Astral & The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Launch Partnership


PHILADELPHIA, PA, February 8, 2017 — Astral and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (COP) are pleased to announce a new partnership between their esteemed Philadelphia institutions. Starting in the 2017/2018 season, COP will annually feature an Astral Spotlight Artist as soloist on their regular series program at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. With Astral’s mission as an early career incubator for rising-star classical musicians and the COP’s long history of, and ongoing interest in, presenting young, up-and-coming soloists as a key component of its regular season, this partnership represents a natural and strategic alignment of goals for both institutions. The partnership also marks a concerted effort to expand Philadelphia’s musical footprint and exposure of its wealth of musical talent in the local, national, and international musical community.

“Given the shared goals of our institutions, the prospect of collaboration and the benefits of such a partnership on both sides were immediately apparent.” COP Executive Director, Bill Rhoads, observed. “We’re excited to work together with Astral to discover and support the immense level of musical talent connected to this city.”

Astral’s Executive Director, Julia Rubio, says, “We are thrilled to collaborate with such a respected chamber orchestra and music director. This is a wonderful opportunity for our outstanding artists that also establishes an important long-term and creative partnership between our organizations. We both share a common interest in providing leadership and vision for Philadelphia’s classical music community.”


Based in Philadelphia, Astral is a national organization that specializes in developing the early careers of extraordinary classical musicians. Astral concentrates its resources on a small number of rising-star soloists and chamber ensembles with the potential to be change-makers and influencers in classical music. Astral provides artists with industry-leading resources, networking, immersive community engagement experiences, and entrepreneurial tools.

With a roster of 28 musicians, Astral presents high quality public programming in Philadelphia that benefits 5,000 concertgoers, school children, and adults in care facilities each year. Astral’s critically acclaimed chamber music series, Astral In Concert, brings its world-class musicians to Philadelphia for stunning performances of traditional and exploratory concert experiences.

Notable Astral laureates include Grammy Award-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux, Metropolitan Opera soprano Angela Meade and bass-baritone Eric Owens, pianist and Sony recording artist Simone Dinnerstein, string trio Time for Three, Metropolitan Opera Concertmaster Nikki Chooi, and the Chiara and Jasper string quartets, among many others.


A founding resident company of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is a 33-member professional ensemble led by Music Director Dirk Brossé. The Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1964 by Marc Mostovoy, has a well-established reputation for distinguished performances of repertoire from the Baroque period through the twenty-first century.

The Chamber Orchestra’s development was motivated, in part, by the desire to provide performance opportunities to young professional musicians emerging from the Curtis Institute of Music and other regional training programs, but also by a desire to make a substantial contribution to the city and the region’s cultural life. In addition to presenting its own productions, the Chamber Orchestra started to develop an entrepreneurial business model by seeking other performance opportunities among the region’s presenter/producer community, thereby providing supplementary employment for its members. The ensemble also championed new music, with a focus on local composers. In total, the organization has commissioned and premiered over seventy new works.

In 1994, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a concert pianist and conducting graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music, joined the Chamber Orchestra as Assistant Conductor. In 1998, he was named Principal Conductor and, ultimately, Music Director in 2004. Maestro Solzhenitsyn, in assuming the position of Conductor Laureate in 2010, remains closely associated with the Chamber Orchestra. A conductor and composer of international acclaim, Maestro Dirk Brossé now enters his seventh season as Music Director of The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. In the 2016-2017 season, the Orchestra will perform six programs from October through May in the Kimmel Center’s intimate, 600-seat Perelman Theater.

Over the course of the ensemble’s rich and diverse history, COP has performed with such internationally acclaimed guest artists as Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Rudolph Serkin, The Eroica Trio, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Romero Guitar Quartet, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Ben Folds, Branford Marsalis, Elvis Costello, Sylvia McNair, Steven Isserlis, Joseph Silverstein, Ransom Wilson, Gerard Schwarz, Jahja Ling, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, among others. The ensemble travels regularly, having toured the United States, Europe, and Israel.


Sir Dirk Brossé, born in Ghent, Belgium in 1960, is a multi-faceted composer and a respected conductor on the international music scene. He is currently Music Director of The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Music Director of the Film Festival Ghent and Music Director and principal conductor of the Star Wars In Concert World Tour.

Brossé began his music studies at the Music Conservatories of Ghent. He subsequently specialized in conducting, which he studied in Maastricht, Vienna and Cologne. He is currently Professor of Composition and Conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Ghent. Dirk Brossé has conducted all the leading Belgian orchestras, among them, the Brussels Philharmonic, the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Flemish Opera and the National Orchestra of Belgium. Outside his native Belgium, he has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London, l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Shanghai, the Vancouver Opera, the KBS Symphony Orchestra of South Korea, l’ Orchestra de l’Opéra de Lyon, the World Symphony Orchestra (Japan), the Ulster Symphony Orchestra of Northern Ireland, the Liverpool Philharmonic, the RTE Orchestra Dublin, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Porto Philharmonic, the Queensland Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata St. Petersburg, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Noord Nederlands Orkest, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Orchestras of Venezuela and Ecuador.

Dirk Brossé is a versatile and prolific composer. He has written over 400 works, including concerti, oratorios, lieder, chamber music and symphonic works that have been performed all over the world and have been recorded in more than 40 countries. Among his most performed works are La Soledad de América Latina, written in collaboration with the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Artesia, a universal symphony for orchestra and ethnic instruments, the ethno-classical symphony The Birth of Music; the oratorio Juanelo; the lieder cycles Landuyt Cycle and La vida es un Sueño, the War Concerto for clarinet and orchestra; and the violin concertos Black, White & Between, Sophia and Echoes of Silent Voices.

He has also composed extensively for cinema, television and stage. His film soundtracks include Boerenpsalm, Daens (Academy Award Nominee, 1993), Koko Flanel, Back to Utopia, Licht, Stijn Coninx’s de Kavijaks, Marian Handwerker’s Marie, Martin Koolhoven’s Knetter, Roland Joffé’s The Lovers, Jaques Feyder’s 1925 silent film Visages d’Enfants, and Knielen op een bed violen (Golden Calf Nominee, 2016). His score for the BBC/HBO series Parade’s End starring Benedict Cumberbatch was nominated for an Emmy Award. He wrote the scores for the musicals Sacco & Vanzetti, Ben X, The Prince of Africa, Tintin — The Temple of the Sun (based on Hergé’s world-famous cartoon character Tintin), Rembrandt the Musical, 14-18 the musical, Pauline & Paulette and Musical Daens each time in close collaboration with stage director Frank Van Laecke.

In 2007, Dirk Brossé made his debut in the Royal Albert Hall, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in A Night of Music from the Movies, featuring the music of Patrick Doyle, with guest appearances by renowned actors Emma Thompson, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Kenneth Branagh.

In 2010, at the request of the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, he wrote The Hallow-e’en Dances. This Halloween-inspired work was especially written for traditional Chinese instruments. He recently composed Haiku Cycle 1, for Jessye Norman and based on Haiku by Herman Van Rompuy, former President of the European Union.

In 2016, he made his debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York, conducting his violin concerto Black, White & In Between with the Chamber Orchestra of New York.

Dirk Brossé has made more than 80 CD recordings and has conducted in numerous world-famous concert halls, such as the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Opera La Monnaie in Brussels, the Victoria Hall in Geneva, the Seoul Arts Center, the Tokyo Forum, and the Concert Hall Shanghai. He has collaborated with world-class artists such as José Van Dam, Philip Webb, Barbara Hendricks, Claron McFadden, Julia Migenes, Derek Lee Ragin, Sabine Meyer, Julian Lloyd Webber, Daniel Blumenthal, and Salvatore Accardo. On a broader musical platform, he has performed with John Williams, Toots Thielemans, Hans Zimmer, Elmer Bernstein, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Randy Crawford, Lisa Gerrard, Mel Brooks, Maurane, Sinead O’ Connor, Viktor Lazlo, Maurice Jarre, and Youssou N’Dour.

Dirk Brossé has been awarded the title Cultural Ambassador of Flanders, the Flemish Parliament’s Gold Medal for Merit, the Achille Van Acker Prize, the Joseph Plateau Honorary Award, and the Global Thinkers Forum Award for Excellence in Cultural Creativity. In 2010, Dirk Brossé was made an honorary citizen of Destelbergen. In 2013, he was elevated to Belgium’s hereditary nobility, with the personal title of Sir. In late 2010, EMI Classics released the 6 CD Box-Set Dirk Brossé, A Portrait in Music. The documentary Brossé, a destiny in Music by Jacques Servaes received international acclaim. Since 2016, Dirk Brossé is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.

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