Cologne’s music director founds an amateur orchestra

Francois-Xavier Roth is finding ways, as General Music Director of the Gürzenich-Orchester, of overcoming Cologne’s musical paralysis. The city opera is several years behind its reopening schedule and half a billion Euros over budget. The radio orchestra is in transition.

But the enterprising Frenchman, 48, is catching the eye with a plan to create a citizens’ orchestra of amateurs that he will not only select and train. He will also give a public concert with them at the Kölner Philharmonie in June 2020.

Cool move.



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  • “The radio orchestra is presently headless”. Interesting statement when earlier this year , Cristian Măcelaru was appointed its new chief conductor beginning this coming season.

  • I do not see that Cologne is in “musical paralysis”. You may criticize Cologne’s cultural politics for many and substantial reasons – that the opera house will not be ready for many years is just one of them. But this does not result into musical paralysis. Even the opera is still very active. There are many performances in the “Staatenhaus”. Although it has bad acoustics some of the performances are first class. You may have different opinion on that – fair enough. But I really find it inappropriate to mention the Radio Symphony Orchestra (WDR) in this context. You may call the change of the chief conductor a transitional period but not a paralysis. In contrary, I expect that the young Cristian Măcelaru will give lively input to the musical life of the orchestra as he has already done when guest conducting it.

  • Bravo to FXR! The assertion that Cologne is currently suffering from musical paralysis is absurd. WDR, Kölner Philharmonie, the opera in Staatenhaus, Musikfabrik, etc etc etc all active and dynamic.

    • Indeed! I live in Cologne. It is remarkably active musically, especially considering its relatively modest population.

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