UPDATE APRIL 1, 2016:
PBS Launches Nationwide Telecasts of “Ode to Joy: Beethoven’s Symphony No.9”
Narrated by John Lithgow, and featuring
Mark Laycock and the WienerKammerOrchester’s performance with the Westminster Symphonic Choir filmed for
PBS’ “Great Performances” Series
Check with your local PBS affiliate for airtimes
More information on “Ode to Joy” (including additional video material and bios on all artists) can be found here by clicking on the red link for: PBS page “Ode to Joy”
“Die wunderbaren Wuppertaler Sinfoniker unter der begnadeten Leitung des extra eingeflogenen grandiosen amerikanischen Dirigenten Mark Laycock, dieses mutige Unterfangen wurde für mich völlig verblüffend vom fachkundigen Wuppertaler Publikum bejubelt als hätte man den alten Karajan wieder neu geklont präsentiert…”
“The wonderful Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the gifted flown in grandiose American conductor Mark Laycock, was utterly astoundingly cheered after this bold undertaking by a knowledgeable Wuppertal audience as if you had the old Karajan again presented newly cloned…”
Der OpernFreund, March 2015, Deutschland
“Not enough can be said about conductor Mark Laycock’s sensitive, collaborative accompaniment that made the Mozart concerto feel like chamber music, and allowed Shostakovich to sound downright improvisational, even in its bratty moments.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 19, 2014
Philadelphia Orchestra Soars in Princeton
By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
“Under guest conductor Mark Laycock, the Wednesday concert at Richardson Auditorium went well over the two hours and was dense with Schumann, Brahms, Prokofiev, and others. Even when played at some exhilaratingly brisk tempos, the music kept everyone on edge in the best possible way in what was an extremely generous and highly successful concert – in live, immediate acoustics that were flattering to the Philadelphia Sound.
The orchestra’s long absence isn’t surprising. Princeton has a healthy orchestral life of its own, thanks partly to Laycock’s years with what is now the Princeton Symphony Orchestra…This particular concert was the Sixth Annual Midsummer Celebration funded by local philanthropists William and Judith Scheide. Now based in Europe (the Zurich/Vienna nexus), the dignified, almost courtly Laycock is the Scheides’ conductor of choice.
From almost the first notes, Laycock established that this would be no mere run-through. Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, which often seems to play itself, had intriguingly halting tempos in the second movement that put it in the world of the composer’s much later (and deeply satirical) Lieutenant Kijé.
Weber’s Oberon Overture felt almost Viennese in its tempo flexibility. Each section of Brahms’ Haydn Variations was its own world. And that was only the first half.
Such strong-monded interpretations felt particularly brave in light of the concert’s limited rehearsal. Laycock has conducted this orchestra often, but not for 19 years. On to the second half…
Schumann’s Symphony No.1 (“Spring”) can seem repetitive and garrulous in less sympathetic circumstances but certainly wasn’t in Wednesday’s brisk, tightly controlled performance. Such an approach might not be possible with a lesser orchestra, but this one has power in reserve. When the scherzo couldn’t go any faster, the middle section put the pedal to the metal. Grand conclusions went even grander – often with an unexpected slowing of the tempo.
After the symphony’s breathless conclusion, Laycock clearly was up to something – Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture played as an encore at a speed that outstripped Schumann. Speed, alone, is not an artistic statement. Here, tempos released the music’s inner energy.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 2013
“The English Chamber Orchestra, under the vibrant direction of Maestro Mark Laycock, began the program with Sir Arnold Bax’ “Dance in the Sunlight,” a lively, romantic and complex score. The ever renowned Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op 67 completed the inspiring program. Through his mastery of the composition, Maestro Laycock, fluidly, energetically and skillfully inspired the English Chamber Orchestra to perform at their highest level.”
The Princeton Packet, January 21, 2013
“It is a pleasure for me to highly recommend Mark as a professional musician, who has a very broad spectrum of abilities and has always shown to be the perfect conductor for all kinds of repertoire. Apart from his professionalism concerning the musician Mark Laycock, he is an outstandingly, friendly and easy-to-work-with person who is always welcome in the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.”
Christian Buchmann, Managing Director , Wiener KammerOrchester
“An extraordinary conductor: hugely gifted, a marvelous person, and a first class conductor”
John Nelson, Directeur Musicale Honoraire, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris
Teri Noel Towe, Classical Music Radio Host, WPRB103.3 FM