Press Room

Israeli Conductor and Dutch Violinist Make Houston Symphony Debut

HOUSTON (Jan. 9, 2018) – Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber takes the podium as he makes his Houston Symphony debut for Tchaikovsky 4 on Jan. 25 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. in Jones Hall.

Known as one of today’s leading conductors of operatic and orchestral repertoire, Wellber leads the orchestra in a program featuring works by magnificent composers. Wellber opens the program with Mozart’s Overture and Ballet Music from Idomeneo, an opera centered on Idomeneo, a mythical King of Crete who was obliged to sacrifice his son to appease the god Poseidon. The premiere took place two days after Mozart’s 25th birthday and likely increased his confidence.

Also making her Houston Symphony debut is Dutch violin virtuoso Simone Lamsma who will treat listeners to an unforgettable interpretation of Britten’s ravishing Violin Concerto. Lamsma’s performance of Britten’s Violin Concerto has received ecstatic praise by critics all over the world. The program then concludes with Tchaikovsky’s expressive Symphony No. 4, a compelling musical drama the composer regarded as his “best symphonic work.”

The concert will take place at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana Street, in Houston’s Theater District. For tickets and information, please call (713) 224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the Houston Symphony Patron Services Center in Jones Hall (Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All programs and artists are subject to change.

TCHAIKOVSKY 4
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, at 2:30 p.m.
Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
Simone Lamsma, violin
Mozart: Overture and Ballet Music from Idomeneo
Britten: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

About Omer Meir Wellber
Omer Meir Wellber has established himself as one of today’s leading conductors of operatic and orchestral repertoire alike. He has directed some of the world’s most prestigious ensembles, such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, RAI Torino, and Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich. His combination of energy and clarity and his ability to evoke nuanced detail from an orchestra have made him a regular guest conductor at the Semperoper Dresden, the Bavarian State Opera Munich, Le Fenice in Venice, and the Israeli Opera. In-demand around the world, he balances constant international appearances with a commitment to performing classical music and promoting music integration projects in his native country Israel.

In 2017/2018, Omer Meir Wellber’s orchestral engagements include debuts with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, SWR Sinfonieorchester and Mahler Chamber Orchestra as part of a multi-city tour. He will return after critically-praised 2016 debuts to both the Orchestre National de Lyon and Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and he will also appear at the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR-Symphonieorchester and Wroclaw Philharmonic.

Omer Meir Wellber’s opera highlights for the season continue his long-standing relationships with both the Semperoper Dresden and the Bavarian State Opera Munich. In Dresden, he will conduct the Staatskapelle in productions of Strauss’ Salome and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, as well as lead the ensemble in symphonic concerts. At the Bavarian State Opera, he will premiere Verdi’s Les Vêpres siciliennes, also conducting Bizet’s Carmen and Boito’s Mefistofele. Having made his 2014 debut at Glyndebourne with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, he will step onto its podium again in summer 2018 to unveil the festival’s new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – his first time conducting a premiere at the festival.

Omer Meir Wellber’s 2017/2018 appearances build off the success of his previous seasons’ engagements at major ensembles and houses around the world. In 2016/2017, the conductor debuted with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre National de Lyon, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra. In November 2016 he conducted the Staatskapelle Dresden in the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s oratorio About Love and Hate. He led the premiere of Andrea Chenier by Giordano in March 2017 at the Bavarian State Opera, where he previously opened a new production of Mefistofele in 2015. His 2017 opera engagements at the Semperoper included multiple performances of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni as part of the Mozart-Tage 2017. January 2017 saw Omer Meir Wellber enter the pit of Teatro La Fenice in Venice for Wagner’s Tannhäuser. He has also led symphonic performances at the Italian house, including a 2016 concert featuring violinist Midori as part of a European multi-city tour.

Omer Meir Wellber served as the Music Director at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia from 2010 to 2014, leading both orchestral and operatic performances, such as Eugene Onegin, which was published on DVD by C Major. He conducted Verdi’s operatic masterpiece trifecta – Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore – at the Vienna Festival in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. In 2011, he made his debut at the Bavarian State Opera with La Traviata, and 2010 saw him begin his relationship with the Semperoper, where he has since conducted Strauss’ Daphne, Ariadne auf Naxos and a concert performance of Guntram, among works by other composers. From 2008 to 2010, Omer Meir Wellber assisted Daniel Barenboim at both the Berliner Staatsoper Unter den Linden and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, whose ensemble he led in a critically-hailed performance of Verdi’s Aida at the Israeli Opera. In 2010, he also stepped in for Seiji Ozawa, conducting Strauss’ Salome at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto. Other prior appearances include the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Orchestre de Paris, NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover, hr-Sinfonieorchester in Frankfurt, Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scala, a concert at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and his highly-praised direction of Aida at the Arena di Verona, which was recorded and released on DVD by BelAir classiques.

Despite Omer Meir Wellber’s demanding schedule of global engagements, he maintains a deeply-rooted commitment to performing ensembles in his native country Israel. He has been a regular guest conductor for over ten years at the Israeli Opera, where he has led performances of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, Puccini’s Turandot and Madama Butterfly, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Gounod’s Faust and Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, among others. In 2007, he debuted with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2016, he led the ensemble during its residency at the Dresdner Music Festival.

In Israel, Omer Meir Wellber aims to bring music as a powerful tool for social change. Since 2009, he has been the Music Director of the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra, founded in 1991 to assist Jewish immigrants with their integration in Israel. In addition, he is the founder and musical leader of Sarab – Strings of Change. Meaning “oasis” in Arabic, Sarab brings music education to Bedouin children in the Negev who face some of the greatest levels of disadvantage and discrimination within Israeli society. Through this initiative, he works to change Bedouin youths’ social reality and helps them build life-long skills, while also improving collaboration and communication between Bedouin and Jewish communities. The conductor also is a Good Will Ambassador for Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli-based non-profit organization that provides critical cardiac medical support. In addition, Omer Meir Wellber collaborates with various institutions through outreach programs and fosters the next generation of conducting students through educational lectures.

His unique musical mark also includes the 2017 publication of his book “Fear, Risk and Love – Moments with Mozart.” Co-written with German author and journalist Inge Kloepfer, the book shares his personal understanding of the universal emotions present in the three Mozart/Da Ponte operas. The written work sits alongside his multimedia publications: a DVD of Mefistofele (Unitel, 2016) recorded at the Munich Opera Festival with the Bavarian State Orchestra; a DVD of his critically-acclaimed June 2013 jubilee performance of Aida at the Arena di Verona (BelAir classiques, 2014); and a DVD of Eugene Onegin (C Major, 2013) recorded in 2011 during his tenure at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.

Born in Be’er Sheva in 1981, Omer Meir Wellber began studying accordion and piano at age five. He took composition lessons with Tania Taler starting at the age of nine, then continuing under Michael Wolpe until 2004. He graduated from the Be’er Sheva Conservatory in 1999 and received a music scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, which he used to study Conducting and Composition at the Jerusalem Music Academy from 2000-2008 with Eugene Zirlin and Mendi Rodan. Omer Meir Wellber’s compositions have been performed and broadcast both in Israel and internationally.

About Simone Lamsma
Hailed for her “absolutely stunning” playing (Chicago Tribune), Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma is respected by critics, peers and audiences as one of classical music’s most captivating personalities. Recent highlights include her debut with the Chicago Symphony; performances with the Cleveland and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras, the Rotterdam, BBC and Seoul Philharmonics, the San Francisco Symphony and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; a tour of China with the Hong Kong Philharmonic under Jaap van Zweden; and the French première of Michel van der Aa’s Violin Concerto with the Orchestre National de Lyon.

In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons Simone debuts here and with the New York and Oslo Philharmonics, the Detroit, San Diego and Pittsburgh Symphonies and MDR Leipzig. Simone has worked many eminent conductors, including Jaap van Zweden, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Neville Marriner, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, James Gaffigan, Sir Andrew Davis, Andrès Orozco-Estrada, Jiří Bělohlávek, Carlos Kalmar, Kirill Karabits, Stéphane Denève, Hannu Lintu, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Lawrence Foster, Robert Trevino, Fabien Gabel, François-Xavier Roth and James Feddeck.

A dedicated chamber musician, recent recital appearances include Simone’s highly anticipated debuts in London’s Wigmore Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall in March 2017 with pianist Robert Kulek. Simone’s most recent recording features Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto and Gubaidulina’s In Tempus praesens with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic under James Gaffigan and Reinbert de Leeuw. Released on Challenge Classics, it received high accolades, as did her previous Mendelssohn, Janáček and Schumann recording with pianist Robert Kulek. Simone has received many prizes and distinctions, including the national Dutch VSCD Classical Music Prize in the category ‘New Generation Musicians’ in 2010.

Simone began studying violin at age 5 and studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School with Hu Kun from age 11. At the age of 14 she made her highly praised professional solo debut with the North Netherlands Orchestra. She continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hu Kun and Maurice Hasson, graduating at 19 with first class honours and several awards. In 2011, she became an Associate of the RAM. Simone currently lives in the Netherlands.

Simone plays the “Mlynarski” Stradivarius (1718), on generous loan to her from an anonymous benefactor.

About the Houston Symphony
During the 2017-18 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fourth season with Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer over 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston. For tickets and more information, please visit houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Vanessa Astros: (713) 337-8560, vanessa.astros@houstonsymphony.org
Mireya Reyna: (713) 337-8557, mireya.reyna@houstonsymphony.org

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