From the start of the 2009/10 season Lawrence Foster will become Music Director of Orchestre et Opéra National de Montpellier. He also begins his eighth season as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra.
Recent highlights as a guest conductor have included a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle with Orchestre National de Lyon and Radu Lupu, a tour of Spain with Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, and the continuation of the Enescu symphony cycle with NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover. This season he conducts the Gewandhausorchester (with Lisa Batiashvili as soloist), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, and will appear at the Grafenegg Festival in July 2010. He will also conduct both Chopin concertos with Daniel Barenboim as soloist with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo. Further ahead, other engagements include NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Residentie Orkest (with Aldo Ciccolini), Tivoli Symphony Orchestra (with Evgeny Kissin), plus the closing concerts of MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig’s 2010/11 season. After the success of his recent Schumann symphony cycle with the Czech Philharmonic (recorded for Pentatone), he will also return to the orchestra in spring 2011.
Lawrence Foster has worked with a number of major youth orchestras. In summer 2004 he brought the Australian Youth Orchestra to the BBC Proms and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and took the orchestra on tour in July 2007. He toured with Junge Deutsche Philharmonie over easter 2009, and also conducted the Academy Orchestra at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in August 2009. He previously served as Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School and returned to the festival in summer 2009 to celebrate its 60th year.
As an opera conductor, Lawrence Foster has appeared in major houses throughout the world. Last season he led a production of Reyer’s Salammbo with Opéra de Marseille and returned to Staatsoper Hamburg for a revival of Pélléas et Mélisande. This season he will return to Staatsoper Hamburg for a production of Weber’s Der Freischütz, followed by a revival of Carmen in 2010/11. In spring 2011 he will return to Opéra de Marseille for a production of Wozzeck and will also conduct the world premiere of a new opera by René Koering with Opéra de Monte Carlo. Other recent highlights have included his debut in 2006 at the Bregenz Festival with the first completed version of Debussy’s unfinished opera The Fall of the House of Usher (completed by Robert Orledge), a production of Roussel’s Padmavati at the Théâtre du Châtelet with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and his debut with Leipzig Oper in a production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. He also conducted a performance of Louise Bertin’s Esmeralda at the 2008 Montpellier Festival, a live recording of which has been released on CD.
With the Gulbenkian Orchestra Lawrence Foster presents at least one opera-in-concert in Lisbon per season and in 2010 this will be Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. As Music Director of Orchestre et Opéra National de Montpellier he will lead a production of Die Zauberflöte in both Montpellier and Paris in autumn 2009 as well as performances of Otello in spring 2010.
Born in 1941 in Los Angeles to Romanian parents, Lawrence Foster has been a major champion of the music of Georg Enescu, serving as Artistic Director of the Georg Enescu Festival from 1998 to 2001. His latest Enescu recording - his own orchestration of the String Octet with Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo for EMI - was released in spring 2009.
Lawrence Foster has previously held Music Directorships with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Chamber de Lausanne.
In January 2003 he was decorated by the Romanian President for services to Romanian Music.
It was back in 1962 that the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation decided to establish a permanent orchestral body, which initially consisted of only twelve pieces (chords and continuo group), originally designated as Gulbenkian Chamber Orchestra. This collective was successively enlarged up to the point where today the Orquestra Gulbenkian (the name it has adopted since 1971) counts upon a permanent body of sixty six instrumentalists which can be expanded here and there in accordance with the needs of the programmes at hand.
This structure allows Orquestra Gulbenkian to interpret a wide repertoire which spans all of the Classical period, a significant part of 19th century orchestral literature and much of the music of the 20th century. Works belonging to the current repertoire of the grand traditional symphonic orchestras, namely Haydn’s, Mozart’s, Beethoven’s, Schubert’s, Mendelssohn’s or Schumann’s orchestral productions, can thus be delivered by Orquestra Gulbenkian in versions that are closer to the orchestrations they originally were conceived for as far as the balance of their internal sonic architecture is concerned. In each season the Orchestra executes a regular series of concerts at the Grande Auditório Gulbenkian in Lisbon. There it has had the opportunity of working together with some of the biggest names in the world of music (conductors and soloists). It has also performed on numerous locations all over Portugal, which has allowed it to contribute to decentralizing culture.
The Orchestra has been gradually expanding his activities in the international level, performing in Europe, Asia Africa and the Americas. More recently the Gulbenkian Orchestra made another appearance in the Enescu Festival (13 September 2011) and visited Armenia for the first time, giving two concerts in Yerevan (15 and 16 September 2011), in both cases under the direction of Maestro Lawrence Foster. New tours are in preparation for 2013, namely in Austria (March), germany (July) and China (October).
In the recording level, the name of the Gulbenkian Orchestra is associated to labels as Philips, Deutsche Grammophon , Hyperion, Teldec, Erato , Adès, Nimbus, Lyrinx, Naïve and Pentatone, among others, and this activity has been recognized with several prestigious international prizes.
Between the most recent discographic projects should be mentioned the first world recording of Salieri’s Requiem, a recording with works by Ligeti, Kodály and Bartók, and a new collaboration with the pianist Sa Chen released in 2012, all of them under the direction of Maestro Lawrence Foster and for Pentatone. The Gulbenkian Orchestra recorded a CD dedicated to the young public – Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals and Britten’s Guide to the Orchestra -, under the direction of Joana Carneiro, released in 2011. Currently in preparation are three CD’s featuring soloists from the Gulbenkian Orchestra, under the direction of Lawrence Foster, Joana Carneiro and Pedro Neves, edition which will be part of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of this ensemble that will be celebrated throughout the 2012-2013 season with several initiatives.
Lawrence Foster is responsible for the artistic direction of the ensemble since the season 2002/2003, of which he is also Principal Conductor. Claudio Scimone, which occupied this position between 1979 and 1986, was nominated in 1987 its Honorary Conductor. Joana Carneiro holds the position of Guest Conductor of the Orchestra since the season 2006/2007. Paul McCreesh has just been appointed Principal Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra beginning in 2013/2014.