The New Year’s Concert is a highly successful tradition of several years standing at the Palace of Arts. In 2013, we had the opportunity to hear Haydn‘s oratorio The Seasons with Helmuth Rilling, while on the first day of 2014 the work will be presented by another world-renowned conductor in the shape of René Jacobs. The steeply rising career curve of this Belgium-born Flemish conductor began in the choir of the Cathedral of Ghent, from where he initially found international fame as a countertenor, but quit his singing career in time to embark on a second one as a conductor. With more than 200 recordings under his belt, Jacobs is now regarded as an outstanding interpreter of the Baroque and Viennese classics – mainly the works of Haydn and Mozart – whose strength lies in the vitality of his performances. Each one of the conductor’s records is preceded by enormous expectation, routinely garnering awards in recognition of his practice of approaching familiar works – be it a Bach motet, Mozart opera or Haydn oratorio – from a completely new angle. Jacobs’ secret perhaps lies in his background as a singer: As a conductor of vocal works, he pays special attention to the voices; consequently, when he conducts, a wonderful harmony exists between orchestra and soloists, and orchestra and chorus. The orchestra for this evening, playing on period instruments, is the Orfeo Orchestra founded in 1991 by György Vashegyi, while the no less important chorus will be led by Thomas Lang, a regular partner of the world’s acclaimed conductors as chorusmaster of the Vienna State Opera. In Haydn’s eternally beautiful, entertainingly witty but still profound oratorio, we will hear two of Jacobs’ established solo singers alongside Szabolcs Brickner, a young Hungarian artist now embarking on his own international career.