Highlights of BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales 2019-20 season include:

BBC NOW presents a new way to experience classical music in Classical Playlist: Live, in collaboration with Swansea City Council

The orchestra and chorus come together with Cardiff’s music community to present Beethoven’s most iconic works in 2020, marking 250 years since his birth

Jess Gillam gives the world premiere of Stravaganza, a new work for saxophone and orchestra by Sir Karl Jenkins

A new strand of concerts, CoLaboratory, explores surprising and experimental collaborations, fusing the musical worlds of American rap artist Dessa and Australia’s leading didgeridoo player William Barton with BBC NOW

Award-winning Welsh folk band Calan join BBC NOW to celebrate St David’s Day

BBC NOW join Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood for a special Late Night Prom featuring the world premiere of Horror vacui.

Announced today, BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales (BBC NOW) present their 2019-20 season, featuring epic orchestral and choral masterworks, rediscovered gems, invigorating contemporary music and exploratory new concert formats.

Michael Garvey, Director of BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales said: “From the massed forces of Verdi’s mighty Requiem to our development of the traditional concert format in Classical Playlist Live – we hope everyone will find something to enjoy in our 2019-20 season. It’s a season that showcases the orchestra’s breadth, with an incredible line up of artists alongside our ambition to make classical music accessible to all audiences through innovative concerts and imaginative learning work. We look forward to presenting our new season to our audiences here in Wales and further afield.”

BBC NOW’s Classical Playlist Live - A new way to experience classical music

In collaboration with Swansea City Council, BBC NOW presents a new style of concert presentation, aimed at introducing classical music to those who might not have experienced it live before. BBC NOW rewrite the rulebook of what an orchestral concert can be, with an immersive performance experience in Brangwyn Hall that presents a varied programme of orchestral and choral music in an informal and arresting format. BBC NOW’s Classical Playlist: Live will be presented from three separate stages inside the hall, with lighting directing the listener’s attention. Audiences will be able to stand, sit or walk around during the performance, take drinks into the hall and will be encouraged to share their experience on social media throughout the concert (5 October, Brangwyn Hall).

CoLaboratory – Exploring experimental collaborations A new strand at BBC Hoddinott Hall presents an alternative orchestral experience for audiences, as BBC NOW invite musicians from different genres of music to collaborate with them, fusing two musical worlds. The first concert in the CoLaboratory series sees the orchestra work with American rapper, singer and writer Dessa (7 November, BBC Hoddinott Hall). A style defined by a ferocity, wit, tenderness, and candour, Dessa gave six sold-out performances in a recent collaboration with the Grammy award-winning Minnesota Orchestra and her newest record, Chime, charted on the Billboard top-200 and debuted at number nine on the US Alternative charts. In the second concert of the series, BBC NOW is joined by William Barton, Australia’s leading virtuoso didgeridoo player. Barton brings a taste of traditional Australian music to Cardiff with Peter Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry, a searingly powerful work for digeridoo and orchestra, alongside other works by Grainger and Brett Dean, conducted by Jessica Cottis (24 April, BBC Hoddinott Hall). Beethoven at 250

In the year that marks 250 years since the birth of one of the most influential figures in classical music, Cardiff’s music community bring together Beethoven’s most iconic works in 2020, as BBC NOW join Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Sinfonia Cymru, St David’s Hall, and Welsh National Opera to present Beethoven 250.

BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, conducted by Jaime Martín, and WNO Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Rizzi, join forces for Beethoven: The 1808 Concert - a monumental event at St David’s Hall to recreate one of music history’s most remarkable concerts – organised by Beethoven himself at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna 1808. The orchestras present the original concert programme, including Beethoven’s Symphony No.5, Piano Concerto No.4 performed by Steven Osborne and Choral Fantasy with Llyr Williams (19 January, St David’s Hall).

Further Beethoven essentials across the season include Beethoven’s momentous Symphony No.3 Eroica in a concert pairing the work with Strauss’ elegy for strings Metamorphosen, which itself quotes from the Eroica (13 March, Brangwyn Hall & 15 March, St George’s Bristol) and the choral masterwork Missa Solemnis with the Orchestra and Chorus led by Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka (5 June, BBC Hoddinott Hall).

Artistic Highlights

In a season showcasing choral masterworks, BBC National Chorus of Wales lead performances of Verdi’s Requiem, conducted by Richard Farnes (3 October, St David’s Hall), Bruckner’s Mass in E minor, conducted by Adrian Partington (26 October, BBC Hoddinott Hall), Handel’s Messiah with WNO Orchestra conducted by Christoph Poppen (11 December, St David’s Hall) and J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, conducted by John Butt (9 April, Brangwyn Hall & 10 April, St David’s Hall).

The orchestra’s commitment to new music continues, as rising star Jess Gillam gives the premiere of Stravaganza, a new work for saxophone and orchestra by one of the world’s most recognised composers, Swansea-born Sir Karl Jenkins. Part of a programme that also features music by Charles Ives and two ballet scores, Debussy’s Jeux and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, the concert is conducted by the American Ryan Bancroft, whose past career as a dancer enlivens his interpretation of the programme (7 May, St David’s Hall and 8 May, Brangwyn Hall). The UK premiere of Judith Weir’s Oboe Concerto is performed by its dedicatee Celia Craig, former Principal Cor Anglais for BBC NOW, and a new arrangement of orchestral music from Wagner’s Parsifal receives its UK premiere, under the baton of its creator Andrew Gourlay (27 September, BBC Hoddinott Hall). The orchestra continue their exploration of neglected works with Grace Williams’ Violin Concerto, performed by Madeleine Mitchell (27 March, BBC Hoddinott Hall).

Guest artists joining BBC NOW for the 2019-20 season include violinists Ning Feng and Esther Yoo, pianists Huw Watkins and Llŷr Williams and cellists Alban Gerhardt and Anastasia Kobekina. Guest conductors include Jessica Cottis, Jaume Santonja, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Clemens Schuldt, Joseph Swenson and Anu Tali.

Welsh Collaborations

Welsh folk group Calan join BBC NOW to mark St David’s Day with a UK premiere of Cân Cnawd y Pridd – a suite of five compositions inspired by collections of traditional Welsh songs and tunes at the National Library of Wales. The suite is dedicated to the memory of Meredydd Evans - one of the most important song collectors of the 20th Century, and a titan of Welsh culture. The piece is a joint commission between BBC NOW and Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne (1 March, St David’s Hall).

As part of its autumn tour, a special concert in partnership with Pontio in Bangor, features Band Pres Llareggub and special guests, coming together to mark the 50th anniversary of seminal Welsh record label Recordiau Sain - known for its influence in the Welsh folk revival. Band leader Owain Roberts curates and conducts an evening of songs from Sain’s archive which will also be broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru, as BBC NOW celebrate the artists and music produced in the half century since the first single Dwr was released in 1969 (22 November, Pontio).

Festival highlights

BBC NOW performs at festivals across the UK and further afield, including five concerts at the BBC Proms 2019, four of which feature premieres. The orchestra joins the BBC Youth Ensemble for a special Late Night Prom curated by composer and lead guitarist of Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, in which he presents the world premiere of his new electronic-inspired work Horror vacui, alongside works by Biber, Penderecki and Reich (10 September, London). The orchestra and chorus give the world premiere of Welsh composer Huw Watkins’ The Moon with Tadaaki Otaka (8 August, London), Marcus Stenz conducts the UK premiere of a new concerto for two trumpets by Tobias Broström (25 July), and the orchestra joins the winner of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017, Catriona Morison, in a world premiere by Errollyn Wallen which pays homage to artist Howard Hodgkin (15 August). As always, BBC NOW and the BBC National Chorus of Wales join the annual spectacular Last Night of the Proms celebrations at BBC Proms in the Park in Singleton Park, Swansea. The summer also sees BBC NOW make appearances at St David’s Cathedral Festival performing Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 alongside Poulenc’s Organ Concerto in G minor (26 May). At Lichfield Festival the orchestra performs two major works, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto no. 1 and Elgar’s Enigma Variations (13 July). At the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, BBC NOW join together with the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and Three Cathedral Choirs Choristers for Joubert’s An English Requiem (30 July). The 2019-20 season sees BBC NOW perform at the Oxford Lieder Festival (11 October) and Bath MozartFest (16 November).

Learning and Education

A new project combining music and Makaton (a sign and symbol language programme) will see BBC NOW working with Canolfan Addysg y Bont on Anglesey in North Wales this autumn. Younger audiences can also enjoy a series of concerts designed to paint a picture in Newtown (22 September), Llandudno (22 March) and Cardiff (29 March), with live illustration from artist James Mayhew. During the concerts Mayhew’s work will be projected onto a screen so that the audience can watch the artwork being created in sync with the music.

This summer, BBC NOW joins together with local ensembles to help nurture the next generation of young musicians in Wales. A family-friendly concert at St David’s Cathedral showcases young singers and instrumentalists from Pembrokeshire (24 May, St David’s Cathedral), and workshops will take place to help the young musicians prepare for their performance. The Orchestra will also host the Six Counties Youth Music Strings featuring instrumentalists from Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Swansea and Neath/Port Talbot. A string ensemble from BBC NOW will mentor and coach the string players and the project will culminate in an evening side by side performance (15 July, BBC Hoddinott Hall). Discover More

BBC NOW’s Discover More returns with a new series of pre-concert talks and insight from Discovery Guide Jonathan James, who will be joined by conductors, soloists and musicians from the orchestra. Designed for newcomers and regular concert goers, the series includes explorations of Verdi’s operatic mastery, the art of ‘jazzical’ crossover, Sibelius’ breakthrough symphonic sound and connections between dance and music, and is supported by bespoke digital content.

Live Streams and Broadcasts

BBC NOW present a new season of live streamed performances from BBC Hoddinott Hall – beginning with Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (27 September). The orchestra will round the current season off with a live stream of Brahms’ Requiem, under the baton of Nathalie Stutzmann (28 June).

The orchestra’s concerts can regularly be heard on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC Radio Cymru and available to listen again on the BBC Sounds 30 days thereafter.


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