NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich Announces Details of New Season 2017/2018

17/04/2017

The Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich in 2017/18

The Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich was founded 150 years ago and plans a season of celebratory events. This coincides with their having to move out temporarily of their home for the last 150 years, the Tonhalle building itself, which is in dire need of refurbishment and modernisation, particularly the backstage and foyer areas. The works will take a full three years and in that period most of their Zurich concerts will take place in a newly constructed hall within an existing industrial building (the ‘Maaghalle’) in the northern part of the city. Management will do its utmost to ensure its existing (often elderly, conservative and not especially discerning) audience makes the trek to a part of the city hitherto possibly unknown to them and less easy to access than the Tonhalle building by the lake and in the centre of the city. It hopes however that its new trendy location may attract a younger audience, who know the area for its clubs, modern art galleries and eclectic shops. Time will tell, but already two thirds of the subscriptions have been sold even before the programme was announced – now what does that tell you about Zurich’s concert life? Read more

NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2017 Season in its New Opera House

16/04/2017

GRANGE PARK OPERA IN 2017

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A   NEW  OPERA  HOUSE:  A   MAGICAL  SETTING  in  the  Surrey  Hills  Opening on 8 June 2017 with world-renowned tenor, Joseph Calleja, in Tosca.

On 8 June 2017, the curtain will rise  on a  brand  new  horseshoe  shaped  opera  house  –  the first in the UK in decades. Grange Park Opera, one of Europe’s leading opera festivals, will open The Theatre in the Woods – and the 2017 season – at West Horsley Place, a 350-acre estate in Surrey, inherited in 2014 by author Bamber Gascoigne from his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe. Read more

NEW! PIANIST KIRILL GERSTEIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN

07/04/2017

Kirill Gerstein talks to Geoffrey Newman

Kirill Gerstein © Marco Borggreve

Kirill Gerstein © Marco Borggreve

Kirill Gerstein has become an increasingly esteemed visitor to North American and European concert halls, moving quite a distance from his original Gilmore Young Artist’s Award in 2002, his debut recording for Oehms Classics, and the initial intrigue over his jazz training. Gerstein was awarded the coveted Gilmore Artist Award in 2010 and subsequently produced an enviable string of CD’s for the German company Myrios, virtually all of which have received strong acclaim. These include the Brahms Viola Sonatas with Tabea Zimmermann, the 1879 version of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto, the Liszt Sonata, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. His recording of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes has just been released. Read more

NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season

07/04/2017

Season 2017/18 at the Royal Opera House

ROHThe Royal Opera House’s annual announcement of its coming season brought presentations from all the Garden’s big guns. This was the first time a presentation had been given by Oliver Mears, the new Director of Opera (although given the long planning involved in these things, he was reticent to give a date at which his own stamp will be evident). Chief Executive Alex Beard was there, as was Sir Antonio Pappano, Deborah MacMillan (widow of Kenneth MacMillan), Kevin O’Hare (Director of The Royal Ballet) and Sarah Crabtree (senior producer).

The 2017/18 season is an exciting one, ranging from the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence (on the back of the success of Written on Skin and again with Martin Crimp as writer and Katie Mitchell as director; May 2018) through new productions of Lohengrin and Semiramide – and Carmen and Bohème – to the exciting announcement of a staging of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead.

The season opens with that new Bohème, Pappano in the driving seat and Richard Jones directing. The cast includes Nicole Car as Mimì and Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo (September/October 2017; and in June 2018 with Nicola Luisotti conducting and Matthew Polenzani as Rodolfo). Pappano also conducts Rossini’s Semiramide. That’s an exciting prospect given the success of the Proms performance in the not too distant past: here it will be directed by David Alden and with such powerhouse names as Joyce DiDonato and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo. (November/December 2017). Pappano also leads Verdi’s Macbeth in March/April 2018. The director will be Phyllida Lloyd and, if she shows, Lady Macbeth will be taken by Anna Netrebko. This superstar’s propensity for cancelling was tackled in the questions from the assembled press following her recent cancellation in Norma here at the Garden; her voice is “in transition” apparently. D’Arcangelo also stars (Banquo) with the man himself being sung by Željko Lučić. More Pappano still: Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, directed by Richard Jones and starring Eva-Maria Westbroek as Katerina Ismailova. John Tomlinson appears as Boris Ismailov.

Perhaps the Verdi Les vêpres siciliennes was glossed over a little in the exposition, especially given that it is conducted by the massively experienced man-of-the-pit, Maurizio Benini. The cast includes Malin Byström, Bryan Hymel and Michael Volle; the director is Stefan Herheim (October/November 2017).

It is that From the House of the Dead (March 2018) that has my pulse racing. The cast includes Willard W. White; the conductor is Teodor Currentzis and the director is Krysztof Warikoeski. Even more exciting is that this inaugurates a six-year Janáček cycle.

The new Carmen (February/March 2018), excitingly, is conducted by Jakub Hrůša in a fresh, “highly physical” production by Barrie Kosky. The cast includes Anna Goryachova and Kostas Smorginas (Escamilio) with Francesco Meli and Andrea Carè sharing the role of Don José. Complementing this is the work of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at Wilton Music Hall, with La Tragédie de Carmen (Southbank Sinfonia, November 2017).

A new Lohengrin will satisfy Wagnerians to an extent. It will be conducted by Andris Nelsons with Klaus Florian Vogt as Lohengrin, Kristine Opolais as Elsa and Christine Goeke as Ortrud. Producer David Alden returns after a break. But wait … on the horizon (September and November 2018) comes a Ring cycle conducted by Pappano. The cast includes Nina Stemme, Emily Magee and Ain Anger. Full details to be announced, one assumes.

And there’s to be a world premiere of some Donizetti. A mere 178 years after it was completed, Mark Elder gives the first performance, in a concert rendition, of L’Ange de Nisida with Joyce El-Khoury as Sylvia and David Junghoon Kim as Leone de Casaldi. (July 2018.)

Old friends are here as well: the McVicar Zauberflöte (September/October 2017, cast including Roderick Williams as Papageno); a more recent friend in the revival of Katie Mitchell’s Donizetti Lucia (Lisette Oropesa as Lucia, October/November 2017). There will be Cav and Pag conducted by Daniel Oren with the exciting announcement that Santuzza will be taken in December by Elina Garanča. Nedda in Pag will be Carmen Giannattasio, with Simon Keenlyside as Tonio. Another McVicar production, Rigoletto, straddles the turn of the year with Hvorostovsky in the title role. Gilda will be shared between Sofia Fomina and Lucy Crowe; more McVicar still with Salome (Swedish soprano Malin Byström in the title role, January 2018).

That perennial success, Jonathan Kent’s Tosca, returns in January/February 2018 with quite a trio of high-flyers: Adrienne Pieczonka, Angela Gheorghiu and Martina Serafin in the title role. The Cavaradossis are Joseph Calleja, Riccardo Massi and Massimo Giordano; intriguingly, Gerald Finley will be Scarpia.   Another crowd-puller is Don Giovanni, here conducted by Minkowski, directed by Kasper Holten and with Mariusz Kwiecień as the Don. Nocola Luisotti conducts Falstaff directed by Robert Carsen with Bryn Terfel as Sir John, Anna Prohaska as Nannetta, Ana María Martínez as Alice and Simon Keenlyside as Ford.

Off-ROH activities seem very healthy, with the another world premiere: Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Coraline (Barbican Theatre, libretto after Neil Gaiman conducted by Sian Edwards). Il ritorno d’Ulysse in patria is at the Roundhouse (January 2018). Another world premiere features a new work, Mamzer Bastard, by Na’ama Zisser, Guildhall School of Music & Drama/Royal Opera Doctoral Composer in Residence. At Printworks, London there is the world premiere of a new work by Tansy Davies and Nick Drake (June 2018). While Tansy Davies’ work may as yet have no name, Philip Venables’ work, while it has a name (4.48 Psychosis), currently has no home. Though this will not be a world premiere – it was done in Hammersmith in May 2016 – the presence of Sound Intermedia, who recently worked on the RFH film showing of Under the Skin, implies something special afoot.

Kevin O’Hare announced the Royal Ballet’s plans. There are five world premieres: Swan Lake (Petipa/Ivanov with additional choreography by Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett); a one-act ballet by Twyla Tharp (The Illustrated Farewell, set to Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, “Farewell”); a one-act ballet by Arthur Pita to a commissioned score by Frank Moon (on Dorothy Scarborough’s novel and silent film The Wind); a one-act ballet by Wayne McGregor (designs by noted ceramist Edmund de Waal); and a one-acter by Christopher Wheeldon, The Winter’s Tale, with designs by fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu.

A celebration of Kenneth MacMillan on the 25th anniversary of his death finds five ballet companies coming together on the Royal Opera stage for the first time (Royal Balled, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet). MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles will be staged (inspired by Hamlet) alongside Jeux and a revival of Manon. The Leonard Bernstein Centenary will be celebrated via a triple-bill of one-act ballets by all three Royal Ballet associated choreographers while a triple bill Obsidian Tear/Marguerite and Armand/Elite Syncopations has music by Esa-Pekka Salonen in Obsidian Tear.

Revivals and repertory includes Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable, Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Ashton’s Sylvia and Peter Wright’s Nutcracker and Giselle. In addition, in September The Royal Ballet celebrates Hull’s contribution to ballet with a day of Swan Lake-inspired activities.

The Royal Opera remains a beacon of light, presenting a season with a brilliant mix of the new, the very new (the world premieres) and the well-loved.

Colin Clarke

NEW! In 2017 The Three Choirs Festival is from 22 to 29 July

04/04/2017

The Three Choirs Festival 2017: A Preview

3 choirs festivalThe Three Choirs Festival, which was first held in 1715 is probably the oldest music festival in the world; is there another festival that has been in existence for over 300 years? The Festival is held in turn in one of the three cathedral cities of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester. This year, by rotation, the Festival, which takes place between 22 and 29 July, will be hosted by the city of Worcester, The Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral, Peter Nardone, is Artistic Director of the Festival and he’s devised a wide-ranging programme of events. All the performances mentioned in this preview will take place in Worcester Cathedral unless otherwise stated. Read more

NEW! Glyndebourne Festival 2017: At Glyndebourne, At the Cinema and On Tour

30/03/2017

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GLYNDEBOURNE FESTIVAL 2017

CINEMA

ON SCREEN: 8 JUNE La traviata Recorded Live

Streamed via glyndebourne.com and in cinemas nationwide a recording of Tom Cairns’s 2014 production of La traviata. Featuring Michael Fabiano and Venera Gimadieva.

ON SCREEN: 6 JULY – Hamlet LIVE

Streamed live via glyndebourne.com and in cinemas nationwide: the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet, featuring a cast of some of the finest singing actors of the moment including; Allan Clayton, Sarah Connolly, Barbara Hannigan and John Tomlinson.

ON SCREEN: 3 AUGUST – La clemenza di Tito LIVE

Streamed live via glyndebourne.com and in cinemas nationwide: Glyndebourne’s new production of Mozart’s last opera.

Tickets on sale now. Visit glyndebourne.com to find a screening near you. Read more

NEW! IN MEMORIAM LOUIS FRÉMAUX (1921-2017)

28/03/2017

Louis Frémaux (13 August 1921 – 20 March 2017) – an obituary by Rob Barnett

LF As ever, the bare bones of any person’s life tell us but a small part of the individual’s story and heritage. Louis Frémaux is no different in that respect. That said we need to lay them out:
– Born in Aire-sur-la-Lys, Pas-de-Calais, France in 1921 and he studied at the Valenciennes Conservatoire.
– War service in the Resistance and then as a Foreign Legion Captain in the French armed forces in Vietnam (1945-46)
– Resumed his war-interrupted studies, this time at the Paris Conservatoire with Louis Fourestier where he took first prize in conducting in 1952.

Chief conductor engagements followed:
– Orchestre National de Monte Carlo (Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo) (1956-1965). Prince Rainier had interceded with the French authorities when Frémaux was called back to the Foreign Legion for duties in Algeria in 1956 and seemingly pulled strings to have him take over the OPMC.
– Orchestre Philharmonique Rhône-Alpes, Lyons (1968-1971)
– City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1969-1978)
– Sydney Symphony Orchestra (1979-1982)  Read more

NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra in 2017-18

21/03/2017

The Cleveland Orchestra’s 100th Season

100th season of The Cleveland Orchestra Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Franz Welser-Möst discusses the orchestra’s educational outreach programs
(c) Roger Mastroianni, courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra

How many orchestras could draw 1,200 people to their concert hall without the ensemble even taking the stage? The Cleveland Orchestra can—and did—when they announced their centenary season with a gala event at Severance Hall on Friday, March 17. Along with the news were speeches from music director Franz Welser-Möst, executive director André Gremillet, the newly appointed president Richard K. Smucker, and orchestra musicians Massimo La Rosa (principal trombone), Martha Baldwin (cello), and Joshua Smith (principal flute), and celebratory short films.

Welser-Möst pointed out the duty of all involved to continue the orchestra’s long tradition of community involvement in building toward the future. He said that in all his travels around the world, he knew of no ensemble that had a closer relationship with its community, citing the organization’s educational programs and neighborhood outreach as long-running activities that other orchestras are now emulating. He also emphasized the orchestra’s insistence on producing meaningful art, and derided flashy “popularizing” of classical music as a missed opportunity to transform a listener’s life.

Prometheus, the Greek god who brought fire to humans, will be the overarching theme of the season, and Welser-Möst cited key pieces that changed the course of western music: Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, all of which will be performed. The season will close with “The Prometheus Project,” Welser-Möst’s first full Beethoven cycle, as a two-weekend festival in May 2018.

The season will open in September with a revival of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, the orchestra’s innovative mix of minimal staging and digital animation, brought stunningly to life by Yuval Sharon. Tristan und Isolde will be presented in concert featuring Gerhard Siegel and Nina Stemme in the title roles. Those performances headline an April 2018 mini-festival called “The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde,” interlaced with performances of Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony (featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Cynthia Millar) and a program of sacred music stretching from the Renaissance through Liszt (featuring Paul Jacobs), all conducted by Welser-Möst.

The music director’s other concerts include Mahler’s Sixth and Ninth Symphonies, Verdi’s ballet music from Don Carlo, and Haydn’s The Seasons. In October 2017, Welser-Möst will lead the orchestra on a European tour in Austria, France, Germany, and Luxembourg with works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mahler, and Janáček. (Details of tour dates and venues will be announced in the coming months.) In January 2018, the orchestra will return to New York’s Carnegie Hall to perform Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Haydn’s The Seasons. Welser-Möst will also lead a spring tour with all-Beethoven performances in Vienna and Japan.

Guest conductors in the coming season include Cleveland Orchestra music director laureate Christoph von Dohnányi (Brahms Symphony No.1), Vladimir Ashkenazy (Elgar Enigma Variations), Charles Dutoit (Ravel Daphnis et Chloe), Alan Gilbert (Dvořák Symphony No.8), Fabio Luisi (Bruckner Symphony No.4), Michael Tilson Thomas (Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony), and Stéphane Denêve (Rachmaninoff Symphony No.2).

Especially interesting are some rare visitors to Cleveland’s orchestral repertory: Suk’s Asrael Symphony (led by Jakub Hrůša), suites from Rameau’s Dardanus and Gluck’s Don Juan (Nicholas McGegan), and Elgar’s Symphony No.2 (Nicholaj Znaider).

The roster of guest soloists is impressive, including Emmanuel Ax (Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1), Marc-André Hamelin (Mozart Jeunhomme Concerto), Sergey Khachatryan (Brahms Violin Concerto), Richard Goode (Mozart Piano Concerto No.18), Thomas Hampson (Haydn The Seasons), Mitsuko Uchida (Mozart Piano Concerti Nos. 5 and 27), Isabelle Faust (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto), Yefim Bronfman (Beethoven Emperor Piano Concerto), Daniil Trifonov (Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2), Alisa Weilerstein (Barber Cello Concerto), and Jory Vinokour in the Cleveland premiere of Poulenc’s Concert champêtre.

Two former Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellows will have new works featured in the centenary season. Johannes Maria Staud’s Stromab, inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s short horror story “The Willows,” (co-commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Royal Danish Orchestra) will receive its first Cleveland performance with Welser-Möst conducting. Julian Anderson’s Incantesimi (“Spells”) will be led by Christoph von Dohnányi. Fabio Luisi will lead the Cleveland premiere of a new piano concerto by Salvatore Sciarrino (co-commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain) featuring Jonathan Biss as soloist. Paul Jacobs will be soloist for Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra by the late Stephen Paulus, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero.

As part of the centennial season, the orchestra also announced the introduction of CODA, the Cleveland Orchestra Digital Archives, which will go online in autumn of 2017. Also previewed: a limited-edition chocolate bar, customized by the Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop in downtown Cleveland, featuring an imprint of Severance Hall. The commemorative treats—in dark and milk chocolate—will officially debut this fall, though event attendees on Friday were given first-run samples.

Season subscriptions are available at clevelandorchestra.com with single concert tickets going on sale in mid-August.

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