Les AMIS de l’OPL: past and current facts, new approaches

Short historical overview

The association was established in 1987 under the name of ‘Les AMIS de l’Orchestre Symphonique de RTL’.
The two objectives laid down in the statutes were:

   - to promote symphonic music in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
   - to support the activities of the RTL orchestra

Why this emphasis on ‘symphonic music’? The explanation is that at the time, there were talks around town that RTL or more precisely their parent company CLT was considering reducing the financial burden of the orchestra by changing its structure from a fully-fledged symphony orchestra to a chamber orchestra or a chamber philharmonic orchestra of its own.
The founding members of the association wanted to give their full support to those, especially at political level, who held the opinion that Luxembourg should have a permanent symphony orchestra.

Those stormy times for the orchestra came to an end in 1996  when the Luxembourg government took over the orchestra, changed its name into ‘Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg’ and placed it under the authority of a specific legal entity ‘, the Fondation Henri Pensis’  named after  the founder and first musical director of the orchestra.
The ‘AMIS’ contributed  with 3 million Lux Francs to the starting capital of the foundation.
The statutes of the AMIS were adjusted that same year to take into account the new name of the orchestra.

A further very significant step for the orchestra took place at the beginning of 2012 when  the OPL and the public establishment ‘Salle de Concerts Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte’  (the Philharmonie) merged.  This new entity created new opportunities not only for the orchestra itself, but also for the ‘AMIS’ .

Current activities of the AMIS

Around 1990/1991, the AMIS arranged a series of chamber music concerts given by the musicians of the then RTL orchestra. These concerts were scheduled in the evenings. In 2003, after a lull of several years, the AMIS, with the cooperation of the OPL musicians, relaunched the chamber music concert series, but scheduling them at 11.00 a.m. on Sundays, under the name of ‘Concerts-Apéritif’ – an appellation reflecting the concept where, after the concerts, the audience is offered a drink as well as the opportunity to meet with and talk to the musicians and fellow music lovers.

The programs and the set-ups of these concerts are selected from a list of proposals submitted by the musicians themselves for each orchestral season with the aim of providing a wide variety of both lesser and better known pieces. Over the years, the musicians have been very successful in their endeavor to come up with programmes comprising rarely performed works, little known composers and last but not least, pieces written for unconventional ensembles, thus ensuring that the concerts stand out from the usual chamber music fare.
Interestingly, in recent years, we have, together with the musicians, received requests from municipal or private organizations throughout the country to repeat concerts in locations ranging from churches to castles, theaters, parks and other local facilities. In most cases the musicians were  happy to oblige.

Another well-established and very popular initiative of the AMIS are the ‘voyages d’accompagnement’  where trips are organized for members offering them  the opportunity to travel to remarkable towns and attend performances given by the OPL when they are on tour outside of the Grand-Duchy. The very first  of these trips was organized in 1988 to the Belgian town of Namur where the then RTL orchestra participated in the performance of Mahler’s 8th symphony, together with their counterpart of the Belgian RTBF  and of course 600 chorus singers, under the overall direction of the Luxembourgish conductor Pierre CAO.
In recent years, trips included towns like New York, London, Paris, Tallinn, Zurich, Budapest, Vienna, Amsterdam, Naples, Prague, Wiesbaden, Geneva, St. Petersburg and Munich.

Following the merger of OPL and the Philharmonie in 2012, the newly appointed general management was kind enough to accept our long standing request to grant members of our association free access to three or four rehearsals (répétitions publiques) of the OPL, be they under the direction of its permanent chief conductor or a guest conductor. Members are individually informed in due time and by mail about the exact time schedule of these rehearsals as well as their respective programmes.

From the outset, the board of the AMIS de l’OPL has firmly believed that their support for symphonic (and chamber music) in Luxembourg should also entail support to Luxembourgish composers, in as far as the rather limited financial means of the organization could be made available for this kind of initiative. The following works have so far been commissioned or co-commissioned by the AMIS:

1993 Alexander Müllenbach: Flugsand
1997 Claude Lenners : Nachtschattengesänge
1999 Alexander Müllenbach : Dark Crystal
2007 Alexander Müllenbach : Opal
2014 Camille Kerger : Fließen, Zerfließen, Klavierquintett (to be created in 2016)

In the future

In 2013, the board of our association took the decision to broaden the scope of its activities by including areas like the financing of instruments for the orchestra, granting financial assistance to OPL musicians for advanced training courses and participating financially or by other means in initiatives intended to enable young musicians to train for a career as an orchestra player.
However, this broadening of our palette of activities requests a fundamental change in our approach to collecting money from donors or sponsors since we need to be able to make these grants “tax deductible”. This requires a special statute, called ‘utilité publique’ for our association. The procedures imposed by the Luxembourgish legislation to file a corresponding request with the authorities have been fulfilled and we are expecting the answer from the competent authority within a short time.

Means of communication of the AMIS

  • for ‘general purpose information’, we use ‘La dépêche des AMIS’ published in German and  French, without a fixed schedule, but when the need for a publication arises
  • for the public rehearsals, members receive an individual invitation
  • the same applies to invitations for the ‘voyages d’accompagnement’ and of course the annual general meeting and the extraordinary general meetings.
  • an internet site of the AMIS is scheduled to go-live’ in January 2016. It will assume an ever increasing role in the communication with the members. However, we are aware of the fact that not all our members are adequately familiar with this medium, thus we will continue relying on a printed form for some time to come.

Members of the board

Pierre Thielen, chairman
Barbara Geiser, vice-chairman
Diana Degano, treasurer  

Members: Mario Cortolezzis, Marie-An Dehullu, Jean-Marie Gieres, Arend Herold, Uli Loersch, Aloyse Maes, Jean-Claude May, René Meyer, René Reimen, Jean-Pierre Wagener, Josette Welter.

Fabienne Welter, musicians’ representative

The board may be reached via the following channels:

Phone   +352 20 600 413

E-mail    info@amisopl.lu

Postal address : AMIS de l’OPL   B.P. 1027  L-2739 Luxembourg