Legendary conductor Zubin Mehta was met with a standing ovation that lasted for fifteen minutes following the Gala concert of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra on June 20, 2023. The concert that took place at the Kolarac Concert Hall marked the orchestra’s centennial. This performance not only entered the annals of the Belgrade Philharmonic’s history, but also marked the opening of the Orchestra’s inaugural regional tour, alongside Mehta, which will continue in Tirana and Skopje as part of the Open Balkans initiative.

As Zubin Mehta, one of the greatest conductors of all time, stepped onto the Kolarac stage, he was greeted with resounding applause. The renowned maestro, along with the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, received a fifteen-minute standing ovation, marking the culmination of this momentous event. The concert program featured two symphonic masterpieces: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, both of which were part of Zubin Mehta’s first performance with the Belgrade Philharmonic back in 1958.

The celebration of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra’s centennial was filled with a truly unique atmosphere, shared with their dearest friend, an 87-year-old maestro who has cherished a special and sentimental bond with the Orchestra for sixty-five years. This centennial concert marked Zubin Mehta’s eleventh performance with the BPO, during which, according to him, the Belgrade Philharmonic has grown to be one of the Europe’s foremost orchestras. The Gala concert served as a prestigious musical event that marked the beginning of their collaborative regional tour, which will also grace the stages of the National Theatre, Opera, and Ballet in Tirana on June 22, followed by the Macedonian Philharmonic on June 24.

Throughout the days of Mehta’s collaboration with the orchestra, a remarkable ambiance prevailed on the rehearsals. In addition to the four intensive practice sessions, during which Mehta dedicated himself to shaping the symphonies, he always found time to engage with the musicians. During breaks, he happily participated in photo sessions, autographed programs, and engaged in conversation with them. They fondly reminisced about all their shared performances, and the maestro gratefully accepted gifts from the Philharmonic members — a tradition that included the offering of a jar of ajvar! The musicians were captivated by the 87-year-old maestro, admiring his precise, forever-youthful conducting hands.

Zubin Mehta never failed to acknowledge the Belgrade audience as his dearest, which is why he returned to the stage three times last night after the concert’s finale. The audience rose to their feet, their applause amplified by the Philharmonic members’ distinct ovation – stomping their feet on the floor!

The event was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Serbian Government and Culture Minister Maja Gojkovic, as well as the Minister of Culture of North Macedonia, Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojcevska. Additionally, diplomats and many prominent public figures were also present.