What's on my desk today…

I’m very excited to be starting my new position as music director of the Belgian National Orchestra. I first conducted this orchestra in 2010 and our relationship deepened each time since. I am so impressed with the musicians’ enthusiasm and commitment and believe we can make a real impact in a rapidly changing musical landscape. Belgium and Brussels are at the heart of the European Union, whose very existence is premised on cooperation among different cultures. The survival and the success of this endeavor have never been more important. The arts - and music in particular - have a critical role to play and I’m excited to be part of that.

Right now, the score to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony is on my desk.  From a man who had lost an infant daughter to illness two years earlier and had just been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart defect, the symphony’s epic struggle to accept the inevitability of death is profoundly moving.  No symphony had ever crossed that threshold quite so bravely: the final page of ineffably soft fragmented melody so transcendent and calm.  It’s a privilege to perform it. 

The new year will begin with concerts in Belgium and have a special focus on both Claude Debussy (the centennial of his death) and Leonard Bernstein (the centennial of his birth).


Recent Press

"Mr. Wolff and his young charges closed the concert with a bang-up performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. The Presto finale, with the young players reveling in the thrill of collective virtuosity, was sheer joy." - The New York Times

"Wolff's Shostakovich 10 was powerful, three-dimensional and devastating, and the Atlanta Symphony blossomed by his approach. Much of the opening movement builds to an unbearable tension. Wolff paced it tautly and meaningfully, with understated authority. When the music finally crossed that emotional threshold and plummeted into some dark netherworld of a broken psyche, Wolff did not, would not, relent... Credit Wolff with delivering the crucial essence of a harrowing masterpiece of the 20th century."

"Conductor Hugh Wolff presided over one of the Utah Symphony’s most high-spirited programs of the season on Friday. From Beethoven’s ever-popular “Leonore” Overture No. 3 to Saint-Saëns’ playful Cello Concerto No. 1 to Charles Ives’ invigorating Symphony No. 2, the concert was a sheer delight."

"Under Wolff's careful guidance, the [Minnesota] orchestra gave this music [Adès] the sort of wham-bam-socko performance it needs. Wolff, the former music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, is a gifted conductor who should be seen here more often."

"The evening's strength was the conductor, Hugh Wolff, an urbane host who without undue Sturm und Drang made Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony, the composer's third, an absolute delight."

Click here to read the full review from the Washington Post