JAMES CONLON OPENS THE 2013 FESTIVAL DE SAINT-DENIS CONDUCTING TWO CONCERTS OF BERLIOZ’S L’ENFANCE DU CHRIST IN HONOR OF SIR COLIN DAVIS WHO WAS SCHEDULED TO CONDUCT THE WORK

05.14.13
James Conlon
Shuman Associates Inc

Conductor James Conlon and the Festival de Saint-Denis will honor Sir Colin Davis in the opening two concerts of the 2013 festival. Mr. Conlon will step in to conduct the Orchestre National de France and the Choeurs de Radio France in two performances of L’enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz on Wednesday, May 29 and Friday, May 31 at 8:30 p.m. Both concerts will take place at the Cathedral Basilica and will be broadcast live on Radio France and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and streamed live on Arte Live Web. Soloists for these two performances are Stéphane Degout, Stéphanie D’Oustrac, François Lis, Jeremy Ovenden, and Nahuel di Pierro. The concerts are dedicated to the memory of Sir Colin Davis, who was scheduled to conduct the work.

Mr. Conlon has close to a 30-year history with the Festival de Saint-Denis, as well as the Orchestre National de France, an orchestra with which he has often concertized and recorded, last conducting a program of Britten, Shostakovich and El Khoury in May 2011. Since his debut at the Festival in 1985, Mr. Conlon has appeared there often, conducting works by a variety of composers including Mahler, Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, and Poulenc; in 1995 he led a special four-concert series featuring the requiems of Brahms, Dvorak, Faure and Verdi. He has also appeared there at the head of the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris, of which he was Principal Conductor between 1995 and 2004, and the Gurzenich Orchester Cologne, of which he was Music Director between 1989 and 2002.

In recent years, Mr. Conlon, who has conducted Berlioz’s works throughout his career, led the December 2012 staged production of Roméo et Juliette at La Scala in Milan, in collaboration with Sasha Walz, and in 2009 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, he conducted the Robert Lepage production of La damnation de Faust—his twenty second opera at the Met. The New York Times said of the performance, “Conducting a tautly paced account, James Conlon underscored grotesquerie without stinting on charm.”

Now in his 34th year as Music Director of the Cincinnati May Festival, the oldest choral festival in the United States, Mr. Conlon conducts works of Mozart, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Zemlinsky, Verdi, Wagner and Britten at the Festival this month. The opening weekend performance of Britten’s War Requiem is part of a three-year homage that Mr. Conlon is paying to Benjamin Britten to mark the 2013 centenary of his birth. The project includes six Britten operas, amongst them A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Metropolitan Opera in October 2013, the three church parables, as well as church music and symphonic works. He has spearheaded a twelve-month citywide celebration, Britten100/LA, in Los Angeles in collaboration with LA Opera, where he is Music Director, involving more than seventy partnerships with cultural organizations. At the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony, he will highlight Britten’s works this summer as well.

Held annually in Saint-Denis in Paris, France since 1969, the Festival de Saint-Denis presents an eclectic blend of musical genres including classical, rock, folk and jazz. Concerts take place at either the Légion d’Honneur or the Royal Cathedral Basilica, one of the first Gothic buildings established in Saint-Denis and the burial ground for the kings and queens of France including Marie Antoinette. The 2013 festival takes place from May 29 to June 28. For more information about the festival and how to purchase tickets, please visit www.festival-saint-denis.com.