For Alexander Liebreich, conducting is a state of mind. Openness and curiosity are integral elements of his work, both of which are evident equally through his interpretations and programming. Historical performance practice and contemporary music – free of dogmatic and ideological pressure – also play an important role. Liebreich works without reservations: he sets his trademarks through concise concert programmes and innovative concert formats.
Alexander Liebreich has proven himself to be one of the most avid conductors of his generation. Having only assumed the position of Principal Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice in 2012, he has already received widespread recognition in Poland for reinventing the sound and programming of this tradition-steeped orchestra. Liebreich has also been Chief Conductor of the Munich Chamber Orchestra since 2006: under his leadership, the orchestra has made tremendous strides through the development of new concert formats. They have had a lasting effect on, and have enhanced, the city and music life of Munich.
In the same way, South Korea’s Tongyeong International Music Festival (TIMF) – which Liebreich led from 2011 to 2014 – has also benefited greatly from this spirit of renewal. At the festival, he introduced the groundbreaking “East-West Residency Programme” which showcased such prominent contemporary composers as Salvatore Sciarrino, Heiner Goebbels, Beat Furrer and Unsuk Chin. At the same time, Liebreich’s background, firmly rooted in the classical repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, has its long-lasting consequences: he delves into the romantic and modern repertoire from a classical perspective.
Liebreich continually unearths new perspectives through his sleek, distinct and deft approach. He is equally aware of the historical, political and social dimensions of music: it is one’s responsibility towards the future to portray the present. For Liebreich, music is a metaphor for the question of “why,” the brainchild of new ideas. This way of thinking can best be accredited to Michael Gielen: during his studies with Gielen, Liebreich came to understand concise dramaturgy, as well as the importance of critical and analytical thinking.
Alexander Liebreich was also heavily influenced by Claudio Abbado and Nikolaus Hanoncourt. Liebreich approaches conducting, as Abbado did, through the notion of chamber music: the conductor is part of a group in pursuit of a common goal. Here, as in the work of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the dialogic aspect of chamber music comes to the fore; both impulses and effects take on a greater meaning. In using this element to bring together vocal and instrumental music, Liebreich has also made his mark in the world of opera, most notably in his collaboration with the director Hans Neuenfels at the Oper Frankfurt.
Vocal music has always played a prominent role in Alexander Liebreich’s career. Born in Regensburg, Liebreich was steeped in the choir tradition of his hometown at an early age. In addition to conducting, he studied voice with the goal of being able to focus on both Romance philology and music history. His reflections and questioning of language and music have greatly impacted his approach to instrumental music, which was already evident during his time with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest in Hilversum. Liebreich has since gone on to conduct many renowned orchestras: he recently made his debut at such venues as the Musikverein in Vienna, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Cité de la Musique in Paris – always with programmes encouraging a different way of listening.
Alexander Liebreich has also created a lasting legacy as Guest Professor in North Korea, where he conducted the first performance of Brucker’s Eighth Symphony with young musicians. This event was impressively documented by the film “Pyongyang Crescendo,” released in 2005.
In October 2014, Alexander Liebreich – joined by the Bavarian Radio Choir, pianist Krystian Zimerman and the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra – will inaugurate the new Philharmonic Hall in Katowice, whose acoutics were designed by the renowned acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.
From 2014 to 2016, the RIAS Kammerchor and Munich Chamber Orchestra join Alexander Liebreich in commissioning one piece per year, to be premiered in a programme alongside an established work. Salvatore Sciarrino’s composition was premiered in the spring of 2014; a piece written by Pascal Dusapin – to be programmed with Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem – will follow.
In addition to engagements in Poland (including performances with soloists Isabelle Faust and Gautier Capuçon) and with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, this season sees Alexander Liebreich giving his debut with the Dresdner Philharmonie and Sinfonieorchester Basel (with Mikloš Perenyi).