Barbican Presents, the Centre’s own-curated classical music strand featuring the very best international ensembles and artists, starts the new season in September 2017.

Highlights of the first half of the season include:

  • This Is Rattle - a ten-day celebration marking Sir Simon Rattle’s inaugural season as theLondon Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director and Artist-in-Association with the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The celebration includes the first-ever live relay of a classical music concert on the Centre’s Sculpture Court, and four concerts at Milton Court each curated by some of today’s leading composers: Thomas Adès, Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen and Helen Grime
  • A semi-staged performance of Purcell’s King Arthur with the Academy of Ancient Music - the second in a three-year Purcell opera cycle
  • Barbican International Associate Orchestra the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra celebrating their 275th anniversary with a concert led by Honorary Conductor Herbert Blomstedt
  • Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra returning to the Barbican Hall for a programme of Beethoven and Prokofiev
  • American pianist Jeremy Denk begins his season long Artist Residency at Milton Court

This is Rattle
Thu 14 Sep 17 – Sun 24 Sep 17, Barbican Hall, Milton Court Concert Hall, Sculpture Court
To mark his inaugural season as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, and as Artist-in-Association with the Barbican and the Guildhall School, the Barbican and the LSO present a ten day celebration This is Rattle from 14-24 September. At the heart of these celebrations are five evening concerts with the LSO conducted by Sir Simon. His inaugural programme on Tue 14 Sep 2017, 7.30pm, which also opens the Barbican 2017-18 classical music season, will be dedicated to British music and features works by Thomas Adès, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen, Elgar’s EnigmaVariations and the world premiere of Fanfare by Helen Grime, specially commissioned for the orchestra by the Barbican. The first concert on 14 September will be relayed live to the Barbican Sculpture Court’s outdoor cinema screen, and via wireless headphones. The opening performances of the season will be available to a global audience through broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, Mezzo, and Classic FM.
Parallel to the LSO’s concerts in the Barbican Hall, the four living composers whose work Sir Simon Rattle has chosen to be showcased in the opening performance (Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Adès, Oliver Knussen and Helen Grime) will curate their own concerts at Milton Court, presented by the Barbican. This series focuses on British music from last the 50 years, with each programme reflecting the composers’ personal inspirations and musical influences. Oliver Knussen conducts the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in a programme to include works by Stravinsky, Patrick Brennan, Birtwistle and Knussen himself (Sat 16 Sep 2017, 7.30pm). Thomas Adès’ concert features Guildhall musicians performing works by some of the most distinctive voices in classical music today and over the past century, including Per Nørgård, Nicholas Maw, Judith Weir, Niccolò Castiglioni, John Woolrich and Madness arranged by Adès (Mon 18 Sep 2017, 7.30pm). Britten Sinfonia performs in Helen Grime’s curated concert, which includes music by Purcell, Britten, Grime, Knussen, George Benjamin, Colin Matthews, Adès, and Stravinsky (Wed 20 Sep 2017, 7:30pm). The series ends with Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s curated concert, with BBC Singers and Martyn Brabbins performing a varied programme of music by Varèse, Machaut, Byrd and Birtwistle (Sat 23 Sep 2017, 7:30pm).
The Barbican Cinema will screen films and documentaries about Sir Simon Rattle and his work while the Barbican Library hosts an exhibition about his life and career. The Barbican Foyers will also be brought alive with two new installations. The first is a new digital display responding to and interpreting Sir Simon conducting in a motion capture studio. Also in the Foyers will be Interlock: Friends Pictured Within, a new interactive multimedia installation devised by Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning with musician Anna Meredith and artist Jonathan Munro. In Interlock: Friends Pictured Within, over 100 community participants from East London explore one of British music’s seminal works, Elgar’s Enigma Variations. After examining the stories and themes behind the piece the participants have created their own variations; these 14 new variations are expressed in different art forms such as music, dance, illustration, poetry, visual art and animation. Together the works will create an interactive digital installation which opens on 14 September and will continue throughout the autumn. Both installations form part of the Barbican’s foyers programme which extend the Barbican's programme beyond the walls of its venues and into its public spaces, giving visitors opportunities to experience outstanding art for free.
BBC Radio 3 will be in residence across the celebrations, as well as producing four Artist Spotlight concerts at LSO St Luke’s. At the Barbican Centre Radio 3 will also host exhibitions and interactive workshops, giving audiences the opportunity to try their hand at producing their own radio show.

Purcell’s King Arthur
Academy of Ancient Music
Tue 3 Oct 2017, Barbican Hall, 7pm
AAM Music Director Richard Egarr returns to the Barbican stage for the second of a three-year Purcell opera cycle co-presented with the Barbican, following the success of The Fairy Queen in October 2016. As with the first opera in the cycle, this semi-staging of Purcell’s Restoration semi-opera King Arthur, with a libretto by John Dryden, is directed by celebrated young director Daisy Evans, who brings her powerful imagination to the story of Arthur’s quest to recover Cornish princess Emmeline from his arch-enemy the Saxon King. With the insertion of new poetic text and some careful restructuring, Evans’ production highlights the ongoing relevance of the Arthurian legend – a legend which ultimately revolves around questions of British identity. Soloists include Louise Alder, Mhairi Lawson, Reginald Mobley and Peter Harvey and featuring the Choir of the AAM.

Darbar Festival: Kaushiki Chakraborty
Sun 8 Oct, Milton Court Concert Hall, 6pm
In what will be the first ever Darbar Festival show to take place at the Barbican, celebrated singer of Indian classical music Kaushiki Chakraborty demonstrates her mastery of khayal and thumri styles of Hindustani vocal lyricism in a performance at Milton Court Concert Hall. Her voice is accompanied by Satyajit Talwalkar (tabla) and Ajay Joglekar (harmonium). Darbar Festival, now a highlight of London’s classical music season since its first outing in 2005, is an annual celebration of Indian classical music, bringing together musicians from the north Indian Hindustani and south Indian Carnatic traditions.

Jeremy Denk: Milton Court Artist-in-Residence: Jeremy Denk/Mozart: the Late Sonatas, Thu 12 Oct 2017, Milton Court Concert Hall, 7.30pm
Jeremy Denk: Infinite Variations, Sun 15 Oct 2017, Milton Court Concert Hall, 11am, 3pm, 7pm
Acclaimed American pianist Jeremy Denk is the second Milton Court Artist-in-Residence, following Richard Tognetti’s successful series of concerts during the 2016-17 season. The pianist is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the Avery Fisher Prize and Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. He is celebrated for his intelligence and wit both in his writings on music and in his sensitive interpretations of diverse repertoire. The residency, part of the Barbican Presents season, will showcase Denk’s extraordinary versatility and ability to connect with a wide range of audiences in a series of concerts that begins on 12 October with a recital of Mozart’s late piano music. In this opening concert Denk will perform the last five of the composer’s eighteen piano sonatas, as well as the Rondo in A minor, K. 511, works which demonstrate the fullest expression of the composer’s creativity, while remaining economical, polished and elegant.
Jeremy Denk’s residency continues on 15 October with Infinite Variations, a three-part day of music celebrating the infinite variety of the variation form. He will explore it with typical Denkian ingenuity and humour, from a range of musical, human and philosophical perspectives.
The day is structured in three parts. Variations on Death (for piano solo,11am) examines the way that the form can evoke premonitions of the grave, farewells, and intimations of mortality. It will include works by Bach, Liszt, Schumann, and Denk’s own variations on death music from video games. For Variations on Virtuosity (3pm), Denk and instrumentalist friends explore life-affirming displays of virtuosic exuberance: salon variations by Viennese classical composers are paired with some of the more eccentric 19th-century manifestations of the form (Bizet’s Variations Chromatiques and the Variations on Yankee Doodle by Vieuxtemps), before Jeremy tackles the musical Everest of Schumann’s Symphonic Variations. The final concert (7pm), Variations on Heartbreak . . . and Hope, looks at the way the variation has been used to express themes of heartbreak and regret. For the beauty of the human voice, Denk turns to the versatile Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman. The evening includes an eclectic range of variation-based works – Monteverdi, Brahms, Verdi (filtered through Nina Simone) and John Adams (a European premiere) – and will culminate in Beethoven’s final piano sonata, a journey from tragedy to transcendence.
In February 2018 Denk is joined by Britten Sinfonia in the original jazz band version of Gershwin’sRhapsody in Blue and in Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds. The residency concludes with a final recital in early March 2018, with a virtuoso programme including Schumann, Beethoven and Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives. The residency will be supported throughout by masterclasses and workshops with musicians from the Guildhall School.

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig: Beethoven and Bruckner
Sun 22 Oct 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
In the year of its 275th anniversary, Barbican International Associate the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra returns to the Hall, led by Herbert Blomstedt, Honorary Conductor of the orchestra, who served as its Kapellmeister from 1998-2005. Blomstedt, best known for his performances of Austrian and German composers, leads the orchestra in a concert featuring two works that the orchestra itself first premiered: Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with distinguished soloists Leonidas Kavakos, Gautier Capuçon and Kirill Gerstein, and Bruckner’s sublime Seventh Symphony.

ECHO Rising Stars: Quatuor van Kuijk
Fri 27 Oct, LSO St Luke’s, 1pm
The ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Stars Series presents emerging young talent tipped for stardom by the directors of Europe’s leading concert halls. Each artist’s performance features a short new work, commissioned by ECHO from a range of international composers. The Barbican showcases the series in the UK as part of its season at LSO St Luke’s. On 27 October, the concert features string quartet Quatuor van Kuijk, who were selected for the BBC New Generation Artists scheme from 2015 – 2017, and are gaining recognition for their fresh and characterful interpretations of the quartet repertoire. They will perform music by Ravel and Janáček, and a new work by French composer Edith Canat de Chizy, which has been specially commissioned for their ECHO tour.

Stockhausen: Stimmung & Cosmic Pulses
Mon 20 Nov 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Marking ten years since Stockhausen’s death, vocal ensemble Singcircle and some of the composer’s closest associates, including his long-time artistic collaborator Kathinka Pasveer, perform two of his defining masterpieces.
This concert also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Singcircle's performance of Stimmung – a piece they have performed over 50 times, including a memorable performance in the Barbican's "Music & Machines" festival of 1986, dedicated to Stockhausen, when he controlled the amplification. Regarded as a leading exponent of contemporary vocal music, Singcircle have declared this to be their farewell concert, and, as such, this concert of extremes will undoubtedly be a memorable affair.
It begins with the yogic, meditative and trance-like work for six unaccompanied voices Stimmung, often viewed as one of the iconic compositions of the 1960s. The work, built around the note B flat and its associated harmonics, embraces elements drawn from non-Western religions and cultures, and intertwines excerpts from Stockhausen’s own erotic poems. It is followed by Stockhausen’s last electronic composition, the monumental Cosmic Pulses, which forms part of his larger unfinished Klang (‘sound’) composition cycle. German sound and laser artist Robert Henke will provide a new, especially devised laser installation to accompany the performance of Cosmic Pulses, visually expressing some of the formal beauty of the piece. The laser’s beams will be corresponding to the layers of sound in the music, creating Henke’s trademark geometrical sculptures above the heads of the audience. Henke says:Cosmic Pulses is one of electronic music’s great experiences: an overwhelming, visceral, sonic maelstrom in the total immersion of surround sound. This is a welcome return to the Barbican from Henke, following his world premiere performance of Lumière III in February 2017 and his presentation of Lumière I as part of the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition in 2014.

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jansons
Fri 24 Nov 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Following their triumphant performance of Russian music in April 2017, Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – one of the world’s finest orchestras – and chief conductor Mariss Jansonsreturn to the Barbican Hall to present a programme including Beethoven’s stirring Piano Concerto No. 4 with Grammy Award-winning Yefim Bronfman at the piano, and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, a famously optimistic and joyous work written in 1944, for which he was later to be condemned by the Soviet regime.

Tan Dun: The Martial Arts Trilogy
Thu 30 Nov 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
In 2017, the Barbican celebrates the medium of film with a “Film in Focus” series across the various artforms. As part of this, the Barbican presents Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun leads a performance of suites from his stirring scores for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee), Hero (Zhang Yimou) andThe Banquet (Feng Xiaogang), accompanied by visuals from the films. Bringing together three masterpieces of Chinese cinema, Tan Dun’s trilogy sets the Martial Arts tradition originally found in Chinese opera into a modern context, giving it an international appeal through film. Delicate solos on cello, violin and piano, thundering percussion and the soaring strings of a live orchestra are among the elements of Tan Dun’s score that play an essential role in the big screen depiction of nine clashing armies, flying warriors and forbidden romances.

Cecilia Bartoli & Sol
Dolce Duello: Baroque arias for voice and cello
Fri 1 Dec 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Celebrated Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli makes a welcome return to the Barbican, on this occasion with renowned Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta (who performed in the First Night of the Proms in 2016) accompanied by the Cappella Gabetta ensemble led by concertmaster Andrés Gabetta. The Cappella Gabetta was established by Sol and her brother Andrés in 2010, and is devoted to baroque and early classical repertoire, performed on period instruments. Cecilia and Sol have devised a programme of colourful Baroque duos, showcasing both voice and cello.

Les Arts Florissants/ Monteverdi: Selva morale e spirituale
Sat 9 Dec 2017, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm
Baroque musical ensemble Les Arts Florissants and founder/conductor William Christie give a rare performance of Monteverdi’s comprehensive anthology of sacred vocal music, fittingly in the year that marks the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth. Published at the end of the composer’s career in 1641, the collection is regarded as the composer’s most significant anthology of liturgical works since the Vespers in 1610. The event features a stellar cast, including sopranos Lucia Martin Caron andEmmanuelle De Negri, countertenor Carlo Vistoli, tenors Cyril Auvity and Reinoud Van Mechelen, and basses Marc Mauillon, Cyril Costanzo, and John Taylor Ward.

Coming up in Spring 2018:
Los Angeles Philharmonic Barbican International Associate Residency, to includeEuropean premieres by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Ted Hearne, both Barbican co-commissions, and Chichester Psalms by Bernstein (2 – 4 May 2018)
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Genesis Suite, devised and presented by creative director Gerard McBurney, with visuals by award-winning projection designer Mike Tutaj.(13 January 2018)
The UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking featuring Joyce DiDonato asSister Helen Prejean (20 February 2018)
A Bach Weekend curated by Sir John Eliot Gardiner to celebrate his 75th birthday, including a three-concert cycle of cantatas performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (15 – 17 June 2018)
Visits from the Bayerische Staatsorchester conducted by Kirill Petrenko (1 June 2018) and the Orchestra of La Scala Milan with Riccardo Chailly (24 January 2018)


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