Musikfest Berlin

Thomas Adés makes his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker

Tomas Adès (photo: Marco Borggreve)

Thomas Adès is the best-known English composer since Benjamin Britten, and his sensuous works, alternating between irony and melancholy, have been part of the repertoire of the Berliner Philharmoniker for years. Now he collaborates with the orchestra for the first time as conductor, presenting music that is particularly important to him. In addition to two of his own compositions – his nostalgic Violin Concerto, with soloist Pekka Kuusisto, and the Exterminating Angel Symphony, which plays with various musical styles – Thomas Adès conducts works by his great inspiration Hector Berlioz and his composer friend Gerald Barry.

Berliner Philharmoniker

Thomas Adès conductor

Pekka Kuusisto violin

Hector Berlioz

Les Francs-juges: Overture

Thomas Adès

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, op. 23 “Concentric Paths”

Pekka Kuusisto violin

Gerald Barry


Thomas Adès

The Exterminating Angel Symphony

In cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin

Dates and Tickets


Thomas Adès

Thomas Adès is one of the most successful and most-performed composers of our time. He must, however, be able to “leave the house”, as he says, which is why he is “also on the road as an interpreter”. But Adès is not only a gifted piano virtuoso with solo recitals at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall in London. He also appears regularly as a conductor with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies and festivals. It is no accident that the London native, who graduated with top marks from London’s Guildhall School of Music and King’s College in Cambridge, has been the artistic partner of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for many years, although he is also a regular guest in the US with the orchestras in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Adès was appointed Benjamin Britten Professor of Composition at London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1998, and from 1999 to 2008 he was artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival, which was founded by Benjamin Britten. The acclaimed stage composer, who already scored an international hit with his first opera, Powder Her Face, has also achieved success as a conductor with opera companies such as New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House and the Vienna Staatsoper. For his orchestral work Asyla, which Sir Simon Rattle programmed for his inaugural concert as chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2002, Adès received the Grawemeyer Award, with a prize of $200,000.

Pekka Kuusisto

According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, Pekka Kuusisto has "the most personal sound of any classical violinist today” – at the same time, he is a musical crossover artist who effortlessly switches between different styles such as folk, jazz and electro: “The more I work with very different genres, the deeper I can dive into classical music in turn.” The charismatic Finn also appreciates the art of improvisation, which has many aspects “that are extremely useful for us as classically trained musicians. With Bach, you feel in every note that he was a gifted improviser”. Basically, Kuusisto says, his work consists of “storytelling. It is the essence of what I do. Sometimes I tell my own stories, sometimes those of others. The violinist, conductor and composer, who studied at the Sibelius Academy and the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, is now artistic director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and, from the 2023/24 season, principal guest conductor and artistic co-director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Very much a champion of contemporary music, Kuusisto works with composers such as Bryce Dessner, Daníel Bjarnason and Thomas Adès, whose violin concerto Concentric Paths he describes as “touching and deeply emotional music”.

Pekka Kuusisto (photo: Kaapo Kamu)