The season is renowned for bringing the finest orchestras from around the world to the Scottish capital, accompanied by exceptional soloists at the height of their talents.
Starting in October, the mighty Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off the 2019-20 season with an all-Russian programme of exceptional power and tenderness. Acclaimed young Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu, is soloist in Rachmaninov’s tear-jerking Second Piano Concerto, made famous by the film Brief Encouter. Two weeks later the Flanders Symphony Orchestra, one of Belgium’s finest ensembles, makes a triumphant return to Edinburgh after its 2016 Usher Hall concert was greeted with such enormous acclaim. Joining them is global superstar guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, conjuring the rich colours and intoxicating perfumes of Spain in Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.
November sees a visit from The Prague Symphony Orchestra, bringing with it all its renowned energy and vigour to Mahler’s epic Third Symphony, under Finnish Chief Conductor and fast-rising star Pietari Inkinen. They are joined by the superb Czech mezzo-soprano Ester Pavlů and a local Edinburgh chorus for what promises to be a truly unforgettable experience.
The first concert of 2020 welcomes one of the world’s most revered musicians, Joshua Bell, and The Academy of St Martin in the Fields back to the Usher Hall after their stupendous 2018 performance. Bell is soloist in Bach’s deeply lyrical A minor Violin Concerto, and directs the motoric rhythms of the much-loved Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.
With a population of barely half a million, it’s remarkable that Iceland can produce such an outstanding international ensemble as the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. In February, they bring with them to their Usher Hall debut South Korean pianist and fast-rising star Yeol Eum Son, for one of the most unusual – and most demanding – concertos in the repertoire, Ravel’s darkly jazzy Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Their Scandinavian cousins, the Swedish Philharmonia, come to Edinburgh in March to perform Sibelius’s majestic, magnificent Fifth Symphony. Accompanying them is Russian-born violinist Viktoria Mullova as soloist in her compatriot Prokofiev’s captivating Second Violin Concerto, full of dark comedy, child-like fantasy and even a taste of Spain in its madcap finale.
British-born pianist Freddy Kempf is a regular and much-loved visitor to the Usher Hall – a remarkable musician who plays from the heart, with delicacy, insight and shattering energy. He joins the Siberian Symphony Orchestra in April under fine Russian conductor Dmitri Vasiliev for one of the iconic showpieces in the piano repertoire - Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto.
Muscular musicality; bristling energy; an unmistakable Russian sound. The St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra is one of Russia’s finest, returning to the Usher Hall in May with eminent Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa. Ogawa is one of the musical world’s experts at blending athletic power and delicate poetry, both qualities firmly on display in the spectacular keyboard pyrotechnics of Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto.
Bringing the season to a triumphant close on 19 June is the Brussels Philharmonic. Leading conductor Stéphane Denève is a firm favourite with Scottish audiences from his years as Music Director of the RSNO. But his new orchestra – the Brussels Philharmonic – is steadily becoming a cherished visitor too, following its several remarkable performances in Edinburgh. Brilliant French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is one of the starriest keyboard names around, and he’s soloist in Liszt’s fiery Piano Concerto No. 2, blending ever-changing moods of intimacy and flamboyance and closing the Sunday Classics season in style.
Karl Chapman, Cultural Venues Manager at Usher Hall said: “We are thrilled to announce another Sunday Classics season, packed full of the best orchestras, soloists and conductors in the world today. Sunday Classics has become an integral part of the Scottish classical music scene, and it’s fantastic that the Usher Hall can offer such an unrivalled variety of international talent to the music-lovers of Edinburgh and Scotland in a concert hall with some of the very best acoustics around. This season we welcome old friends and new. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields make a triumphant return to the Hall led by their Music Director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell. We are also tremendously excited to welcome the likes of Yuri Simonov at the helm of the Moscow Philharmonic, guitar hero Miloš Karadaglić with Flanders Symphony and pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet with Brussels Philharmonic. We know that the amazing Edinburgh audiences will leave them wanting to come back!”
Councillor Donald Wilson, Convener of Culture and Communities, said: “I have eagerly awaited the new 2019/20 programme for the Sunday Classics season at the Usher Hall. The venue lends itself well to classical music and the tradition of concert-going continues as strongly as ever. It’s a genuine pleasure to sit back in the auditorium and be immersed in the beautiful music and fine performances of these first class orchestras from around the world.”