Edinburgh Calling

Edinburgh Calling

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Edward Gardner bring Britten’s Peter Grimes and Elgar’s First Symphony to 2017 Edinburgh International Festival

‘For luminous atmosphere and edge-of-the-seat excitement, Gardner’s Bergen forces offer something special’ The Times, September 2016

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra has reinforced its presence on the world stage since Edward Gardner took charge as Music Director in October 2015. Their partnership, recently hailed by the Guardian for its ‘vibrancy and passion’, is set to flourish this summer with two concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF).

The critically acclaimed Norwegian ensemble and its chief conductor have been invited to the Scottish capital to celebrate the EIF’s seventieth anniversary year with a symphonic programme on Saturday 12 August and a concert performance of Britten’s Peter Grimes, a co-production with Bergen National Opera, on Sunday 13 August. 

Stuart Skelton takes the title role in Peter Grimes, with Susan Bickley as Ellen Orford, Christopher Purves as Balstrode, and Brindley Sherratt, James Gilchrist, Marcus Farnsworth, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Vibeke Kristensen and Hanna Husáhr among an outstanding international cast. The opera’s set-piece choruses, integral to its drama, fall to the combined voices of the Bergen Philharmonic Choir, the Edvard Grieg Choir and the Collegium Musicum Choir, each under the direction of chorus master Håkon Matti Skrede. 

Before travelling to Edinburgh, Skelton and other cast members will join Gardner, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Bergen National Opera on 30 May for a performance of Peter Grimes as part of the Bergen International Festival.

“There’s something about Bergen, this remote place by the sea, that makes it so right for Peter Grimes,” comments Edward Gardner. “I’m looking forward to performing the piece there in May and to taking it to Edinburgh in August. It will be a very proud moment for us to present these two massive lyric programmes at the Edinburgh International Festival, with Elgar’s First Symphony in one and Peter Grimes in the other. I know these scores inside out and believe that I can really bring them to life with these terrific musicians.

The orchestra’s visit to Edinburgh is the natural next step following the success of our tours to Germany and the UK this season. I’m delighted that we will be joined by three incredible choruses, each of which has helped transform the choral scene in Bergen in recent years. They are of the highest international standard. I’m sure the audience will appreciate that in Peter Grimes. And I’m equally certain that the orchestra won’t hold back when they start working with Stuart Skelton, who does such remarkable things as Grimes. I can’t wait – it’s going to be wonderful!”

Edward Gardner and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra launch their Edinburgh weekend with Wagner’s Rienzi Overture, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor and Elgar’s Symphony No.1. Paul Lewis appears as soloist in the Bergen-born Grieg’s evergreen concerto, a work central to the orchestra’s repertoire for almost 150 years.

“The more I work with the Bergen Philharmonic, the more fascinated I am to discover what it can bring to the breadth of repertoire we perform together,” observes the conductor, who recently extended his contract with the orchestra to run until the end of the 2020-21 season.

“There’s something in their string sound that is ideal for Elgar’s First Symphony. We will perform the work together for the first time in Bergen on 20 April. I can already imagine their veiled, woody, beautiful string sound so clearly in the Elgar. It’s fascinating to explore English works with a Norwegian orchestra that has a genuine feel for their essential Englishness yet brings something of its own nature to these truly international compositions.”

Bernt E. Bauge, Chief Executive Officer of the Bergen Philharmonic, speaks of the uplift generated within his organisation after receiving the Edinburgh International Festival’s call. “This is an exciting adventure for us,” he notes. “It is fantastic for a Norwegian orchestra and chorus to be invited to perform the iconic British opera Peter Grimes in Edinburgh.

This is a big undertaking for us and one that will give so much energy and momentum to all involved. We will bring around 250 players and singers from Bergen. It’s also a delight to bring another British masterwork to the Edinburgh International Festival and place it company with one of our signature pieces, Grieg’s Piano Concerto.

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, with its overseas tours, recordings and digital concert hall, continues to make its mark on the international stage. That is why it is so special for us to be able to perform Peter Grimes and Elgar’s First Symphony in Edinburgh this summer.”



Saturday 12 August 2017, 7.45pm

Edward Gardner conductor | Paul Lewis piano

Wagner Rienzi overture
Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor
Elgar Symphony No.1

Sunday 13 August 2017, 6pm

Edward Gardner conductor | Stuart Skelton tenor | Susan Bickley alto | Christopher Purves baritone | Brindley Sherratt bass | James Gilchrist tenor | Marcus Farnsworth baritone | Catherine Wyn-Rogers mezzo soprano | Robert Murray tenor | Vibeke Kristensen soprano | Erin Wall soprano | Barnaby Rea bass | Hanna Husahr soprano | Bergen Philharmonic Choir | Edvard Grieg Choir | Collegium Musicum Choir

Britten Peter Grimes