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THE ‘GEORGE ENESCU’ PHILHARMONIC CHOIR AT ITS 60TH ANNIVERSARY

The conductor and pianist Iosif Prunner has been leading the GEORGE ENESCU Philharmonic Choir since December 1986. For a start, I asked him to outline in just a few but essential words, the history of this assembly.

The Philharmonic Choir was started on the 1st of December 1950, on the initiative of the great conductor Constantin Silvestri, the director of the institution at that time. A professional assembly of great dimensions was missing from the musical life of Bucharest, one which would continue the tradition of the ‘Carmen’ Choir and which would perform at the same time, along with the Philharmonic Symphonic orchestra, at a professional level, the vocal and vocal-symphonic masterpieces of both Romanian and universal classical and contemporary music. During the following 60 years, hundreds of works in the genre repertoire were presented, under the baton of some great Romanian conductors, starting with George Georgescu and Constantin Silvestri and ending with Cristian Mandeal and Horia Andreescu, but also of some remarcable guests such as Igor Markevitch, George Prêtre, Lawrence Foster, Sergiu Comissiona, Ion Marin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michel Plasson, Sergiu Celibidache …

In the history of the Philharmonic Choir there are thousands of recording minutes (Radio, records, TV and CDs), tours in the most important European musical centres, the collaboration with great orchestras, among which can be mentioned the Bolshoi Orchestra, München Philharmonic, The French National Orchestra, The National Orchestra of Catalonia, ‘Arturo Toscanini’ Orchestra, The Warsaw Festival Orchestra etc.

What are the most important successes of the Philharmonic Choir during these six decades of uninterrupted concert activity?

Hundreds of Romanian works were presented on their first audition, starting from ‘Tudor Vladimirescu Oratory’ by Gh. Dumitrescu – with George Georgescu at the music stand, and ending with Stefan Niculescu’s ‘Requiem’ under the baton of H. Andreescu. There were unforgettable moments like ‘Missa solemnis’ by Beethoven with Constantin Silvestri, which can be found on an Electrecord record, the full recording of Enescu’s choir works with Cristian Mandeal, which can be found on a CD. Together with the Choir and the Philharmonic Symphonic Orchestra, we were also happy to offer the Bucharest audience the first audition of Das Klagende Lied by Mahler, Te Deum by Bruckner, motets by Bruckner, Bach, Brahms … I would also like to remind you the first audition introduction in Romania of some of the 20th century landmark works: ‘The Seven Gates of Jerusalem’ by Penderecki, with the author at the music stand, ‘The Psalm Symphony’ by Stravinski, ‘The third Symphony’ and ‘Missa’ by  Bernstein. Another unforgettable moment was carrying out Enescu’s ‘Oedipus’ in collaboration with L Foster and The French National Orchestra. It was a premiere for the Philharmonic Orchestra. And of course, there would be a lot more to mention – we are talking about a 60-year rich activity!

GEORGE ENESCU Philharmonic placed the entire season 2010-2011 under the sign of the Choir anniversary.

Yes, and we are very happy about this fine gesture. We have tried to mark these last 60 years by means of events, artists and masterpieces, firts auditions for us and the audience, serving music and its friends whom we have invited to the Athenaeum to listen to, among others: ‘The Third Symphony’ by Mahler, ‘Stabat Mater’ by Dvořák, ‘The Christmas Oratory’ by Paul Constantinescu, Simphony ‘Faustus’ by Liszt, ‘Missa in F’ by Bruckner, Simfony no 9′ by Beethoven, Schumann’s ‘Requiem’, Brahms’ ‘Requiem’, Verdi’s ‘Requiem’, ‘The Great Missa’ by Bruckner, ‘Via Crucis’ by Liszt, Bach and Bruckner’s complete motets.

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