“The devastating Balkan wars of the 1990s—which led to NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999—took a grave toll” on the 91-year-old Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, writes Celia Wren in Sunday’s (10/5) Washington Post. “Since the conflict, the Belgrade Philharmonic has recovered, looked ahead and instituted new practices and programs, making progress that has ‘exceeded all expectations and limits,’ says [acting director] Darko Krstic.” The orchestra’s first U.S. tour this month takes it to Bethesda, Maryland’s Strathmore, then to Chicago, Cleveland, and New York. “In recent years, the orchestra has launched some notable programs, including a series of concerts featuring female conductors (cheekily titled ‘On High Heels’); a series called ‘Bizarrte,’ aimed at attracting new and younger audiences …; and a regional cooperation project with the philharmonics of Croatia and Slovenia.… Kristic says the orchestra’s musicians are almost all Serbian and that the shared background contributes to a unifying sensibility that is evident in the orchestra’s ‘striking’ presentational style and sound. That sound has been shaped recently by Muhai Tang, the Chinese maestro who became the orchestra’s chief conductor in 2010. ‘He has great energy—incredible energy,’ the orchestra’s co-concertmaster, violinist Tijana Milosevic, said.”

Posted October 8, 2014