Stéphane Denève is appointed chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic

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The French conductor takes the helm at Brussels Philharmonic and a new research centre for 21st-century repertoire

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Stéphane Denève is appointed chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic
Stéphane Denève

Stéphane Denève has landed two prestigious appointments: as chief conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic and as the inaugural director of the Centre for Future Orchestral Repertoire (Cffor), a research institution dedicated to discovering the music of the current century.

The conductor, who made his debut with the Brussels Philharmonic back in November 2013, will succeed Michel Tabachnik as the new chief conductor in September 2015.

The Centre for Future Orchestra Repertoire (Cffor) is the joint brainchild of Denève and the Brussels Philharmonic’s general manager, Gunther Broucke. The aim is to create an extensive online database of music that is being composed in the 21st century, which can be used to track key developments in repertoire. To achieve this Cffor is gathering information on works premiered since January 2000 by professional symphonic ensembles of 60 players or more.

Denève is aiming to raise awareness of contemporary composers and he is hopeful that more orchestras will start to perform more of their works: ‘Many of the world’s orchestras, in my view, follow an unhealthy repertoire diet – 21st-century music amounts to less than 5 per cent of their activity,' he says.

The conductor’s personal enthusiasm for new composers and their future repertoire will be pivotal to his own choice of concerts in his new role: ‘I will programme at least one 21st-century piece in each of my concerts with the Brussels Philharmonic,’ he says. ‘No other symphonic orchestra, to my knowledge, has committed to programming the best music of today in every concert of its chief conductor.’

On 16 January 2015 Denève will be conducting the Brussels Philharmonic in a concert at Flagey in Brussels that opens with Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral, a piece which the conductor observes has been ‘performed by 200 orchestras worldwide since its premiere in 2000’.

Photo: Bram Goots