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Enescu Festival 2017 – innovation in classical music

The 2017 edition of George Enescu International Festival (September 2-24, Bucharest, Romania) brings new elements with several premieres: classical music meets technology in three operas with live multimedia projections, contemporary music becomes the star of the edition and 30 of the highest-rated contemporary composers of the world will come to Bucharest for an unprecedented dialogue between the public and important Romanian and foreign artists, and the relationship between mathematics and music is presented in an exhibition organised for the first time in Romania.

The 2017 edition of the George Enescu International Festival has a new first-class international artistic directing team – Zubin Mehta, Honorary President and Vladimir Jurowski, Artistic Director, and it takes place between September 2-24 in Bucharest and seven other cities in the country, challenging the audience to experience new manners of artistic expression and to rediscover classical music in a new light.

Three concert operas with live multimedia projections, the highest number of works by George Enescu ever performed in the Festival – 37, promoting contemporary music at an international level that allows an intercultural dialogue between important Romanian and foreign artists, tuning classical music to mathematics – these are the main innovations brought by the 2017 edition of the Enescu Festival.


81 years after its French premiere, 59 years after its Romanian premiere and 136 years after George Enescu was born, Enescu Festival begins on September 2 with the opera Œdipe by George Enescu, in a concert version with London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski, with live multimedia projections created by the director Carmen Lidia Vidu – at a symbolic time. Two other operas of the Festival will have live multimedia projections: Mathis der Maler by Hindemith, conducted by Lawrence Foster at the helm of the National Radio Orchestra and the Radio Academic Choir (September 13), with multimedia projections designed by Carmen Lidia Vidu. Another renowned ensemble, the “George Enescu” Choir and Philharmonic Orchestra, will be conducted by John Nelson for the premiere of “The Damnation of Faust” by Berlioz, with multimedia projection designed by the Romanian-born director (September 20).


The 2017 edition of the Enescu Festival has an absolute novelty in the history of the festival – the series of concerts “21st Century Music”, which will take place at the Radio Hall and bring together Romanian and foreign artists performing iconic contemporary compositions. Some of the composers of the works – stars of today’s contemporary music – will be present in the concert hall or perform their own compositions as soloists. 30 of the most influential composers of the world will meet at the Bucharest National University of Music, in dialogue with great Romanian and foreign artists, over several weekends (September 2-24), in an event organised for the very first time: the International Composers’ Forum. An absolute premiere will be the presence of remarkable contemporary composers in Bucharest, including Sir James MacMillan, Iain Bell Nimrod Borenstein, Sven Helbig, Zygmund Krauze, Rolf Martinsson, Magnus Lindberg, Helmut Lachenmann, Thomas Larcher, Elliot Goldenthal – winner of an Oscar Award for the best soundtrack in Frida (starring Salma Hayek).

Another important moment, an absolute premiere for Romania, is “Imaginary”an interactive exhibition of mathematics and music, part of the “Creative Bucharest” project in the Enescu Festival 2017. In this exhibition, the audience will have the chance to interact with various works of art, 3D sculptures, installations specially designed by artists and mathematicians, which will depict the way mathematics can create some of the most interesting works of art. At the same time, the international exhibition “Imaginary” illustrates the unique manner in which mathematics and music can complete each other, bringing together, for the same creative purposes, mathematicians and musicians. Organised by the Freie Universität Berlin and the “Imaginary” Non-Profit Organisation, in collaboration with Università di Genova, IMAR and the University of Bucharest, the exhibition has reached 50 countries and has had over 2.5 million visitors so far.


Some of the most acclaimed figures of international classical music will come to Bucharest for the first time in 2017. Present on the most important opera stages of the world, the tenor Jonas Kaufmann is part of the programme of the 2017 edition of the Festival for the first time, and he will perform at the Romanian Athenaeum on September 17. Another premiere will be the performances of Sir Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone), the mezzosoprano Magdalena Kožená, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky with the Arpeggiata Ensemble, the pianist Daniil Trifonov, the conductor Riccardo Chailly, the baritones Thomas Hampson and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, as well as the soprano Olga Peretyatko. Another pianist with an ascending international career, the young and brilliant Khatia Buniatishvili, will delight the audience of the Enescu Festival in 2017. She will be joined by the famous trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth, another first-timer at the festival. The famous Indian composer and instrumentalist Anoushka Shankar will also perform at the 2017 edition of the Festival for the first time.

The violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and the legendary pianist Martha Argerich return to the Festival and they will perform in the 2017 edition with famous orchestras including Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Some of the other guest artists of the 2017 edition are: Maxim Vengerov, Nikolaj Znaider, Leonidas Kavakos, Joshua Bell, Renaud Capuçon, David Garrett, Peter Frank Zimmermann, Misha Maisky, Gautier Capuçon, Nikolai Lugansky and Boris Berezovski.

They will be joined by top orchestras such as Orchestra Scala di Milano, Orchestra Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Münchner Philharmoniker or London Philharmonic Orchestra. First-class conductors including Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Chailly and Michail Pletnev are also part of this edition’s programme. The Prague Philharmonic, under the baton of Cristian Măcelaru, will also be present at the Festival for the first time, with a programme including works by Enescu, Brahms and Martinů.


As part of the programme of the 2017 edition of the Festival, the renowned Antonio Pappano will conduct the Symphony No. 3 in C Major Op. 21 with Choir by George Enescu, thus offering the audience another premiere: Orchestra Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia performing Enescu (September 21). In addition, the Orchestre National de France conducted by Christoph Eschenbach and with Truls Mørk as soloist will perform the Symphonie Concertante pour Cello by George Enescu (September 19), a composition that the famous orchestra has also chosen to open its own 2017/2018 season in Paris.


Enescu Festival 2017 also brings to the audience top Romanian figures in one of the most substantial selections: George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, National Radio Orchestra, Royal Camerata, the philharmonic orchestras of Cluj, Iași, Timișoara and Bacău, the conductors Cristian Mandeal, Horia Andreescu, Cristian Măcelaru, Tiberiu Soare, Adrian Petrescu, Cristian Lupeș and the soloists Ruxandra Donose, Vlad Budoiu, Cosmin Ifrim, Adrian Sâmpetrean, Roxana Constantinescu, Szabo Balint, Gabriela Iștoc, Alin Anca, Viniciu Moroianu, Alexandra Dariescu and Remus Azoiței.

Winners of the Enescu Competition will also take the stage of the Enescu Festival, together with important international and national orchestras: Valentin Răduțiu, Mihai Ritivoiu, Viniciu Moroianu, Victoria Vassilenko, Zlatomir Fung, Luiza Borac, Josu de Solaun, Ștefan Tarara, Eun‑Sun Hong, Vassilis Varvaressos and Erzhan Kulibaev.

There will be a total number of 12 concerts in the 2017 edition of the Festival in the rest of the country, in cities such as Iași, Cluj, Timișoara, Bacău, Ploiești, Oradea and Sibiu.


Live broadcasts of the concerts in the Enescu Festival 2017 will be provided on the Festival’s website,, on the screens in the Festival Square (George Enescu Square), as well as in cinemas at Grand Cinema & More.

For information on the Enescu Festival 2017 programme and the concerts for which tickets are still available, please visit

Translation provided by Biroul de Traduceri Champollion