Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director Marios Papadopoulos announce their 2019/20 season, which sees the Orchestra make its US debut at New York's Carnegie Hall. In 2020, the Orchestra embarks on a year-long comprehensive Beethoven celebration that brings the composer's complete symphonies, concertos and major orchestral and chamber works to Oxford, with guest appearances from Maxim Vengerov, Mischa Maisky, Sergei Babayan, and many more.

The Orchestra welcomes a cast of world-renowned soloists, conductors and academics to Oxford throughout the season, including Evgeny Kissin, Lisa Batiashvili, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Angela Gheorghiu, Sir Bryn Terfel, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Professor Marcus du Sautoy, as well as no less than eight of the Orchestra's own soloists. The Orchestra appears at New York's Carnegie Hall on Monday 4 May 2020 in a landmark visit to America, its first appearance in the country.

Evgeny Kissin joins the Orchestra for the first time to perform Liszt's virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2 to open the season on Saturday 5 October 2019 while 20-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason performs Saint-Saëns's first cello concerto in Oxford (Saturday 2 November 2019) and Cheltenham Town Hall (Thursday 31 October 2019). Sir Antonio Pappano makes his Oxford Philharmonic debut with Glazunov's inventive Violin Concerto alongside Concertmaster Carmine Lauri as soloist to bring 2019 to a close (Friday 20 December) in an all-Russian programme that also includes Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Marios Papadopoulos draws on the expertise of Oxford academic Professor Marcus du Sautoy to cultivate an enriching programme of mathematical and musical connections at Saffron Hall (Wednesday 16 October 2019) and Oxford (Thursday 17 October 2019). Du Sautoy, the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, joins the Orchestra to uncover the numerical magic behind Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, L. 86, Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste and Stravinsky's Symphony in C, following his appearance with the Orchestra in 2018.

Trumpeter Paul Merkelo performs concertos by Haydn and Leopold Mozart (Thursday 14 November 2019), in a historical programme also featuring Haydn's 'Oxford' Symphony No. 92, a work which received its moniker following the 1791 ceremonial performance during which the degree of Doctor of Music was conferred on Haydn by Oxford University. Leopold Mozart's Trumpet Concerto is performed by Merkelo on the composer's 300th birthday.

Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili performs Berg's Violin Concerto on Friday 17 January alongside Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony No. 8 and Brahms' Symphony No. 4. Co-Concertmaster Yuri Zhislin performs Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto on Thursday 27 February 2020 while an all-Sibelius programme sees Associate Concertmaster Anna-Liisa Bezrodny perform the composer's Violin Concerto on Thursday 12 March 2020, conducted by Douglas Boyd. Maxim Vengerov performs Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 on Thursday 30 April 2020 in a programme also featuring Brahms' Symphony No. 1.

A focus on Richard Strauss sees the Orchestra perform two of the composer's concertos for wind instruments, as Solo Horn Pip Eastop performs Strauss' dashing Horn Concerto under the baton of Orchestra Patron Vladimir Ashkenazy (Sunday 24 November 2019) and Solo Oboe Clara Dent performs his Oboe Concerto on Friday 19 June 2020 in a programme with a second half of Wagner, featuring Sir Bryn Terfel. Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu comes to the Sheldonian Theatre on Sunday 28 June 2020 to perform arias from Otello and Don Carlo with the Orchestra in a programme also featuring the Rigoletto Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra by the Orchestra's own Solo Cello Mats Lidström.

From January 2020, the Orchestra begins a year-long celebration of Beethoven to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth, presenting the composer's complete symphonies and concertos alongside a chamber programme of all-Beethovian recitals held across the city. Beethoven was born in Bonn, which is twinned with Oxford, making the English city the ideal home of a comprehensive 2020 Festival of musical, academic and cultural events.

Marios Papadopoulos directs three of Beethoven's piano concertos from the keyboard (25 January, 6 & 13 February 2020), pairing the concertos with the composer's Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 5, and 7, a feat he repeats here following the Orchestra's 2008 Beethoven Festival and 15th anniversary season (2013-14). The 2020 Festival builds upon the successes of these previous ventures and is crowned on Tuesday 12 May 2020 as Papadopoulos and the Orchestra are joined by Maxim Vengerov, Mischa Maisky, and Sergei Babayan for the composer's striking 'Triple' concerto.

Beyond the full symphonic cycle, the Festival also features a full concert performance of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, on Sunday 31 May 2020 with Emma Bell as Leonore and Andrew Staples as Florestan. Greek-American conductor Peter Tiboris joins the Orchestra on Wednesday 1 July 2020 in Beethoven's Mass in C major and his Overture to Die Weihe des Hauses, with soprano Eilana Lappalainen also performing the composer's concert aria Ah, perfido.

A special performance on Friday 5 June 2019 – United Nations World Environment Day – sees the Orchestra join a worldwide initiative to create a 'Pastoral for the Planet' by performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 and highlighting the need for a global effort to meet the challenges of climate change and ensure sustainable development for all. The symphony will be presented at the Oxford Town Hall with leading climate experts drawing on the city's strengths as a global centre for knowledge, learning and research. The green-thumbed programme is given a local twist with former Oxford student George Butterworth's The Banks of Green Willow and Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, performed by Charlotte Scott, Associate Concertmaster of the Orchestra.

The Orchestra continues to nurture upcoming talent from the University of Oxford, frequently performing under the baton of Assistant Conductor and DPhil student Hannah Schneider. A new Side-by-Side scheme is inaugurated under Schneider, allowing outstanding young instrumentalists from the University and local area to perform alongside members of the Orchestra for selected works each season.

Works by two current Oxford students, Grace-Evangeline Mason and Carol J Jones, are performed during the season, on Thursday 30 April and Friday 19 June 2020. They were both selected from the Composers' Workshop 2019, part of the Oxford Philharmonic's Residency Programme at the University of Oxford. The Orchestra renews its sought-after £5 student ticket scheme which has seen students in full-time education buy 23.85% of tickets in the 2017/18 season thanks to the Student Access Scheme, generously funded by trusts and foundation including the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

"£5 tickets have, hand to heart, been amazing – it's given me an accessibility to classical music that my friends at other universities can only dream of, and also stoked a passion for the genre that I didn't have before." – Undergraduate Student at Jesus College

The Orchestra is joined by world-renowned college choirs from the University including a festive celebration on Thursday 12 December 2019 as the Choirs of Magdalen and New College perform Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols with soloist Roderick Williams, and John Rutter's Visions under the baton of the composer. Maundy Thursday (Thursday 9 April 2020) is marked as the Orchestra perform Bach's St John Passion with the Choir of The Queen's College, under conductor Owen Rees. The Orchestra returns to Merton College Chapel on Saturday 11 July 2020 for a summertime programme of works by Foote, Tzánou, Suk, and Mendelssohn's D minor Violin Concerto with Concertmaster Natalia Lomeiko and conductor Kypros Markou.

The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra's main orchestral venue, the Grade I listed Sheldonian Theatre, was built between 1664 and 1668 after a design by Sir Christopher Wren. Handel conducted the first performance of his third Oratorio Athalia there in 1733, and Haydn's Symphony No. 92 – subsequently nicknamed the 'Oxford' – was performed here in the presence of the composer following his acceptance of a Doctorate. The Theatre seats 800 and provides a unique and engaging experience for audience and musicians alike.

The Orchestra also visits venues such as Merton College and Oxford Town Hall, where performances including three FUNomusica family concerts will take place during the season.

 

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