music and artistic director
Well known for the power, clarity, and depth of intellectual and emotional understanding of his interpretations, particularly of Mahler’s works, Jonathan Nott was invited in 2014 to conduct the musicians of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in a performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. The result of this very fruitful first meeting was his immediate appointment in January 2017 as Music and Artistic Director: a collaboration which has recently been renewed for an indefinite period beginning in September 2021.
This new perspective takes the acknowledged Genevan roots of the orchestra as international ambassadors – more recently Spain (2017), South America (2018) and Asia (2019) – and adds a new, combined mandate to bring classical music to all inhabitants of the region.
Wishing to strengthen the already close link between the OSR and the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Jonathan Nott has conducted a new production of Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia (2017) and recently a live-streaming production of Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande. Future projects include Strauss Elektra (2022) and two postponed productions due to the pandemic: Wagner Parsifal produced by Ulrich Rasche and Messiaen Saint François d’Assise produced by Adel Abdessemed.
He studied musical analysis and composition at the University of Cambridge as a choral scholar at St. John’s College; singing and flute at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester; conducting at the National Opera Studio in London. His conducting career began at the opera houses in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden, developing a repertoire spanning the whole gamut of theatrical styles: all the major works of the operatic repertoire (including Wagner’s complete Ring cycle), Sondheim, contemporary opera and ballet.
His passion for contemporary music spawned a close relationship with Ensemble Modern, and forged long-standing artistic and personal collaborations with composers of the ‘60s avant-garde, György Ligeti, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Helmut Lachenmann, Karlheinz Stockhausen as well as most of the composers of his own generation.
The year 1997 marked the beginning of a special relationship with Switzerland: in the five years as principal conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra he took an active part in the inaugural period of the new KKL, and 2007 saw the start of a major collaboration with the Lucerne Festival: conducting Boulez Répons with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, of which he was the Music Director from 2000 to 2003, « artiste étoile » in 2007, concert performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 2013, Verdi’s Falstaff in 2015 – the latter two both with the Bamberg Symphony, as well as one concert with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in 2018.
2022 will see a first collaboration with the Orchester der Lucerne Festival Alumni.
Fundamental in the sixteen years and over 670 concerts as Principal Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra from 2000 until 2016, was the goal of taking tradition and infusing it with as wide a range of music-making as possible. He created artist-in-residence programmes, led the orchestra each year on major international tours, fulfilled in 2005 a week-long residency at the Edinburgh Festival with five concerts in one week including Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, presented Boulez Pli selon Pli at the Berlin Musik Festwochen, received a Midem Award in 2010 for his recording of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, created a production of Haydn’s “L’isola disabitata” with the internationally-renowned German designer Peter Schmidt, and launched the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition conceived specifically to give personal support to the next generation of world-famous young conductors and conductresses. He makes his return to Bamberg in Autumn 2021.
«Take a risk! » was the quotation, inspired by Jonathan Nott, on the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-season fans’ T-shirt. Traditionally one of the most innovative of Japanese orchestras, Jonathan Nott has been their Music Director since 2012. After an initial contract of three years, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra announced that they had immediately extended his tenure for 10 years through the 2025-2026 season. During the 2020 pandemic, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra became the first orchestra to perform live with its Music Director via pre-recorded video. The year 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the orchestra.
Sharing knowledge and bringing inspiration to young artists has been a fundamental premise of his career. Jonathan Nott has fostered a long-term commitment to the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, where he has been Principal Conductor since 2014, and is also a regular guest conductor at the Gustav Mahler and Bavarian Youth Orchestras.
Jonathan Nott’s large catalogue of highly-acclaimed recordings includes Ligeti’s complete orchestra works with the Berlin Philharmonic, the entire Schubert and Mahler Symphonies with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra as part of his long-term SACD recording contract with the Swiss label TUDOR and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Jonas Kaufmann as soloist for SONY. His extensive catalogue of live recordings with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra for the Japanese label OCTAVIA includes Bruckner, Strauss and Beethoven.
Always an avid exponent of hi-tech recording, 2018 saw his first «multi-channel 9.1 Auro 3D» collaboration with PENTATONE and the OSR, mirroring the French, German and contemporary music history of the orchestra with works by Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss and György Ligeti. 2021 will see new recordings on the theme of Pelléas et Mélisande with works by Schoenberg and a new symphonic suite by Jonathan Nott of the Debussy opera, as well as a programme with pianist Francesco Piemontesi with works by Ravel, Schoenberg and Messiaen.
«Jonathan Nott, der neue Chefdirigent in Genf, wurde in seiner Zeit in Bamberg lange unterschätzt. Jetzt darf und kann er Dank diesem Lockdownstreaming der ganzen Welt vordirigieren, und er zeigt es großartig: zugreifend verträumt, treibend weltverloren, romantisch modern, klangsinnlich strukturalistisch. Nott kann solche Antagonismen leicht und selbstverständlich herstellen. Die braucht es für den Pelléas, und deshalb ist seine Lesart durchgehend magisch.»
Reinhard J. Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19.01.2021
"For me one of most essential things about live concerts is that no performance is ever the same and nor can it ever be repeated. I am a musician because I want to share, I want to communicate, and I want to celebrate the extraordinary power of music to bring people together. A concert with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is something that we experience collectively, but that we each sense individually inside of ourselves.
Each participant in this amazing communication without words will react with their own unique emotions, and it is this that creates a unique atmosphere at every concert. The OSR stands for openness, creativity and excellence, and I welcome each and every one of you: from inquisitive newcomer to seasoned listener, to participate and create as many of these musical experiences as you can fit into your diary! Be very careful: you might get completely hooked!
Join us for another year of unforgettable musical adventures: the magic of music is all about bringing us together!"
Jonathan Nott, Music and Artistic Director, March 2021
Photo credits: Claude Bornand, Philippe Christin, Barbara Luisi, Simon van Boxtel
Symphony No.3 in F major op. 90
Recorded on 17 May 2018 at Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Cerrito 628
Symphony N° 4 in E minor op.98
Recorded on 22 March 2017 at Victoria Hall, Geneva
Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony N°9 with choir for the finale of « Ode to Joy»
Recorded on 11 June 2020 at Victoria Hall, Geneva