Sunday 21 May 2017 6.30pm, Trafalgar Square, London

One of today’s rising stars of the piano, Behzod Abduraimnov, will make his London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) debut performing to a crowd of thousands at a free, outdoor concert in London’s Trafalgar Square, on Sunday 21 May as part of the annual BMW LSO Open Air Classics series. He performs Rachmaninov’s virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, part of an all-Rachmaninov programme conducted by Valery Gergiev, which also features the composer’s Second Symphony.

The concert is the result of a partnership between the LSO and BMW who share the belief that great music is for everyone, whatever their background or situation. Now highly-anticipated in London’s musical calendar, BMW LSO Open Air Classics each year offers everyone who can be there, Londoners and visitors to the city alike, the opportunity to experience the LSO free and in the open air in Trafalgar Square. Large screens and state-of-the-art sound technology allow the whole crowd to witness the concert close-up, making the experience equally special at the back of the square as at the front.

40 young musicians from schools in east London, aged between 11 and 18 years, will join the LSO on stage for a special performance of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. Playing as part of the Orchestra, the young people will sit amongst the members of the LSO and musicians from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, all performing together. The LSO’s relationship with the Guildhall School allows Guildhall musicians to benefit from a variety of performance opportunities such as this.

This thrilling experience for the young musicians, who are from a broad range of backgrounds in the diverse East London community, is part of LSO On Track, a pioneering programme which, in partnership with local Music Education Hubs, builds on existing musical provision by giving special access to LSO musicians. Through school visits, ensemble learning, mentoring and opportunities to perform with the LSO on stage, young people are challenged and inspired, giving them valuable insight into the life of a professional musician and nurturing their talent. LSO On Track also provides mentoring for primary school teachers, who may have had little or no musical training, in order to build the knowledge and confidence they need to use music creatively in classrooms. LSO On Track was launched in 2008 and has seen young people perform side-by-side with the LSO in Trafalgar Square, at the Barbican and notably as part of the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympics in 2012.

This annual concert in Trafalgar Square, now in its sixth year thanks to the continued support of BMW, takes the LSO beyond the concert hall and out reaching new audiences. In 2016, 69% of the audience in the Square were under the age of 35 and 86% had never seen the LSO perform before. The LSO recently became the first British orchestra to visit Vietnam, giving a concert in the main square in Hanoi’s Old Town and next year they will perform Karlheinz Stockhausen’s orchestral masterpiece Gruppen in the vast Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Events like these appeal to new LSO audiences as do new initiatives from next season including a series of short, early-evening concerts, and £5 tickets for the under-18s. Ever-increasing digital reach through streaming and other initiatives as well as the Orchestra’s pioneering work with young people demonstrate how the LSO is nurturing both the musicians and the audiences of tomorrow, and is sharing its music-making with a larger community than ever before.

The performance begins at 6.30pm on Sunday 21 May 2017. The concert is free, does not require a ticket and is open to everybody. However, for the safety and comfort of the audience, only a certain number of people can access the square during the performance and, once capacity is reached entry will be suspended. Early arrival is therefore strongly advised to secure a place.

Kathryn McDowell, the LSO’s Managing Director, said, “I’m delighted that this wonderful, free event, for all Londoners, presented in partnership with BMW, will again bring the LSO’s music into the heart of London. We have a piano soloist for the first time in the Square, the dazzling young Behzod Abduraimov who will perform Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, making his LSO debut in this dramatic setting. A real highlight will be the performance by the young LSO On Track musicians, demonstrating the remarkable work our players do in music education throughout the year, and providing a hugely rewarding and exciting musical experience for the young people. All of this is enabled by the continued support of BMW who have been our partner in this project since it began, and sincere thanks to Ian Robertson and the BMW teams in the UK and Germany who work closely with us to bring this event about. I’d also like to thank the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for his continued support.”

Dr Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said, “In the sixth year of our partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra we are looking forward to welcoming around 10,000 listeners from all over the world, whether they are new to classical music or seasoned enthusiasts. For almost 50 years now, the BMW Group’s cultural engagement programme has focused on making the arts more accessible to everyone. We are honoured to be a patron of collaborations with some of the world’s leading cultural institutions and we’re extremely proud of this concert series with the London Symphony Orchestra.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “There are few places on earth that can rival our city for its arts, culture and music, and tourists flock here in their millions every year to get a taste of our cultural riches. I’m delighted to see the LSO bringing another incredible concert to Trafalgar Square. As well as giving rising young stars from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to play alongside world-class musicians, this top showcase of talent will entertain thousands of Londoners who may have never had the chance to experience this calibre of classical music before. It is these types of events that show London at its outward-looking, open and creative best.”

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov, said, “To make my debut with the London Symphony Orchestra in the iconic Trafalgar Square will be a wonderful experience and I am very much looking forward to performing with the LSO and again with Maestro Gergiev. I hope the audience will be drawn into the romanticism of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini and taken on a musical journey through the array of colours and emotions depicted by the 24 Variations.”


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