It is going to be a rich season for two of the main Scottish orchestras. In recent weeks, both the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra have announced details of their respective 2009-10 seasons.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Sir Charles Mackerras' recording of Strauss and Karen Cargill as featured artist.
Since its birth in 1974, the SCO has represented an outstanding centre for music-making. The projects taking place in the 2009-10 season are a confirmation of the high quality of their work.
First highlight for the SCO is certainly the studio recording of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with Conductor Laureate Sir Charles Mackerras on the Chandos label. An exceptional cast of soloists will include Christine Brewer, Diana Montague, Gillian Keith, Lucy Crowe, Alice Coote, Robert Dean Smith, Christopher Maltman and Matthew Rose. Together with Ariadne, Strauss' Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme will be recorded in Edinburgh's Usher Hall.
A major protagonist of the SCO season is its Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati. Taking up his post in September 2009, he will conduct five concert weeks between December 2009 and April 2010. He will make an important debut leading the SCO and mezzo Magdalena Kožená in Mahler's Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
A further notable collaboration between the SCO and Ticciati will take place in December again. Ticciati will present a programme of Fauré, Berlioz and Haydn, including Berlioz's Le Mort de Cléopâtre, with Karen Cargill as soloist. Cargill will collaborate again with Ticciati for Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ in February. This performance will also feature Yann Beuron and Matthew Rose.
Karen Cargill has a special role in the next Orchestra's season, being SCO featured artist. One of the many highlights of this collaboration will be in February, when she will perform songs by Spohr and Brahms, as well as an aria from La Clemenza di Tito. SCO Principals Maximiliano Martín (clarinet), Jane Atkins (viola) and Simon Lepper (piano) will join her. This latest concert is part of the Chamber Concert Series. In addition, she will perform Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder with SCO Principal Guest Conductor Olari Elts in March.
There's plenty to celebrate for the SCO this year. Together with their newly appointed and acclaimed Principal Conductor, the Orchestra will celebrate SCO's Composer Laureate Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and his 75th birthday. For this occasion, on 30 and 31 October (in Glasgow City Halls and Edinburgh's Queen's Hall respectively) the SCO will perform Davies' Fourth Symphony with conductor Oliver Knussen. For this special event, Davies will also spend time with the audience at pre-concert talks in Glasgow and Edinburgh (free to ticket holders), talking about his life and work.
Other major artists will be celebrated in the 2009-10 season. The SCO will pay tribute to James McMillan for his 50th birthday and to Kenneth Leighton on the 80th anniversary of his birth. These celebrations are part of the Year of Homecoming project, in which the SCO commemorates the work of artists who have a particular significance for Scotland. Concerts from this series will take place in Glasgow (27 November, City Halls) and Edinburgh (28 November, Queen's Hall). Scottish Garry Walker will conduct.
Other highlights of this incredible SCO season include Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Mozart and Strauss with Radovan Vlatkovic as soloist in Strauss' Horn Concerto No 1 in January; a Viennese New Year with Nicolae Moldoveanu conducting a selection of traditional waltzes from the Strauss family and excerpts from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker; and the Schumann 200 project, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann in 2010.
The season Grand Finale is worth mentioning too. This will include a performance by world-class pianist Maria João Pires who will join the SCO in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. This concert will feature Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 4 under the baton of Trevor Pinnock who will also conduct Mozart's Symphony No 39 and Mendelssohn's The Fair Melusine.
Venues hosting the SCO performances are in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Inverness, Perth, Dumfries and Ayr, thus allowing audiences from all over Scotland to enjoy this fascinating programme.
Being proud of having a young and talented Principal Conductor, the SCO will also give the chance to their audience to know Robin Ticciati better: everyone interested will have the opportunity to attend pre-concert talks in Glasgow (11 December), St Andrews (16 December), Edinburgh (17 December) and Aberdeen (19 December).
Royal Scottish National Orchestra: Stéphane Denève's fifth Season as Music Director and Schumann's 200th anniversary symphony series.
The RSNO, reopening at the Usher Hall, will present a formidable programme. With the number of subscribers at its highest for 25 years, the RSNO's 2009-10 season seems to have little to envy in the London music scene.
To quote Stéphane Denève, Music Director at his fifth year of partnership with the RSNO, 'There are too many highlights to mention individually'.
Visiting performers of international fame feature in the forthcoming RSNO season. The opening concert will see pianist Lars Vogt engaging with Mozart's Piano Concerto No 24, and further pieces by Knussen and Rimsky-Korsakov's symphonic suite Scheherazade, this latter based on the collection of Arabian folk tales One Thousand and One Nights.
Vogt made his first appearance with the RNSO in 2007, as so did one of the world's most acclaimed pianists, Nicolai Lugansky, who will return to perform with the RSNO in February. Lugansky will perform, among other pieces, Beethove's Third Piano Concerto.
Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Andrew Davis and Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Yakov Kreizberg are only a few among the outstanding line-up of visiting conductors. For instance, RSNO Conductor Laureate Neeme Järvi, long-time collaborator with the Orchestra, will present the exploration of Dutch composer Henk de Vlieger's condensed versions of Wagner's operas, with Tristan und Isolde: An Orchestral Passion.
Visiting soloists include acclaimed violinists Leonidas Kavakos, Artistic Director of the Camerata Salzburg; Nicola Benedetti; Renaud Capuçon; and Vadim Gluzman. Among the other musicians there is clarinetist Sharon Kam, at her first appearance with the Orchestra, and RSNO Principal Oboe Emmanuel Laville, who will perform Richard Strauss' Oboe Concerto in October 2009. Truls Mørk, one of the world's finest cellists, will conclude the season in May 2010 with a selection of works by Schumann, Elgar and Janacek.
A major initiative is also the Words and Music project that focuses on the connection between orchestral masterpieces and the written word. The above-mentioned opening concert featuring Vogt inaugurates this initiative. Other pieces included in this project are Bernstein's Overture and Suite from Candide (based on Voltaire's satire), Berg's Violin Concerto (based on JS Bach's chorale Es ist genug), Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (inspired by Slavic folk tales), Beethoven's Leonore Overture No 2 (from Beethoven's Fidelio, inspired by playwright Jean-Nicolas Bouilly's Leonore), Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No 1 (composed as incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's drama), Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and Richard Strauss' Don Quixote.
Other important initiatives include the 200th anniversary survey of the symphonies of Robert Schumann and a series of major choral works. The first project was created to celebrate the composer's birth and it will include rarities for the RSNO patrons such as the complete symphonies of the German composer. Four conductors will share the podium to offer their interpretation Schumann's works: Jakub Hruša (No 1 Spring), Sir Roger Norrington (No 2), Sir Andrew Davis (No 3 Rhenish), and Music Director Denève (No 4).
As for the choral works, British tenor Ian Bostridge will perform Britten's War Requiem, together with Norwegian rising star baritone Audun Iversen and Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka. The award-winning RSNO Junior Chorus will join this performance.
The list of major choral pieces that the RSNO will present is impressive. Among the highlights, there will be Fauré's Requiem (January) featuring the Junior Chorus again. Living composers are celebrated in works by Guillaume Connesson (Une lueur dans l'âge sombre); newly appointed BBC Symphony Orchestra Artist-in-Association Oliver Knussen (Flourish with Fireworks; The Way to Castle Yonder); the European première of American Michael Daugherty's Deux ex machina; and the First Symphony of one of the greatest living French composers, Henri Dutilleux.
International projects are also planned for the RSNO: their six-date tour will see the Orchestra performing in important venues such as Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden (5 February), Philharmonie, Luxembourg (6 February), Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris (8 February), Philharmonie Gasteig, Munich (9 February), Konzerthaus, Vienna (10 February) and Belgrade (Thursday 11 February).
At the RSNO there are plenty of offers for young audience too: the Standard Life Passport to Music scheme, successfully launched last year, allows children under 16 to access all of the RSNO's Season concerts in Scotland free of charge (excluding Festive concerts). In addition, the Under 26 £5 Tickets scheme made the RSNO even more successful among young people.
This is not a complete list of all the SCO and RSNO events.
Subscription booking for the RSNO 2009-10 season in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow opened Tuesday 31 March. Single tickets are on sale from Tuesday 19 May (priority booking for RSNO Circle members from Tuesday 12 May 2009). For further information visit http://www.rsno.org.uk/cms/.
Subcriptions for the SCO concerts in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews are available at http://www.sco.org.uk/ . Single tickets go on sale on 8 June.
Photos: SCO Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati; RSNO Music Director Stéphane Denève.
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