Through its concert-series as well as its partnership with the largest concert halls and festivals in the region, the WDR Symphony Orchestra sets the scene for music production in North-Rhine Westphalia. Worldwide tours and award-winning CD productions strengthen its international reputation as a primary representative of the German orchestral scene. With multifaceted projects, the ensemble likewise provides an important contribution to cultural education. In the 2017/18 season, the WDR Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 70th birthday. After its founding in 1947, it worked with a range of prominent conductors until Christoph von Dohnanyi took on the role of chief conductor in 1964. The ensemble´s development into an internationally renowned institution accelerated during the tenure of Gary Bertini and later through its collaboration with Semyon Bychkov, who became chief conductor from 1997 until 2010. In 2010-2019, Jukka-Pekka Saraste took over the reins. Since the 2019/20 season, it is the turn of Romanian Cristian Măcelaru, who has dedicated himself with passion to music for the widest possible audience, incorporating innovative concert forms and digital music projects in the process. Since September 2020 he is also musical director of the Orchestre National de France.
Krzysztof Urbański, conductor
In September 2020, Krzysztof Urbański entered the tenth season of his tenure as Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra in 2015, and he has led the orchestra in Hamburg and on tour in Japan and Europe. With the orchestra he recorded albums of Lutosławski’s works, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, all on Alpha Classics. His discography also includes Chopin’s small pieces for piano and orchestra with Jan Lisiecki and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon which received an ECHO Klassik Award and Martinů’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with Sol Gabetta and the Berlin Philharmonic recorded for Sony. With Sinfonia Varsovia he recorded Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima on the Accentus label.
Mr. Urbański maintains an international presence by appearing as guest conductor for numerous orchestras around the world, including the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Dresden Philharmonic, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Vienna Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Mr. Urbański served as chief conductor and artistic leader of the Trondheim Symphony from 2010 to 2017; in 2017 he was appointed Honorary Guest Conductor of the Trondheim Symphony and Opera. He also served as principal guest conductor of Tokyo Symphony for four seasons beginning in 2012.
In June 2015 Krzysztof Urbański received the Leonard Bernstein Award at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, becoming the ﬁrst conductor to have ever received this award.
Kian Soltani, cello
Hailed by The Times as a “remarkable cellist” and described by Gramophone as “sheer perfection”, Kian Soltani’s playing is characterised by a depth of expression, sense of individuality and technical mastery, alongside a charismatic stage presence and ability to create an immediate emotional connection with his audience. He is now invited by the world’s leading orchestras, conductors and recital promoters, propelling him from rising star to one of the most talked about cellists performing today.
In 2020/21 Soltani has been invited to make debuts with orchestras including the Munich Philharmonic, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore, Soltani will embark on extensive orchestral touring including with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim, Bolshoi Orchestra and Tugan Sokhiev, ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop, Orchestre Philharmonique de la Radio France and Myung-whun Chung and the Tonhalle Orchestra with Paavo Järvi. Recent orchestral highlights include the Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Berlin Staatskapelle, NCPAO, Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. Soltani commences a multi-year residency with Junge Wilde at Konzerthaus Dortmund from Autumn 2018.
As a recitalist, Soltani has recently performed at Carnegie Hall, Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, Wigmore Hall and the Boulez Saal, where he will return to curate an evening of cello music in April 2021. In January 2021, Soltani will perform Beethoven trios on tour with Daniel and Michael Barenboim at venues including Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein, London Southbank Centre and Munich Philharmonie im Gasteig.
In 2017, Soltani signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon and his first disc ‘Home’, comprising works for cello and piano by Schubert, Schumann and Reza Vali, was released to international acclaim in February 2018, with Gramophone describing the recording as “sublime”. His recording of the Mozart Piano Quartets with Daniel and Michael Barenboim and Yulia Deyneka was released in August 2018. In April 2019, Warner Classics released a disc of the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky Piano Trios with Lahav Shani and Renaud Capucon, recorded live at Aix Easter Festival in 2018. Soltani’s latest disc for Deutsche Grammophon was released in August 2020 and features Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim, amongst other works arranged by Soltani for solo and cello ensemble.
Soltani attracted worldwide attention in April 2013 as winner of the International Paulo Cello Competition in Helsinki where he was hailed by Ostinato magazine as “a soloist of the highest level among the new generation of cellists”. In February 2017 Soltani won Germany’s celebrated Leonard Bernstein Award and in December 2017, he was awarded the prestigious Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.
Born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1992 to a family of Persian musicians, Soltani began playing the cello at age four and was only twelve when he joined Ivan Monighetti’s class at the Basel Music Academy. He was chosen as an Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation scholarship holder in 2014, and completed his further studies as a member of the Young Soloist Programme at Germany’s Kronberg Academy. He received additional important musical training at the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein.
Kian Soltani plays ” The London, ex Boccherini” Antonio Stradivari cello, kindly loaned to him by a generous sponsor through the Beares International Violin Society.
European Booking Period: May 16 – 22, 2022