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How Rolex is pursuing excellence through music

Rolex’s unyielding support for music in the last 50 years reaffirms its long-term commitment to fostering artistic excellence and developing global culture.

The perpetual pursuit of excellence underpins every aspect of Rolex’s activities, from watchmaking to its choice of partnerships. This commitment to relentlessly strive to reach the pinnacle of performance is what drives the Swiss manufacture to support individuals and organisations across varied genres encompassing arts and culture, sports and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.

The Vienna Philharmonic performing at the New Year’s Concert sponsored by Rolex
The Vienna Philharmonic performing at the New Year’s Concert sponsored by Rolex

Advocating excellence in the arts for over five decades, Rolex has partnered with some of the world’s most esteemed artistes and leading cultural institutions to help perpetuate artistic heritage – bridging the past, present and future. While the initial focus was on promoting the best in music, Rolex’s cultural embrace now extends to other art forms. This includes architecture, with its support of the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, as well as cinema in its partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2002, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative mentoring programme was created to assist in the transmission of artistic knowledge to new generations. Since then, dozens of promising artistes have flourished under the guidance of eminent mentors in architecture, dance, film, literature, theatre, visual arts and music.

Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the first Rolex Testimonee in music since 1976
Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the first Rolex Testimonee in music since 1976

Embracing the Arts

Long-standing partnerships with Rolex Testimonees – hailing from the entire musical spectrum from opera and classical, to jazz and world music – have been fostered, supporting ventures that buoy rising young artistes such as singers, conductors and instrumentalists.

In 1976, world-renowned soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa from New Zealand became the first musical artiste to represent Rolex as a Testimonee. Among the celebrated artistes who have joined her over the years are Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, English-Italian conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, classical pianist Yuja Wang from China, Canadian singer and Grammy Award-winner Michael Bublé, sitarist Anoushka Shankar, and more.

Rolex Testimonee, tenor Rolando Villazón from Mexico
Rolex Testimonee, tenor Rolando Villazón from Mexico

So devout is Rolex’s commitment to artistic development and encouraging exceptional performance that it launched an ambitious initiative to support musicians and singers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Not only did the project enable artistes to continue with their art, it was also testament to Rolex’s tireless dedication to ensure that music continues to endure as an integral part of everyday life.

From August 2020 and continuing through to early September that year, three Rolex Perpetual Music concerts took place in Italy, Germany and France. One of three Rolex Testimonees who supported the project from the start – Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez, Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, as well as Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva  – each hosted a concert, prepared the repertoire with singers and musicians, and performed solo or in various ensembles. Also joining the proceedings in Paris was French violinist Renaud Capuçon, who was involved in organising the initiative.

Pianist and Rolex Testimonee Yuja Wang
Pianist and Rolex Testimonee Yuja Wang

The concerts involved no less than 100 artistes, whose work and lives had been adversely affected by the global health crisis. The incredible programme reached hundreds of thousands of music lovers across 180 countries through a free streaming service that was available on the medici.tv platform until the end of October that year.

Explained Arnaud Boetsch, Rolex’s director of Communication and Image: “By broadcasting the concerts via medici.tv, a Rolex partner for over a decade, the artistes supported in this project will benefit from worldwide visibility. Significantly, this gift of time and exposure is in keeping with the company’s pursuit of excellence and its long-term commitment to foster the work of those who aim to reach the pinnacle of their profession. Last but not least, within the context of these unprecedented circumstances, this project is also a way for us to help keep music as an essential element in our daily lives.”

The impressive interior of London’s Royal Opera House
The impressive interior of London’s Royal Opera House

Beyond championing individual talent, Rolex also partners with orchestras, concerts, as well as many of the foremost cultural institutions from around the world. These include Italy’s leading operatic house Teatro alla Scala in Milan; the magnificent Royal Opera House in London; one of the oldest of its kind in the world, the Opéra National de Paris; New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the largest classical music organisation in North America; and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing.

Music Highlights in 2023

The Royal Opera House’s<br>magnificent facade
The Royal Opera House’s
magnificent facade

Additionally, Rolex has been linked with the incomparable Vienna Philharmonic, a beacon of classical music that’s acclaimed for its New Year’s Concert and the open-air Summer Night Concert, where up to 100,000 people gather at Vienna’s Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn every May or June. Rolex has been the Exclusive Partner of the renowned orchestra since 2008, while serving as the Exclusive Sponsor of the New Year’s Concert since 2009.

This year, Rolex once again sponsored the annual Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert. Taking place on the morning of Jan 1 in the Golden Hall of the famous Musikverein in Vienna, the performance was live-streamed and broadcast in over 90 countries, allowing millions of television viewers access to it.

The grand facade of Opéra National de Paris
The grand facade of Opéra National de Paris

The event was presented under the baton of Maestro Franz Welser-Möst. Following 2011 and 2013, it was the third time that the Austrian conductor has taken the podium for this prestigious concert. And in keeping with long-standing Philharmonic tradition, the 83rd edition of the New Year’s Concert offered a programme featuring music from the vast repertoire of Johann Strauss, his family and contemporaries.

Following the unforgettable New Year’s performance will be a series of Rolex-sponsored concerts throughout the year, which began with a Mahler programme conducted by Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons on Jan 21 at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. In addition to the Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert in June, there will be concerts in Prague in September and Japan in November.

This story first appeared in the Feb 2023 issue of Prestige Singapore.

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