at the legendary Carnegie Hall, where the orchestra was treated to a standing ovation.
On March 16 2019, Brussels Philharmonic performed in the great Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage in Carnegie Hall, New York. The orchestra follows in the footsteps of a line of illustrious predecessors of Belgian artists performing in this iconic venue, such as Jacques Brel, Toots Thielemans and José Van Dam. “It has been an overwhelming experience. We have performed at many iconic locations, but there is nothing like Carnegie Hall, New York," told intendant Gunther Broucke to Belgian news broadcaster VRT. Brussels Philharmonic is the first Belgian symphonic orchestra in 30 years to perform at the famous stage, and was treated to the standing ovation by the audience, which consisted of a striking amount of Belgians. Among them Belgian Ambassador to the United States Dirk Wouters: "Brussels Philharmonic has put Belgium on the map with an extraordinary performance in the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City."
In Florida the orchestra played three concert halls. Brussels Philharmonic, Stéphane Denève and Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider convinced the audience with “lively, sensitive and tonally rich performances" (South Florida Classical Review), “exceptional playing" (Palm Beach Daily News) and Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane was called “a rare treat to hear it performed by an orchestra that seems to know it well" (Palm Beach Daily News). Icing on the cake was the “rousing" (Palm Beach Artspaper) encore Farandole by Bizet.
At the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the orchestra surprised the listeners with a “hybrid of French effervescence and German weight" (Artsfile). After the concert, Brussels Philharmonic was treated to a surpise gift: Belgian Ambassador Johan Verkammen came on stage to thank the musicians with a lifelike violin, made entirely out of 6 kilograms of Belgian chocolate by the Brussels trained chocolatier and Callebaut chef Philippe Vancayseele.
The tour was kicked off with pop up concert 'in the air' during the flight from Belgium to Canada. Together with Brussels Airlines, with whom the orchestra recently announced a partnership, several musicians surprised the passengers with a New York-medley. The video of the pop up has garnered more than 100.000 views on Facebook.