In the year that marks 250 years since the birth of one of the most influential figures in classical music, Cardiff’s music community brings together Beethoven’s most iconic works in 2020.
Across a year of celebrations BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW), Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), Sinfonia Cymru, St David’s Hall, and Welsh National Opera (WNO) present Beethoven 250.
· A recreation of Beethoven’s epic 1808 concert at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien. BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales and Welsh National Opera Orchestra share the honours in performances of the fifth and sixth symphonies, Piano Concerto No. 4, excerpts from Mass in C Major, and the Choral Fantasy [19 January 2020]
· BBC Radio 3’s Tom Service with the Aurora Orchestra present Beethoven's Eroica from memory at St David’s Hall [18 May 2020]
· Sinfonia Cymru perform all five Beethoven piano concertos in one weekend at BBC Hoddinott Hall [21st & 22nd March 2020]
· RWCMD Symphony Orchestra introduce young people to Beethoven, the musical superhero in Orchestradventure! at St David’s Hall [4 February 2020]
· Conductors and artists will include: Alwyn Mellor, Carlo Rizzi, Gábor Tákacs-Nagy, Jaime Martín, Llŷr Williams, Nicola Benedetti, Pavel Kolesnikov, Steven Osborne, Tadaaki Otaka and WNO Music Director, Tomáš Hanus.
Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Peter Bradbury said: “Cardiff is a city bursting with creativity, from its grassroots venues to its concert halls and beyond. This collaborative year of celebration, marking 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, will be a real showcase for the considerable musical talent, the fantastic venues we have here, and the reasons why we believe the city has the potential to become the UK’s first genuine Music City.”
The year will begin in January with Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D major ‘Ghost’ [10 January 2020] at RWCMD and runs through to November with WNO Orchestra performing Beethoven’s ground-breaking choral Symphony No 9 [8 November 2020].
As part of the anniversary, composers from RWCMD have been invited to write new works inspired by Beethoven’s Ghost Trio. The Gould Piano Trio will select one of these works to receive its premiere in the Dora Stoutzker Hall, RWCMD [10 January] alongside a performance of the original piece.
BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales and WNO Orchestra come together in a monumental event at St David’s Hall, the national concert hall of Wales, to recreate Beethoven: The 1808 Concert [19 January]. Organised by the composer himself, the performance took place in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna 1808 and was considered one of Beethoven’s most remarkable concerts. It featured the public premieres of the fifth and sixth symphonies and was the final time that Beethoven appeared as a soloist, performing his fourth piano concerto. Opening the concert, WNO Orchestra conducted by Carlo Rizzi will perform Symphony No. 6, Ah! Perfido, Gloria from Mass in C Major, and Piano Concerto No. 4 with Steven Osborne. The second half performed by BBC NOW, with conductor Jaime Martín and pianist Llŷr Williams, features Symphony No. 5, Sanctus from Mass in C Major, Fantasy Op. 77 and Choral Fantasy.
In February, RWCMD Symphony Orchestra and animateur Ruth Rosales take audiences on an interactive journey through time to meet Beethoven, the musical superhero at St David’s Hall. Orchestradventure! [4 February 2020] specially devised to capture the imagination of schoolchildren through the power of a live symphony orchestra, will discover more about the deaf composer, exploring if he could hear the future in his mind! RWCMD Symphony Orchestra will tell Beethoven’s incredible story, linking his music to modern masterpieces from film music favourites.
Heading into spring, Sinfonia Cymru will present the Complete Beethoven Piano Concertos across a single weekend [21st & 22nd March 2020], performed by Pavel Kolesnikov. The former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, who has only just turned 30, is emerging as a leading artist on the world stage. Presented across three concerts at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Sinfonia Cymru is conducted by Gábor Tákacs-Nagy.
In May, St David’s Hall welcomes the Aurora Orchestra to perform Beethoven's Eroica from Memory [18 May 2020]. An ensemble celebrated for its memorised performances of complete symphonies, Aurora Orchestra will perform the bold and expressive Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’, that re-wrote the symphonic rulebook for all time. BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service and conductor Nicholas Collon dismantle and rebuild Beethoven’s masterpiece in an interactive introduction ahead of the performance. The concert opens with a return to Cardiff by Nicola Benedetti, who will be performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.
The Beethoven 250 season in Cardiff culminates in two Beethoven essentials: the choral masterwork Missa Solemnis [5 June] with BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales conducted by Tadaaki Otaka at BBC Hoddinott Hall, and concludes with Beethoven Symphony No. 9 Choral [8 November] performed by WNO Orchestra & Chorus, WNO Community Chorus and BBC National Chorus of Wales at St David’s Hall under the direction of WNO Music Director, Tomáš Hanus.