Cairo Symphony Orchestra
The standing ovations with which the concerts of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra were met in both great halls of the Vienna Musikverein and Salzburg Mozarteum during its tour to Austria in May 2017, reaffirm the important role of the Orchestra as an eminent and unique cultural ambassador of Egypt, on the one hand, as well as its contribution as an important participant in enriching the serious music scene in Egypt. The Orchestra was founded in 1959 by the great Egyptian Renaissance man, Dr. Tharwat Okasha, during his tenure as Minister of Culture. Its first Principal Conductor Franz Litschauer was commissioned to develop its foregoing Egyptian Broadcasting Orchestra to a real symphony orchestra.
Since 1990, the Orchestra under its Music Director Maestro Ahmed El Saedi has succeeded in reaching new horizons on both the public and artistic levels.
Works by Bruckner, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Bartók, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Roussel and Messiaen have become an integral part of the Orchestra’s basic repertoire. Since the integration of A Cappella Choir into the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, both have performed together major works for chorus and orchestra. Performances of Handel’s “Messiah”, Mozart’s “Requiem”, Verdi’s “Requiem”, Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis”, Ninth Symphony and Mass in C major, Brahms’ “German Requiem”, Dvořák’s “Stabat Mater”, Mahler’s Second Symphony, Haydn’s “The Creation” and Szymanowski’s “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” were the result of this cooperation.
The Cairo Symphony Orchestra, as part of its mission towards audience with no previous profound exposure to classical music heritage, also performs concerts dedicated to musical education and appreciation. These concerts are scheduled in two separate series under the title “School and Family Concerts”.
The Cairo Symphony Orchestra has been conducted by many international guest conductors such as Charles Munch, Carlo Zecchi, Ottokar Truhlik, Ole Schmidt, Yehudi Menuhin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Janos Kukla, Patrick Fournillier, Daniel Barenboim and others.
Among the soloists who have performed with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra are Rudolf Buchbinder, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Joerg Demus, Ramzi Yassa, André Navarra, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Stefan Vladar, Christian Altenburger, Christiana Ortiz, Anastasia Chebotareva and Daniel Barenboim. The Orchestra under its Music Director, Ahmed El Saedi has released recordings of Beethoven’s five piano concertos and the “Choral Fantasy” featuring Ramzi Yassa as piano soloist and is about to release the complete nine symphonies on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the great composer.
The Cairo Symphony Orchestra has regularly toured many European countries with great success. His last performances at the Vienna Musikverein, Salzburg Mozarteum and Berlin Konzerthaus were met with tremendous ovations. Principal conductors of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra since its residency at the Cairo Opera House in 1991 include Ahmed El Saedi (1991-2003), Sergio Cárdenas (2003-2004), Christophe Mueller (2004-2005), Steven Lloyd (2005-2007), Andreas Spörri (2007-2008), Marcello Mottadelli (2008-2011) and Jiří Petrdlík (2012-2014).
Dr. Inès Abdel Daïm, the ex-Minister of Culture, former Chairman of the Cairo Opera House and Principal Flutist, was the Orchestra Director from 2003 till 2011.
Ahmed El Saedi
Principle Conductor & Artistic Director
Maestro Ahmed El Saedi is the main founder and chairman of the Egyptian Philharmonic Society, which, since 2004, has become a serious platform for presenting standard chamber orchestra repertoire in addition to masterpieces of chamber music performed by Egyptian and international musicians on a higher musical caliber.
He has studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna with Othmar Suitner (conducting), Friedrich Cerha (composition) and Franz Eibner (theories of Heinrich Schenker).
He has also studied conducting and musical phenomenology with Sergiu Celebidache in Germany. El Saedi’s international debut took place, in 1982, conducting the Slovakian Chamber Orchestra Zilina at the Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna. Since then, he has collaborated as a guest conductor with over fifty orchestras and opera companies all over the world, including the Prague Chamber Soloists, the Suk Chamber Orchestra (Prague), the Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (Vilnius), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London), the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra (USA), the Györ Philharmonic (Hungary), the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra da Camera Milano Classica (Milan), the Orchestra da Camera Florentina (Florence), L'Orchestre de la Société Philharmonique de Montréal (Canada), the Sofia National Opera (Bulgaria), and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro El Saedi has performed in many prestigious halls, such as the Wiener Konzerthaus, Musikverein Wien, Österreichischer Rundfunk Grosser Saal, Berlin Philharmonic, Liederhalle (Stuttgart), Ötkerhalle (Bielefeld), Kieler Schloss (Kiel), the Ateneul Roman (Bucharest), the Rodolfinum (Prague), the Place des Arts Théâtre Maisonneuve (Montréal) and the Royal Opera House Muscat.
Moreover, his participation in festivals such as the Festival Lyrique de Saint-Céré (France), Nuits Musicales du Suquet (Cannes, France), Zagreb Summer Festival (Croatia) and the Plovdiv Verdi Festival (Bulgaria) has been met with standing ovations. He has also collaborated with many outstanding soloists such as: Markus Schirmer, Nikolai Petrov, Christina Ortiz, Stefan Vladar, Hüseyin Sermet, Naum Shtarkman, Abdel-Rahman El Basha, Kjell Bakkelund, Christian Altenburger, Anastasia Tchebotoreva, Franco Maggio Ormezowski, Paul Meyer, Laura Mikkola etc...
El Saedi’s perspective engagements include the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Omani Symphony Orchestra, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Cairo Opera Orchestra, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, the Egyptian Sinfonietta and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
His permanent engagements have included the Wiener Virtuosen Chamber Orchestra (1986-1988), The Egyptian Chamber Orchestra (1989-1995), the Cairo Symphony Orchestra (1991-2003) and since 2003, the newly founded Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. He was also the founder and mentor of the Cairo International Workshop for Orchestral Conducting (2001 & 2002), of the Arabic Perspectives Festival of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra (2002), and the artistic director of the Cairo Music Competition (2004-2010). Also, he was the mentor of the Workshop for Perspective Band Conductors in Bahrain (2007).
Maestro El Saedi’s discography includes Alexander Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto in E-flat Major, Op. 109 (1931), the Piano Concerto (1959) and Intermezzo from the opera Anas Al-Wugud (1966) by the Egyptian composer Aziz El Shawan (1916-1993), concertos for double bass and orchestra by Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889), Giuseppe Antonio Capuzzi (1755-1818) and Giovanni Battista Cimador (1761-1805) with soloist Gerd Reinke, Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies, five piano concertos and Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, featuring Egyptian pianist Ramzi Yassa as soloist.
El Saedi’s compositions, which have been performed internationally with great success, include works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, chamber music ensembles, voice and works for the media. His achievements have been recognized in a broad range of awards including the Villa-Lobos Centennial Medal from the State of Brazil (1988), the State Prize for Composition (1995) and the State Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts (2000) from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, and the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art (2004). His recent appearances include a tour to Berlin and Dresden with BA Chamber Orchestra and conducting of the premiere of Mozart’s complete version of “Così Fan Tutte” at the Cairo Opera House.
Maestro Ahmed El Saedi is the Chairman of the Egyptian Philharmonic Society, which, since 2004, has become a serious platform for presenting musical activities of international caliber. He is also the chairman of the Pro Classica Tonkunst Verein in Vienna, Austria since 2012. Maestro Ahmed El Saedi has been recently nominated as board member of the Cairo Opera House to be the only performing artist to fill such a position.