Marko Letonja

Conductor

Chief Conductor – Orchèstre Philharmonique de Strasbourg
General Music Director – Bremen Philharmonic
Conductor Laureate – Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Biography

Marko Letonja has been Chief Conductor of the Orchèstre Philharmonique de Strasbourg since 2012.  Recent highlights of his tenure include a tour of Germany, culminating in highly praised performances at Hamburg’s Elphilharmonie and Frankfurt’s Alte Oper, a multi-city tour of Korea and a performance of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle at the Paris Philharmonie.

Marko is also Conductor Laureate of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, following his tenure as Chief Conductor there from 2011 to 2018.  He has been widely acclaimed for bringing the TSO to new heights, and in 2017 won the Helpmann Award for Best Symphony Orchestra Concert for a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with Nina Stemme and Stuart Skelton.   He has also been General Music Director of the Bremen Philharmonic since September 2018.

As a guest conductor, Marko has worked with the Vienna Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Hamburg Symphony, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala in Milan and the Berlin Radio Symphony.  He has also worked with the Seoul Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, Stockholm Opera Orchestra, Stuttgart State Orchestra and toured the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.  Recent and future highlights include a production of Tales of Hoffman at the New National Theatre, Tokyo;  a production of Falstaff in Bremen; a production of Ginastera’s Beatrice Cenci at the Opera National du Rhin which won the Grand Prix for Best Opera Production of the Syndicat Professionnel de la Critique in 2019. 

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Reviews

“Under the precise baton of Marko Letonja, its musical director, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra is gleaming, rich in colours, rumbling with force when the score demands.”

Jean Landres

Bachtrack

More Reviews

Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg – Parsifal – January 2020

Das Orchestre Philharmonique de Straßburg hat seit der Amtszeit von Letonja zu einer hohen Spielkultur gefunden. Selten dürfte es heutzutage einen Orchesterklang in der Wagner Interpretation geben, der derart Hand in Hand mit den Sängern geht. Das Orchester achtete hörbar auf die Sänger. Zudem agierte es äußerst kultiviert und ausdauernd. Die Intonation war tadellos und vor allem die zahlreichen Soli, z.B. die Trompete im Vorspiel, gerieten berührend. Hier war auch bei dem gelungenen, heiklen Unisono Beginn der Streicher zu spüren, wie gut das Orchester aufeinander hörte.

The Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg has found a high playing culture during Letonja’s time.  Nowadays in the interpretation of Wagner one seldom finds an orchestral sound that matches the singers.  The orchestra continually listened to the singers.  In addition, it was extremely cultivated and enduring.  The intonation was flawless and above all the numerous solos – e.g. the trumpet in the prelude – were touching.  Here, with the successful, delicate unison of the strings, you could feel how well the orchestra listened to each other.

Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, November 2019

Suite n ° 2 by Daphnis and Chloé opens all three works by Maurice Ravel which will lead to the conclusion of the program. The sunrise is rendered in an extremely suggestive way, all the desks entering the scene with the sensitivity of awakening, the murmur of the strings creating a background of atmosphere still nocturnal and mysterious… The rest of the work operates a magical charm by the care taken in rendering the nuances and accentuations.

… Under the inspired direction of Marko Letonja, the Strasbourg group generates a kind of undulation where the sequences and the balances between orchestral masses create a climate of absolute serenity to which the harp makes a wonderful aerial contribution.

Frankfurt Alte Oper – November 2019

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – 22/11/2019, Axel Zibulski

Ganz auf Repertoireklassiker setztendas Orchester und der Slowene Letonja,seit sieben Jahren Chefdirigent in Straßburg, auch mit ihrem übrigen Programm. An Georges Bizets Suite Nr. 1aus der Oper „Carmen“ gefiel, dass neben dem schmissigen Torero-Sound dieDelikatesse der französischen Opéra-comique nicht zu kurz kam. Die zweiteSuite aus Ravels Ballettmusik „Daphniset Chloé“ begann mit präzise zwitschernden Flötengirlanden, in der „Pavane pour une infante défunte“ brillierte der erste Hornist mit Noblesse undWärme. Nahezu alle Stimmführer ausdem Straßburger Orchester beglaubigten schließlich in Ravels „Boléro“ mit ihren Solo-Passagen das unter Letonja gewahrte hohe Niveau des Orchesters, dasauch aus lichten Zuschauerreihen kräftig bejubelt wurde

The orchestra and the Slovenian Letonja, chief conductor in Strasbourg for seven years, set their sights on repertoire classics, also with their other program. What was impressive about Georges Bizet’s Suite No. 1 from the opera “Carmen” was that besides the snappy torero sound, the delicacy of the French opera comique was not neglected. The second suite of Ravel’s ballet music “Daphniset Chloé” began with precisely chirping flute garlands, in the “Pavane pour une infante défunte” the first horn player shone with nobility and warmth. In Ravel’s “Boléro”, almost all of the leaders from the Strasbourg Orchestra attested to Letonja’s high level vision of the orchestra, which was also cheered on by the spectators.

Dusseldorf Tonahalle, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, November 2019

21/11 / 2019 Wolfram Goertzrp – RP online

Dass es auch anders geht, bewies jetzt das vortreffliche Orchestrephilharmonique de Strasbourg bei seinem Gastkonzert in der Tonhalle. Bedenkliche Emissionsgrenzwerte der Lautstärke erreichte es fast nie, was zumeinen mit seiner offenkundigen Selbstverpflichtung zu Diskretion und Delikatesse zu tun hatte. Zum anderenstand vorn ein Mann, der das völlige Gegenteil des Showstars am Pult ist: der Slowene Marko Letonja. Mit ruhiger, klarer, faxenfreier Zeichengebung koordinierte er den „Bolero“ wie eine Komposition, die sichgleichsam von selbst aufführt. Ergebnis: Das Werk brüllte nicht, sondern besaß sogar Charme.

The excellent Orchestre Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasbourg has now demonstrated that there is another way for guest concerts in the Tonhalle. It almost never reached questionable limits of volume emissions, which had to do with its overt commitment to discretion and delicacy. On the other hand, there was a man at the front who was the complete opposite of the show star on the podium: the Slovenian Marko Letonja. He coordinated the Bolero in a calm, clear way with sensuous gesture, leading to the impression of an autonomously performed composition.  The result: the work did not roar, but even had charm.

APRIL 2018 – Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Paris Philharmonie

OPERA MAGAZINE, 18 April 2018

Sous la baguette précise de Marko Letonja, son directeui musical l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg est rutilant, riche en couleurs, grondant avec torce lorsque la partition …. exige

Under the precise baton of Marko Letonja, its musical director, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra is gleaming, rich in colours, rumbling with force when the score …demands

Classica – April 18

“Invite a Paris pour le « Week End Pascal Dusapin », l’Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg montre tout le chemin qu’il a par couru depuis 2012 sous la direc lion de Marko Letonja. Morning in Long Island du compositeur français (2010), évocation de balades sur les plages new yorkaises, est une large pièce fine ment ciselée et rythmiquement envoûtante dont la phalange alsacienne tire le meilleur parti.”

“Invited to Paris for “Weekend Pascal Dusapin”, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra shows how far it has come since 2012 under the direction of Marko Letonja. Morning in Long Island by the French composer (2010), an evocation of strolls on the New York beaches, is a large piece, finely chiseled and rhythmically bewitching, whose Alsatian troops make the most of it.”

Royal Stockholm Opera – Ring Cycle – 2017

Times Literary Supplement, Guy Damann, June 2017

 

Marko Letonja’s musical direction is impossible to fault, sensitively paced throughout so that the arcs in which Wagner’s spatio-temporal landscape is laid out in the music emerge with singular clarity.

Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra – September 2017

 

  1. September 2017 Großes Festspielhaus / Mozarteumorchester, Dirigent: Marko Letonja Beethoven Violinkonzert

 

PNP (Passauer Neue Presse), 05.10.2017

 

Schon zu Beginn fällt Marko Letonjas zurückhaltender Dirigierstil auf. Mit kleinen, doch ausdrucksstarken Bewegungen korrespondiert er mit einem Orchester, das mit seiner Interpretation absolut harmoniert, die lyrische Grundstimmung in beglückender Weise umsetzt und dem einsetzenden Soloinstrument Raum gibt…. Heiter und beschwingt führt Beethoven im tänzerischen Rondo die Zuhörer durch einen vollen Orchesterklang, wunderbar dargeboten vom Mozarteumorchester, meisterhaft gelenkt von Marko Letonja.

 

Right from the start, Marko Letonja’s restrained conducting style is striking. With small, yet expressive movements, he corresponds to an orchestra that perfectly harmonizes with its interpretation, which translates the basic lyrical mood in a delightful way and gives space to the starting solo instrument… In the dance rondo Beethoven leads the listeners with a full orchestral sound, wonderfully performed by the Mozarteum Orchestra, masterfully directed by Marko Letonja.

 

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