- Sakari Oramo celebrates Finnish music; leading a complete Sibelius cycle in his fifth season as BBC SO Chief Conductor
- Total Immersion days to celebrate the works of Julian Anderson, Leonard Bernstein and Esa-Pekka Salonen
- Two operas and a focus on English choral music
- Continuing commitment to new music with 11 UK premieres, a number of recent works and a spotlight on seldom performed works
In his fifth season as Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo continues his acclaimed relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. This season he leads a celebration of the music of Finland which includes a complete cycle of Sibelius’s symphonies as well as a concert marking the centenary of Finnish Independence, featuring the UK premiere of Sibelius’s Press Celebrations Music alongside Sibelius’s powerful First Symphony from 1899. The season culminates with Oramo, a passionate Elgarian, leading Alice Coote, Stuart Skelton and Alan Ewing with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Elgar’s greatest oratorio; The Dream of Gerontius.
Sakari Oramo, Chief Conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra says "Performing the music of my homeland with this wonderful orchestra is always very special for me and I’m looking forward with great anticipation to this season with its focus on Finnish music. Following our recent Nielsen cycle I hope our audience will come on this new journey with us as together we explore the symphonies of Sibelius, as well as many other of his works, throughout the season. I look forward to presenting the music of my friend and colleague Esa-Pekka Salonen and we’ll close the season in the best possible style with the BBC Symphony Chorus in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius."
BBC SO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis will lead the orchestra twice this season, firstly conducting Paul Watkins in Finzi’s seldom performed Cello Concerto (2 Feb), a work first broadcast the night before Finzi’s death in 1956, and later in the season he will conduct the London premiere of Raymond Yiu’s The World Was Once All Miracle (13 April).
Other conductors to join the BBC SO on stage include Martyn Brabbins who steers a concert of Birtwistle and Vaughan Williams (13 Oct), John Storgårds conducting the UK premiere of Betsy Jolas’s Histoires Vraies (3 Nov), Thomas Søndergård who leads Behzod Abduraimov’s debut with the BBC SO (23 Nov) and Gergely Madaras making his Barbican debut with a war-themed concert featuring the UK premiere of Ross Harris’s Face (28 April).
The BBC SO is also delighted to welcome newly announced BBC Philharmonic Principal Guest Conductor Ben Gernon, who makes his Barbican debut (7 Nov) and James Feddeck, making his London debut (9 Feb) as guest conductors this season, continuing the BBC SO’s strong relationship with young conductors.
Total Immersion Days
The BBC SO continues its critically acclaimed series of Total Immersion days with concerts, films and events exploring the life and works of some of the greatest composers of our time. This season the BBC SO will embrace three major musicians: two composer-conductors, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Leonard Bernstein (the centenary of whose birth falls in 2018), as well as one of today’s most impressive composers; Julian Anderson.
In the first Total Immersion day of the season (21 Oct) the BBC SO will celebrate the works of Julian Anderson, who turns 50 in 2017. The day will see Nicholas Kok lead the BBC Singers in an exploration of Anderson’s choral music including Bell Mass and guest conductor Edward Gardner will join the BBC SO on stage to re-examine Anderson’s orchestral pieces.
Best known as a conductor, Total Immersion: Esa-Pekka Salonen (10 Dec) offers audiences a chance to explore his composition talents and creativity in a wide variety of music. Forming part of the BBC SO’s wider celebration of Finnish music, this Total Immersion day will culminate in a Finnish affair with Sakari Oramo leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, oboist Nicholas Daniel and sopranos Anu and Piia Komsi in a performance that includes the UK Premiere of Karawane and works such as Gambit and Wing on Wing. Through this day of film, concerts and conversation, Salonen the composer will be revealed.
The final Total Immersion of the 17/18 season celebrates the music of Leonard Bernstein in his centenary year (27 Jan). Dedicated as much to his concert and choral works as his jazz and cabaret talents, Bernstein the Renaissance Man is celebrated in performances, film and conversations including popular choral works and a rare chance to hear his Songfest.
Opera & Choral Works
The voice plays an important role in the BBC SO’s season with the concert-staging of two celebrated operas and a focus on English choral works. In an evening of Spanish celebration led by conductor Josep Pons, Falla’s El Amor Brujo will be followed by Grandos’s opera Goyescas (19 Jan). The following month Joyce DiDonato will star alongside Michael Mayes and the BBC Singers in the UK Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (20 Feb) under the baton of Mark Wigglesworth.
English choral music will be a focal point throughout the season with the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus performing programmes including Vaughan Williams’s mighty Sea Symphony (13 Oct), four of Finzi’s magnificent settings of English poetry (2 Feb) and a selection of Elgar’s smaller scale choral works (13 April).
The BBC Singers will also return to Milton Court in 2017-18 to perform a series of rich programmes including works by Varèse and Birtwistle (23 Sep), Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Mendelssohn’s performing edition, 11 Feb), three of Handel’s Coronation Anthems (4 May) and Joseph Horowitz’s Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo (23 June).
The BBC SO is delighted to welcome a number of well-known and admired voices this season including Elizabeth Watts, Marcus Farnsworth, Anna Stéphany, Anu Komsi, Roderick Williams, Andrew Staples, Alison Bell, and Anthony Gregory.
New Music & Renewing Repertoire
Along with 11 UK premieres this season, including Thomas Larcher’s Red and Green, Betsy Jolas’s Histoires Vraies and Aarre Merikanto’s Ekho, the BBC SO will focus on renewing repertoire with performances of recent works by Harrison Birtwistle, Alasdair Nicolson, Poul Ruders and Raymond Yiu. They will be championing seldom performed symphonies and concertos such as Bruch’s Concerto for Two Pianos (4 Oct), Schmitt’s Symphony No. 2 (27 Oct), Finzi’s Cello Concerto in A minor (2 Feb) and Barber’s Symphony No. 1 (9 Feb).
Joining the BBC SO
A world-class array of soloists will join the BBC SO on stage this season to perform a rich and varied selection of repertoire. Violinist and new music champion Carolin Widmann performs Julian Anderson’s In Lieblicher Bläue as part of the Total Immersion day dedicated to his works, Guy Johnston joins the Finnish Independence centenary celebrations, playing two Sibelius rarities for cello and orchestra (6 Dec) and Mohammed Fairouz’s Mandolin Concerto will be performed by Avi Avital, who has put the instrument on the musical map (9 May). Other soloists featuring this season will include Alina Pogotskina, Pavel Kolesnikov, Samson Tsoy, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Hakan Hardenberger, Roger Muraro, Steven Osborne, Alan Thomas, Lisa Batiashvili, Nicholas Daniel, Javier Perianes and Vilde Frang.