European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO) – Constellatio Felix: Sun, stars & planets (Live from AMUZ, Antwerpen, 28-11-2018)


The programme takes its inspiration from the 300th anniversary of one of the most magnificent Baroque spectacles ever staged: The Festival of the Planets (Constellatio Felix) celebrations organised by King Augustus II the Strong in Dresden in 1719 to mark his son Frederich Augustus III’s marriage to Archduchess Maria of Hapsburg. Constellatio Felix featured operas, balls and concerts, and we know that composers like Handel, Telemann, Heinichen, Lotti and Zelenka participated in the month-long festival in honour of the planets. The works in the programme tie in with this theme, and focus on the sun (Lully’s Phaeton), the stars (Muffat’s Concerto Grosso Propitia Sydera, or Lucky Stars) and planets (Rameau’s Entrées for Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, which were written later but very much on the same theme).

The European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO) is like no other orchestra: its modus operandi since its foundation in 1985 has been to audition and select new personnel annually. EUBO’s ephemeral existence makes its concerts special: live performances enjoying all the technical accomplishment of the best young baroque musicians in Europe, allied to an infectious undimmed sense of discovery and enjoyment. “The skilful playing of this extraordinary pan-European orchestra… augurs well for the future of Baroque music-making in Europe.” (International Record Review, 2014) Members of EUBO come from all over the European Union to gain performing experience, working together under the inspirational leadership of Music Director Lars Ulrik Mortensen and some of the world’s finest Baroque musicians. Ton Koopman, Margaret Faultless, Enrico Onofri, Rachel Podger, Riccardo Minasi, Paul Agnew, Gottfried von der Goltz and Stefano Montanari have all been guest directors in recent seasons.

Tours take the talented young orchestra to all corners of Europe − from celebrated city concert halls, to seaside summer festivals, to monasteries nestling in autumnal forests, and to winter celebrations in beautiful churches. And at the centre of these great arcs of European travelling EUBO has established residencies in several cities, most notably as “orchestra-in-residence” in Echternach, Luxembourg, where, with the support of its local partners, it is creating a centre of excellence for Baroque music. Over the years EUBO has recorded several CDs, the last four under the direction of Lars Ulrik Mortensen. The CD release Peace & Celebration, featuring choral and orchestral works by Handel, was recorded live in concert in Londonwith the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, in September 2013. Gramophone magazine praised “the refreshing spontaneity of this live recording. The rapturous dialogue of Mortensen and his youthful crew…put some more experienced Baroque bands to shame.” EUBO’s recording Pure Handel with soprano Maria Keohane was shortlisted for the 2014 Gramophone Awards: “a generous celebration of this estimable organisation’s (EUBO) continuing high achievement. These are live-wire performances, technically excellent and propelled with exactly the right degree of driving energy…” (Gramophone, August 2014).

Between 2015 and 2018, the activities of EUBO are an integral part of EUBO Mobile Baroque Academy, a Creative Europe co-operation project, co-funded by the European Union and organised by EUBO and its nine partners. The orchestra has been honoured with the status of Cultural Ambassador for the European Union in perpetuity. Flying the flag for Europe, “EUBO is” as former EC President Barroso says, “a perfect symbol of the power of integration, a subtle and potent instrument of harmonisation between people and nations”.

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