LSM Newswire

Friday, January 9, 2009

Barbican Centre, Second half of Great Performers 2008/2009

Second half of Great Performers 2008/2009

The Barbican Centre's classical music season Great Performers continued punctually into the New Year on New Year's Day with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly returning for the second concert of their residency.

Following the recent orchestral poll put together by the Gramophone magazine, the Barbican was delighted to see so many of its regular guests in the top 20.

Robert van Leer, Head of Music and Arts Projects at the Barbican: "We are happy and proud to have a close relationship with the world's leading orchestras and for being able to welcome them back to perform as part of the Great Performers season. The Berlin Philharmonic were here last in 2007, the Vienna Philharmonic for several concerts in 2006 and in 2008, the Cleveland Orchestra in 2002, the Los Angeles Philharmonic for an unforgettable Sibelius Unbound festival in 2007, the Budapest Festival Orchestra in 2005 and the Dresden Staatskapelle in 2007. In the current season we have already witnessed a sold out concert with the St Petersburg Philharmonic and now look forward to a continuation of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra's residency with two concerts in 2009. In January and February the Mariinsky Theatre and its orchestra return for performances of three Russian operas. In March 2009 the no 1 of the list, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, comes to the Barbican for two concerts to celebrate Conductor Laureate Bernard Haitink's 80th birthday - only 9 months after the orchestra's previous appearance here. We also congratulate our Resident Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, for its fourth place in the poll."

10 January start of Die Stimme - Thomas Quasthoff

In 2009, Great Performers focuses on German baritone Thomas Quasthoff and his remarkably versatile voice. For the Barbican residency, Quasthoff chose music particularly close to his heart - repertoire that has played an important role to him throughout his career, and that enables him to get together on stage with some of his most esteemed friends and colleagues. The series begins on 10 January with Haydn's Creation, together with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and Ren Jacobs, and continues with Bach and Handel on 11 March with the Berliner Barocksolisten. On 5 April, Quasthoff performs in St Matthew Passion with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra - in the final concert of the orchestra's residency.

2009 Purcell, Handel and Haydn Celebration

The start of Die Stimme on 10 January also marks the start of the Barbican's year-long celebration of Purcell's 350th birthday, the 250th anniversary of Handel's death and the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death. A concert with Les Musiciens du Louvre and Marc Minkowski on 18 January celebrates all three composers by presenting their music dedicated to St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. Further performances in the series within 2008/09 include Handel's Samson (with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers on 12 February), Resurrezione (with Le Concert d'Astre and Emmanuelle Ham on 31 March), Arianna in Creta (with Academy of Ancient Music and Christopher Hogwood on 17 May) and Jephtha (with Gabrieli Consort & Players and Paul McCreesh on 24 June) as well as Purcell's King Arthur (with Le Concert Spirituel and Herv Niquet on 6 May). Renowned soloists of the repertoire such as Mark Padmore, Angelika Kirchschlager, Kate Royal, Christopher Purves and Lucy Crowe perform with these acclaimed ensembles - some of them in several roles throughout the celebration series.

30 January-1 February Mariinsky Theatre and Valery Gergiev

The Mariinsky Theatre is currently celebrating its 225th anniversary season and one of the occasions to mark the anniversary is a three opera residency at the Barbican. The Theatre that has witnessed many premieres of stage masterpieces during its long history brings a showcase of nearly 150 years of operatic tradition to the Barbican. All three operas are based on literary highlights and were first premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre: Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades (30 January), based on Pushkin's short story and premiered in 1860; Rubinstein's The Demon (31 January), after Lermontov's romantic poem and premiered in 1875; and Alexander Smelkov's The Brothers Karamazov (1 February, UK premiere), based on Dostoyevsky's last novel and premiered in July 2008.

Alexander Smelkov (b. 1950) belongs to the post-war generation of Russian composers who wanted to find their own voice in the midst of the ruling modernism. Smelkov himself strongly opposed avant-gardism which also shows in the musical style of his new opera. In two acts it focuses on the parable of the great inquisitor, the pivotal chapter in Dostoyevsky's novel, and has its UK premiere at the Barbican. The soloist cast in the three operas include internationally renowned singers such as Vladimir Galusin, Yevgeny Nikitin, Larissa Diadkova and Vassily Gorshkov.

March-May 2009 Beyond the Wall

Beyond the Wall is the Barbican's exploration of Chinese music, concentrating on the bridge between East and West and on the influence each has had on the other. Grammy and Oscar winning composer Tan Dun plays a central role as some of his works receive a UK premiere. Further highlights are the world premiere of a new work by Yuanlin Chen, founder of the first Computer and Electronic Music Studio in China, as well as a chamber opera by Liu Sola based on the story of her mother, a political writer.

BBC SO/Tan Dun/Anssi Karttunen 21 March 2009 / 19:30, Barbican Hall

Tan Dun: The Map (UK premiere), Concerto for Cello, Video and Orchestra

"Sometimes the purpose of returning to your roots is to invent," says Tan, "to see how those roots have continued to grow." The Map is written for a full symphony orchestra with cello soloist and three screens placed at different points about the stage. In a similar manner as Bartk and Kodly at the beginning of the 20th century, Tan Dun elaborates traditional music from his native China to music of his own time: The video performers are traditional musicians from the Hunan province including leaf blowers and cry-singers, and the live orchestra and soloist play with and against the music/visuals on the screen. The performance is conducted by the composer himself.

LSO/Daniel Harding/Tan Dun/Lang Lang 21 April 2009 / 19:30, Barbican Hall

Tan Dun: Piano Concerto (UK premiere), Mahler: Symphony No 1
Premiered in New York in April 2008, the piano concerto with the title "The Fire" was dedicated to Lang Lang
and inspired by Tan Dun's love for the martial arts. For Tan, Lang Lang embodies the qualities of a martial arts master in his playing.

Lang Lang/Silk Strings (Cheng Yu, pipa; Sun Zhuo, guzheng; Hu Bin, erhu; Zhou Jinyan, yangqin) 23 April 2009 / 20:00 LSO St Lukes

Dragon Songs

Together with Lang Lang, the London-based Chinese quartet Silk Strings and jazz composer Raymond Yiu mix traditional Chinese music with their own contemporary interpretations.

Kronos Quartet, Wu Man (pipa) 10 May 2009 / 19:30, Barbican Hall

Tan Dun: Ghost Opera

Yuanlin Chen: New work (world premiere, co-commissioned by the Barbican)

Ghost Opera is a five movement work for string quartet and pipa, with water, metal, stone and paper. Tan Dun describes the work as a reflection on human spirituality. He was inspired by childhood memories of the shamanistic "ghost operas" of the Chinese peasant culture. In this over 4000 year old tradition, humans and spirits of the future, the past, and nature communicate with each other.

12 May 2009 / LSO St Lukes

Liu Sola (libretto and music): The Afterlife of Li Jiantong

A chamber opera based on the story of Liu Sola's own mother Li Jiantong, an historical and political writer. Although highly respected by many Chinese, Li Jiantong's books were banned all her life. Her first book, published in the 1960's, was criticised by Mao and subsequently banned. During the Cultural Revolution, she was investigated, illegally jailed, subjected to fierce interrogations and eventually sent off to work in the fields. After her death, her spirit came to her daughter Liu Sola. This chamber opera is about her three visitations.

January - June 2009 Further Great Performers

24 January 2009, Orchestre des Champs Elyses/Herreweghe/Isserlis

The period instrument ensemble Orchestre des Champs Elyses and its founder and artistic director Philippe Herreweghe celebrate Mendelssohn's 200th birthday at the Barbican with two of his "Scottish" works: Hebrides Overture "Fingal's Cave" and Symphony No 3, are combined with Schumann's Cello Concerto featuring Steven Isserlis.

5 February and 15 March 2009, Murray Perahia

One of the most sought-after pianists of our time and a leading figure on stage for over three decades, Murray Perahia returns to the Barbican Hall in February with Brahms' Handel Variations, alongside one of Beethoven's most celebrated piano sonatas, the Appassionata and Bach's Partita in B flat, no 1. In March, he performs Schumann's piano concert together with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and Bernard Haitink in the second performance of the orchestra's two-concert Barbican visit.

6 February 2009, Ben Heppner and Thomas Muraco

Canadian tenor Ben Heppner has chosen a unique mix of works for his Great Performers debut appearance. Together with pianist Thomas Muraco he moves between intimate songs and dramatic arias by Schubert, Strauss, Britten, Duparc, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Denza.

24 February 2009, Minnesota Orchestra/Vnsk/Bell

A strong American theme runs through the Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vnsk's programme: John Adams Slonimsky's Earbox and Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto (with American Joshua Bell) are combined with Beethoven's Symphony No 3, 'Eroica'.

4 March 2009, Le Jardin des Voix

William Christie and Les Arts Florissants return to the Barbican to showcase the next generation of top singers from around the world. Organised every second season, the programme "Le Jardin des Voix" offers young professional singers the opportunity to study the Baroque period with Les Arts Florissants and to participate in a prestigious international tour of which this performance is a part.

29 March 2009, Andreas Scholl and Basel Chamber Orchestra

Countertenor Andreas Scholl's early career was influenced and mentored by Great Performers artists Ren Jacobs and William Christie. Now an internationally acclaimed performer and teacher himself, he is established as a Baroque specialist with an extensive discography. At the Barbican he performs together with the Basel Chamber Orchestra works by Vivaldi and Locatelli.

1 April 2009, Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa

Celebrated American violinist and Grammy winner still in her twenties, Hilary Hahn gives her Great Performers debut with works for solo violin as well as for violin and piano by Ysae, Ives, Brahms and Bartk including Brahms' Hungarian Dances and Bartk's Romanian Folk Dances.

26 April 2009, Lang Lang

Following his concerts during the Beyond The Wall festival, Lang Lang returns to the Barbican with a piano recital on 26 April. This is part of "UBS Soundscapes: Lang Lang" and his artist focus with the London Symphony Orchestra.

20 May 2009, Oslo Philharmonic/Saraste/Mutter

Esteemed interpreter of the classical violin repertoire and champion of new works written for her, Anne-Sophie Mutter performs Mendelssohn's last great orchestral work the Violin Concerto with the Oslo Philharmonic and Music Director Jukka-Pekka Saraste at the Barbican. The programme also includes Bartk's Suite from The Wooden Prince and Ravel's La Valse.

5 June 2009, Evgeny Kissin

Following Mark Morris' production of Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending in the Barbican Theatre and the LSO's performance of the full score in the Barbican Hall in November 2008, Evgeny Kissin returns to the Barbican to play Three Pieces from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet for the piano. The programme of his second concert at the Barbican this season also includes Prokofiev's Sonata No 8 as well as Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie, Mazurkas and Etudes.

12 June 2009, Deborah Voigt

Preeminent dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt, best known for charismatic performances on opera stages, comes to the Barbican to sing from operas by Wagner, Strauss and Beethoven. The London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Asher Fisch, a former assistant to Daniel Barenboim.

13 June 2009, Weill's
Die Dreigroschenoper

Klangforum Wien, Austria's premier ensemble for contemporary music brings Kurt Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper to the Barbican Hall. Conducted by H K Gruber, the stellar cast includes Great Performer favourites Dorothea Rschmann, Angelika Kirchschlager and Ian Bostridge.

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