• Leading British chamber orchestra invited to appear at BOZAR concert hall on night of 29 March as part of Klarafestival, with support of British Council • Programme celebrating cultural links between Europe and UK to feature works by Haydn, Britten and Tavener, with appearances by tenor Ian Bostridge, cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and novelists Ali Smith and Jonathan Coe

Aurora Orchestra has been invited to make its debut appearance at BOZAR, Brussels’ leading concert hall, on the night of the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU. Hosted by the Klarafestival as the closing concert in its 2019 edition, this special concert is intended to celebrate the depth and vibrancy of the cultural connections – past, present and future – which bind the United Kingdom and the European mainland.

Conducted by leading French-German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and featuring the legendary British tenor Ian Bostridge, the planned programme opens with The Protecting Veil, John Tavener’s iconic work for solo cello and strings that stands amongst the most widely-cherished pieces of late twentieth-century British instrumental music. The second half of the concert features Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations – a song cycle for tenor and strings setting text by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud – and Haydn’s tongue-in-cheek ‘Farewell’ symphony, during whose final movement the players leave the stage one by one, leaving just a pair of muted violins on stage at its conclusion.

The concert will also feature readings by British novelists Ali Smith and Jonathan Coe. Presenting extracts from their novels Autumn and Middle England respectively, these giants of the contemporary British literary scene will offer their perspective on the cultural relations between the United Kingdom and its European neighbours. Brussels-based British writer Sulaiman Addonia also reads a new short story, adding another perspective to the event.

John Harte, Chief Executive of Aurora Orchestra, said: “We are deeply honoured to be invited to appear as guests of BOZAR and the Klarafestival on a date laden with such significance for the contemporary relationship between the UK and Europe. Regardless of the ebb and flow of political alignments over time, as an orchestra our artistic DNA will always be inextricably interwoven with that of Europe, with European composers, musicians, and stories all playing a vital role in our musical life. We wholeheartedly embrace the idea of an event which celebrates the ties between the UK and our European neighbours, irrespective of current political context. As an ensemble whose membership comprises many different nationalities and which tours widely throughout Europe, we are passionately committed to maintaining and strengthening these cultural ties, and look forward to reaffirming them in the company of the BOZAR audience on 29 March.”

Cathy Graham, Head of Music at the British Council, said: “The UK and Europe share a rich history full of important musical connections. It was the Royal Philharmonic Society in London who commissioned Beethoven’s ninth symphony and supported the great composer when both money and good health deserted him, while both Handel and J C Bach (the ‘London Bach’) made the English capital their home for the major part of their careers. The same city inspired some of Haydn’s most celebrated work, and with his ‘Farewell’ symphony we mark the end of one chapter of history between the UK and Europe but also usher in a new era, one which we are determined will be just as fruitful and inspiring for all of our musicians wherever they may live or work across this fabulously creative continent. We are delighted to be supporting Aurora Orchestra to make their debut in the Klarafestival at BOZAR with this special performance.”

Hendrik Storme, Artistic Director at the Klarafestival, said: “A music festival with an awareness of what’s happening in the world today, cannot organise a concert on 29 March 2019 without taking Brexit into consideration. Together with our concert partner BOZAR we decided to turn our closing concert into a tribute to the inseparable cultural ties between Europe and the UK. Brexit or not, Europe and the UK will always be connected through the language of music and culture.”

PROGRAMME Friday 29 March, 8pm Henry Le Boeuf Hall, BOZAR, Brussels

John Tavener: The Protecting Veil Benjamin Britten: Les Illuminations, Op. 18 Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 45 (‘Farewell’)

Jonathan Coe: Extract from Middle England Ali Smith: Extract from Autumn Sulaiman Addonia: New short story

Ian Bostridge, tenor Nicolas Altstaedt, cello/conductor Jonathan Coe, writer/speaker Ali Smith, writer/speaker Sulaiman Addonia, writer/speaker Aurora Orchestra


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