Wednesday 27 January, 2021

The Basque National Orchestra carries on, despite the obstacles

The Basque National Orchestra carries on, despite the obstacles

The Basque National Orchestra is tackling the second part of the concert season and is committed to carrying on and staying connected with its audience, despite the immense organisational effort involved.

The schedule through to June has been redesigned to adapt to new times, programmes and circumstances. Rather than the standard 50 concerts, this season will have a total of 100 to ensure all season ticket holders and the general public can attend. Tickets are still available for some performances. 

Since the concert season got under way in September, the Basque National Orchestra has had to accommodate the strict measures dictated by the authorities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Among said measures, occupancy of its concert halls is currently limited to 400 people. The Basque National Orchestra has decided – with great effort involved – to increase the number of concert sessions from 5 to 12 so that its season ticket holders and followers can attend. It has also had to redesign some of its programmes. This has of course affected season ticket holders — with each new restriction on occupancy, times or movement between municipalities, they have had to reorganise themselves.

In the words of the orchestra's General Manager, Oriol Roch, “The result of this complex organisational labour is a highly ambitious path embarked upon by the Basque National Orchestra, rooted in its overarching commitment to the audience. Coupled to this is the orchestra’s conviction that it constitutes a great cultural asset and a driver of the society to which it owes its existence. The orchestra will, of course, continue its efforts. It’s worth it”.

Likewise, Robert Trevino says “Like any member of society, our shared purpose is to support and care for one another. The Basque National Orchestra has drawn on this concept of support to continue navigating the pandemic at the service of our society. Our goal is to stretch our bodies, our emotions and the very institution itself beyond limits bring music to people’s hearts and offer us a shared community experience. We have taken all manner of actions to make this possible – repeating programmes, rebroadcasting all our concerts on EITB, uploading these videos to YouTube, etc. – all so that every individual can experience the orchestra however they can”.

The programme for the coming months through to June sticks to some of the original plans while others have been modified. Among those plans going ahead are the debuts of three orchestral conductors (Ruth Reinhardt, Gemma New and Anja Bihlmaier), the premiere of the second work in the Elkano: Mundubira musika bidelagun project, titled My Marine Monsters, by Mikel Urquiza (Bilbao), and appearances by important soloists such as Vadim Gluzman on violin and Nikolai Lugansky on piano. The programme modifications include the unfortunate withdrawal of two choirs (Easo Abesbatza and Orfeón Pamplonés) from two programmes and of a selection of symphonies requiring a large ensemble. These measures have been taken to ensure that the safety distances currently required by law are maintained on the stage. Among the most exciting news is that the orchestra will be joined by a new soloist, Augustin Hadelich (scheduled for last season’s programme), and by pianist Judith Jáuregui and conductor Semyon Bychkov. Augustin Hadelich will not perform in Pamplona due to scheduling conflicts, while Judith Jáuregui and Semyon Bychkov will perform solely in the Navarran capital to make up for concerts cancelled in the city in Autumn. The biggest change in the concert pieces concerns the programme dedicated to Mahler, whose Symphony No.7, ‘Song of the Night’ will be substituted by symphonies 5 and 6 by Bruckner. By removing some works from the programme, we can accommodate others requiring smaller ensembles or which are of shorter duration, to ensure we comply with the restrictions.

The orchestra is striving to bring a quality programme to as many people as possible under the current circumstances. The Basque National Orchestra asks its audience for patience and understanding in the midst of the ongoing changes mandated by the restrictions in force at any given time, and which directly impact its concerts.


Current concert times:

  • Donostia-San Sebastián and Vitoria: 17:30 and 19:30.
  • Bilbao: 17:00 and 19:30.
  • Pamplona: 18:00 and 20:15.



Concert season programme through to June



Each city will enjoy a different combination of pieces. Back on the programme is Elkano: Mundubira musika bidelagun and the premiere of My Marine Monsters by Mikel Urquiza from Bilbao. Grammy winner Augustin Hadelich makes his debut with the orchestra (San Sebastián, Bilbao and Vitoria) with the well-known and beautiful Violin Concerto by Sibelius. Pamplona will hear pieces by Smetana and Brahms in lieu of the Sibelius concerto. All the performances will close with Dvořák's Symphony No. 5. The orchestra will be led for the first time by the young German conductor Ruth Reinhardt.


ENIGMATIKOA (Pamplona only):

Judith Jáuregui, pianist from Donostia-San Sebastián, and Jaume Santonja, Associate Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra, have put together a new programme to substitute one of the concerts cancelled in Pamplona. The pianist will perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.1, while the second part of the concert will be dedicated to Schumann's Symphony No.2.


MAHLER (Pamplona only):

Semyon Bychkov will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No.4 in Pamplona on 5th March. The conductor made his debut with the orchestra in the last edition of Musical Fortnight and now returns to Miramón. The work he is preparing with the orchestra will also be performed on 6th March at the Musika-Música festival in the Euskalduna Palace, Bilbao. Serena Saenz will perform soprano.



Gemma New picks up the baton in this programme. The great Vadim Gluzman will perform solo violin in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.2 before the orchestra tackles Schumann's Symphony No.3, ‘Rhenish’.


WAGNER (Pamplona only):

This programme was performed in November in Vitoria, San Sebastián and Bilbao and now comes to Pamplona, this time conducted by Jaume Santonja, Associate Conductor of the Basque National Orchestra. The orchestra will once again be joined by the mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham.



Robert Trevino returns to the podium to lead symphonies 5 and 6 by Bruckner.



This programme features veteran conductor Hans Graf and Birgit Kolar, guest first violinist who makes her soloist debut with a performance of Bartok's Violin Concerto No.1.



Anja Bihlmaier is the third conductor to debut with the orchestra this season. She is joined by Manuel Walser, who will sing Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. Walser has been one of Vienna State Opera’s brightest stars in recent years.



The final programme of the season will feature Rachmaninoff and his Rhapsody on the Theme of Paganini. The score requires an extraordinarily gifted pianist. Trevino has invited the great Russian virtuoso Nikolai Lugansky to take on the challenge, given his depth of knowledge of Rachmaninoff's music.



Season tickets and ticket sales


Ticket sales are subject to the restrictions in force at any given time. Sales will open shortly before each concert date.  Due to the current circumstances, new season tickets are unfortunately not available. However, applications may be submitted for the next season.



Other orchestral activities


The Miramón Matinees cycle is going ahead with the 16 scheduled chamber music performances. Seats will be available to season ticket holders only and no further tickets will be sold while the occupancy restrictions remain in place.

The orchestra has made various commitments for the coming months with other cultural institutions. It will feature at Musika/Música in Bilbao (planned for early March), conducted by Semyon Bychkov, and at the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards in mid-June. The two ABAO Bilbao Opera programmes in which the orchestra was due to participate have been cancelled, as has the Musikaste festival in Errenteria.

Next events

Concerts & Tickets May

1 Sa
2 Su
3 Mo
4 Tu
5 We
6 Th
7 Fr
8 Sa
9 Su
10 Mo
10 may, 2021 Monday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Youth Hans Graf Vitoria/Gasteiz
11 Tu
12 We
13 Th
14 Fr
15 Sa
16 Su
17 Mo
18 Tu
19 We
20 Th
20 may, 2021 Thursday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Wayfarer Anja Bihlmaier Donostia / San Sebastián Buy tickets
21 Fr
21 may, 2021 Friday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Wayfarer Anja Bihlmaier Donostia / San Sebastián Buy tickets
22 Sa
22 may, 2021 Saturday, 11:00 h.
Miramon Matinées Matinée 15: Suhar Korua Esteban Urzelai Donostia / San Sebastián
Matinée 15: Suhar Korua
23 Su
24 Mo
24 may, 2021 Monday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Wayfarer Anja Bihlmaier Bilbao/Bilbo Buy tickets
25 Tu
25 may, 2021 Tuesday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Wayfarer Anja Bihlmaier Pamplona/Iruña Buy tickets
26 We
26 may, 2021 Wednesday, 19:30 h.
Season concerts Wayfarer Anja Bihlmaier Vitoria/Gasteiz Buy tickets
27 Th
28 Fr
29 Sa
29 may, 2021 Saturday, 18:00 h.
Music Room Living Room Music Donostia / San Sebastián Buy tickets
Living Room Music
30 Su
31 Mo