Season presentation

A year of handing over the baton for the Youth Orchestra of France (OFJ)

2024 marks the final year of Danish conductor Michael Schønwandt’s musical leadership at the helm of the OFJ. It is also a year of transition with Estonian conductor Kristiina Poska, who will succeed him in 2025 while already taking on several projects in the current season.

This “smooth” transition reflects Michael Schønwandt’s commitment, as he has successfully elevated the OFJ to new heights, guiding young musicians with exceptional kindness and demands over the past four years.

Béla Bartók will be the true focal point in this special year. Michael Schønwandt concludes his mandate in December with Bartók’s visionary and testamentary work, the Concerto for Orchestra. Then, in January 2025, the OFJ stages a scenic production under the direction of Kristiina Poska: Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. The handover from Michael Schønwandt to Kristiina Poska will be celebrated by the Berlioz Festival – Côté Saint-André, where the OFJ will be featured twice: in the opening night, presenting Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony under Michael Schønwandt’s baton, and in the closing weekend, performing Robert Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony under Kristiina Poska’s direction.

Alongside them, the OFJ welcomes legendary pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, who has also made transmission a cornerstone of her artistry. This iconic musician will accompany Michael Schønwandt and Kristiina Poska, performing two concertos with the OFJ: Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 2.

In 2024, the OFJ will leave its mark on major French and international venues: the residency in Bourgogne Franche-Comté at the Saline royale enters its second year, followed by performances in Dijon in December (December 10). The orchestra will also appear at the Opéra de Vichy (August 16), MC2 Grenoble (November 6), Philharmonie de Paris (November 11), and in Germany at the Elbphilharmonie (August 30) and the Philharmonie de Ludwigsburg (December 13).