A festive and elegant audience filled Geneva’s venerable Victoria Hall on 30 November to hear the hometown Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) in a gala programme marking its centenary.
The OSR gave its first concert in the same venue exactly 100 years before, under its founding conductor, Ernest Ansermet, who led the ensemble for almost half of that century.
On the anniversary evening, available to EBU radio organizations as a Premium Concert (EURO/2018-2019/PC2/012), the current OSR Music and Artistic Director Jonathan Nott was at the helm in a programme showcasing excerpts from Tchaikovsky operas in the first half.
The young Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian, stepping in at the last minute to replace the ailing Sonya Yoncheva, thrilled concertgoers with a faultless interpretation of the famous Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. After the interval, the musicians gave rousing renditions of Mussorgsky’s Night on the Bare Mountain and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite No. 2, premiered by the OSR in 1919.
The anniversary concert was only one of over a dozen given by the musicians in a week-long marathon in Geneva and Lausanne. The programmes looked both back (Bartók, Honegger and Beethoven) and ahead, with premieres by Ammann and Macmillan (available in MUSNew as SM/2018/09/10/08-09).
Host broadcaster RTS, the decades-long radio partner of the OSR, provided wide coverage of the anniversary week, including the live broadcast of three concerts as well as a special series with a wealth of historic recordings from its archives.
RTS TV2 offered viewers a special evening on 3 December, while France Musique devoted an entire day (27 November) to the OSR in addition to its concert transmissions.