Philharmonie Festiva is a symphony orchestra comprising musicians from some of Germany’s best ensembles. Founded in 2008 by its conductor Gerd Schaller, Philharmonie Festiva has since then been making waves on the international music scene thanks to their recordings and concerts of works by Anton Bruckner.
Gerd Schaller has built up a top-flight ensemble and continued to develop the orchestra in recent years. Right from the outset, the conductor and his musicians were attracted by the incentive and the challenge of creating a sound all their very own that corresponds to the repertoire they have chosen to perform: an exciting task, because the instrumentalists bring with them a host of different experiences and ideas about sound as a result of their work in their various “home orchestras” – and yet this is also a highly appealing undertaking, because nothing is set in stone in the Philharmonie Festiva; there is no routine to hamper things, just opportunities for new experiences and experiments. Out of this there emerges a feeling among the musicians that they are creating something new, something mutual, and that they are cultivating a common musical signature, a fact that makes each new project that the ensemble undertakes into a very special experience.
The musicians in the orchestra have the opportunity to sound out musical boundaries and to sometimes go beyond them. Another special aspect of the Philharmonie Festiva is the idea that a large orchestra can think and act like a chamber music ensemble. Together, Schaller and his orchestra have devoted themselves to this aim with increasing success since the orchestra was founded.
For Schaller, the much acclaimed Bruckner cycle that has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike is the core focal point. Within the framework of the BRUCKNER2024 project he plans to expand the cycle: together with the Philharmonie Festiva he will stage concerts featuring all versions of Bruckner’s symphonies and record them for release as CD albums. The first 20 albums in the cycle have already been released on the PROFIL Edition Günter Hänssler label, which has supported and promoted the orchestra’s projects from day one and has been heavily committed to the ensemble’s long-term development.
Alongside the Bruckner interpretations, the conductor tirelessly sets out with his orchestra to make new discoveries with popular symphonic repertoire, while also pursuing the aim of performing seldom heard works or those long forgotten or neglected. He has for instance given concerts with the Philharmonie Festiva and made recordings of Carl Goldmark’s opera Merlin, of the Great Mass by Johann Ritter von Herbeck and of Franz von Suppé’s Requiem –all works that stood very little chance in the mainstream concert business of being staged.
Then there is another aspect which distinguishes this orchestra from many others: the aura of the former Cistercian abbey of Ebrach in south-eastern Germany, where at the Ebrach Summer Music Festival, also founded by Gerd Schaller, the ensemble performs most of its concerts and recordings – generally in cooperation with the Bavarian broadcasting station BR, Studio Franken.