The London Mozart Players explore Mozart's Piano Concertos
Adding to the already popular and highly regarded Thursday lunchtime concerts series, the London Mozart Players and Howard Shelley begin a new series of lunchtime concerts exploring the great piano concertos of Mozart. Each concert will start with a brief introduction to the music, illustrating the principle themes and showing how the piece has been written (8 October, 5 November, 3 December).
Announcing the St John's Smith Square Young Artists' Programme
Also featured throughout the 2014/15 season will be the first participants in St John's Smith Square new Young Artists' Programme.
Ever since its reinvention as a concert hall St John’s has played a pivotal role in supporting the most promising young musical talent. Simon Rattle, Steven Isserlis, Nigel Kennedy and Daniel Harding are just a few of the musicians who performed at St John's before going on to begin internationally-renowned careers. Despite this impressive history, however, until now St John’s has never had its own Young Artists’ Programme. This years young artists are Anna Hashimoto (8 November), the Aurea Quartet, Laura Snowden (15 September) and the Zelkova Quartet (4 December) who have come to St John's through a highly competitive selection process.
Sundays at St John's Series
Another new strand for the 2014/15 season is the Sundays at St John's series featuring fantastic chamber music and song from the Baroque period through to the present day. Concerts include The Brook Street Band in a concert of music by Bach and Handel (28 September) and "Journeys", an exploration in song of the wanderer with music by Vaughan Williams, Britten, Schubert and others with Nicky Spence, Marcus Farnsworth and Audrey Hyland (21 September).
Artur Pizarro: The complete Rachmaninoff Piano Cycle
Internationally celebrated concert pianist Artur Pizarro continues his exploration of Rachmaninoff's complete piano music with three concerts this season on 24 September, 19 November and 10 December.
Celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Henschel Quartet
Recognised as one of the elite group of string quartets on the world stage today, the Henschel Quartet celebrates its 20th anniversary with a wonderful programme of gems from the string quartet repertoire (11 November). They are joined by acclaimed pianist Martino Tirimo in Brahms' Piano Quintet.
Contemporary Music at St John's
St John's commitment to contemporary music continues with a number of world premieres for the Autumn season. On 4 December, guitarist Andrey Lebedev will perform the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's Construction with Guitar Player as well as the premiere of Leo Brouwer's Sonata No. 5: Ars Combinatoria. Camerata Alma Viva, an exciting young string ensemble who perform standing up and without conductor will give the world premiere of Nimrod Borenstein's Symphony for Strings op. 68 along with Reich's Triple Quartet and Handel/Hendrix's Purple Haze (23 October). The London Mozart Players and Voce Chamber Choir will give the premiere of a new work for choir, orchestra and children by Alexander Campkin (14 December) and Stephen Montague's From the Ether will receive its world premiere with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and Russell Keable with Sir John Tomlinson (25 November). Montague's music can also be heard on 16 October in a concert with Orchestra Vitae and Smith Square Voices with his evocative and atmospheric Requiem.
Baroque Music at St Johns
Baroque music is always a core part of St John's Smith Square concert programme. Highlights this season include a concert performance on 20 November of Rameau's Platée with the Early Opera Company with Thomas Walker as Platée, Mark Milhofer as Mercer and Thespis and Emilie Renard as Junon directed by Christian Curnyn. Solomon’s Knot baroque collective, now an Aldeburgh Music Open Space ensemble, return to St John’s with their daring and electric version of Handel's Messiah: 2-to-a-part, without conductor and from memory (5 December) and Bampton Classical Opera mark Gluck's 300th birthday with a performance of Il Parnaso confuso (16 September).
A Dream of Germany - The musical links that were torn apart by the Great War
For many years, British composers were inspired to study and work in Leipzig, Dresden, Frankfurt and Berlin; similarly, German musicians pursued careers in London. The sudden loss of this fertile musical exchange between Britain and the great cultural centres of Germany is one of the least appreciated consequences of the Great War. Pianist David Owen Norris and cellist Joseph Spooner and tenor Mark Wilde have collaborated for several years on uncovering repertoire that has fallen from fashion on account of changes in politics or taste. They present a programme of four concerts on 5 October that explores the music of composers for whom there was no cultural divide before 1914.
Lucy Parham's Composer Portrait Concerts
Pianist Lucy Parham's Composer Portrait concerts, described by BBC Music Magazine as "one of the must-see events on the musical calendar" continue this season with two Sunday afternoon events on 19 October and 23 November. In "Reverie: The life and loves of Claude Debussy", Parham explores Debussy's complex intellectual and emotional world and is joined by Simon Russell Beale. "Nocturne: The Romantic Life of Frederic Chopin" follows Chopin's turbulent relationship with the controversial literary figure George Sand, drawing on letters and diaries. For this concert, Lucy Parham's partners are Juliet Stevenson and Alex Jennings.
The Christmas Festival at St John's Smith Square
Hailed as "The No. 1 British Christmas Festival" by BBC Music Magazine, the annual Christmas Festival at St John's Smith Square is always much anticipated. This year there is a sensational line-up of artists including the Choir or Kings College London, Choir of Clare College Cambridge, Oxford Baroque, Ex Cathedra, Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Tenebrae Consort, The Tallis Scholars, Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and Polyphony.
The Festival opens on 11 December with musicians of EUBO performing French baroque music with charismatic director Lars Ulrik Mortensen. On 12 December the Choir of King’s College London return to St John’s Smith Square with a rich programme featuring Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in alium and Masses by Lassus and Frank Martin. Oxford Baroque perform music by Charpentier on 14 December and The Tallis Scholars return on 19 December in a concert of music by Byrd and Taverner. Other highlights include Ensemble Plus Ultra's St John's Smith Square debut on 20 December in a programme of music from their new album on Deutsche Grammophon, marking the 400th anniversary of El Greco's death and a performance on 22 December of Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
The Festival culminates in a performance of Handel's Messiah on 23 December with Stephen Layton, Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a formidable line-up of soloists: Katherine Watson, Iestyn Davies, Gwilym Bowen and Neal Davies. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first performance of Messiah at St John’s Smith Square by Stephen Layton and Polyphony this promises to be an exhilarating concert.
St John's Smith Square Director, Richard Heason, commented: "We’re all immensely looking forward to a packed season this autumn at St John’s with both old friends and new artists joining us as we continue to celebrate the 300th birthday of our much loved concert hall.
"I am particularly pleased that we are able to launch some further new strands to our programme, such as the Sunday afternoon chamber music series and our Wednesday lunchtime concerts with the London Mozart Players. Those who joined us last year for Stephen Montague’s birthday concert have a real treat in store with two performances of his work; the first performance of the revised version of his monumental and atmospheric Requiem, one of the concerts which pay tribute to the memory of those lost in conflict over the past century, along with a new commission for the Kensington Symphony Orchestra; the final St John’s birthday commission of 2014.
"We welcome back Artur Pizarro and Lucy Parham who are completing series’ of concerts which have stretched across the year and on 20th November start a new collaboration with the Early Opera Company and Christian Curnyn, when they bring Rameau’s Platée to St John’s. The year concludes with our eagerly anticipated Christmas Festival and it is wonderful to welcome new partners, the Tenebrae Consort, Ensemble Plus Ultra and the National Youth Music Theatre to give concerts alongside firm favourites such as The Tallis Scholars, Ex Cathedra, Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.”