Preface Antony Hermus

Welcome to the new season of the Belgian National Orchestra!

The start of a new season is always a particularly inspiring moment. It is like setting off together on a great journey. A journey led by excellent guides, punctuated by spectacular monuments, sometimes surprising encounters and unexpected landscapes. On the programme, lots of music, of course. Overwhelming, colourful and emotional music, performed by the musicians of your Belgian National Orchestra, accompanied by a host of talented soloists and conductors. As chief conductor, I am delighted to be your companion during this journey throughout the season. But I do not intend to limit myself to conducting, and I also look forward to playing an active part in Belgian and Brussels life.

Our opening concert, with Mahler's Totenfeier on the programme, gave you a foretaste of the massive Mahler complete works that the three federal cultural institutions are offering you over the next two years. On the same evening, we also presented the world premiere of a posthumous composition by Wim Henderickx, who passed away recently. He is our composer in residence this season, and several concerts will pay tribute to him.

The 2023-24 season continues with Mahler's First Symphony conducted by first guest conductor Roberto González-Monjas. In November, associate conductor Michael Schønwandt will introduce you to Carl Nielsen's Third Symphony. As for me, I am already looking forward to conducting Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony and to performing an orchestral arrangement of Wagner's musical drama Tristan und Isolde – a piece that is particularly close to my heart.

You can find out more about all these concerts and much more in this brand-new magazine, which will be published three times a season from now on. Browse through articles on Mahler, Shostakovich and Carl Nielsen, get to know cellist Yibai Chen, actor Lucas Tavernier and our two Konzertmeister, and be inspired by the words and reflections of psychiatrist Dirk De Wachter on our season’s theme 'Hope and Despair'.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to venture off the beaten track this season. Each of the pieces we perform has been chosen with great care. So rest assured: each concert will trigger something in you. How about a film concert, for example? A classic from the seventh art: Varieté, accompanied by a superb new score by Elena Kats-Chernin!

See you soon!

Antony Hermus
chief conductor