Sunday 20 January 2013

Aurora Orchestra's amazing new season

Under principal conductor and artistic director Nicholas Collon, the Aurora Orchestra's 2013 season is their most ambitious to date, with a wide variety of events including performances at the South Bank Centre, being Associate Orchestra at LSO St. Lukes, Resident Orchestra at Kings Place, touring Britten's Church Parables and much more. In all there is a concern to mix contemporary and established repertoire, alongside a rather innovative, sideways view of programming which is rather refreshing. And yes, they are contributing to Britten 100, but in a rather distinctive way.

The season opens with the orchestra's Zeitgeist series at the South Bank Centre. 20 January sees them playing Schoenberg's first Chamber Symphony, a work which caused a riot in Vienna at its first performance. Ceramicist Edmund de Waal, whose family comes from Vienna, will be introducing the music, with works by Schoenberg, Strauss and Kreissler, and placing it in context. Then on 9 February, Dance of the Machines is a programme centred around Georges Antheil's Ballet mecanique (originally the soundtrack of a Dada-ist film!), with Josephine Baker cabaret songs and an excerpt from the pianola version of Rite of Spring!

On 9 June the orchestra will perform a programme based around Rudolph Barshai's arrangement of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 3 and their final South Bank Concert on 29 September is a major contribution to Britten 100 with Britten's complete surviving film scores performed alongside the original films with narration from Samuel West.

All in all this is a very striking series and shows the sort of imaginative programming that some bigger orchestras could well do to learn from; check the programme for the concert times as they are generally short early evening concerts.

As Associate Orchestra at LSO St. Lukes there will be a trio of concerts showcasing innovative collaborations and eclectic programming with Allan Clayton singing new arrangements of Ivor Gurney's Sleep and the Beatle's Blackbird, plus music by James MacMillan, Britten, Vivaldi and Ligeti (23 March); Charles Ives' Three places in New England (with a new film by John Frank), Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and Boulez's Memoriale (7 July); Glen Cortese's arrangement of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Imogen Holsts'  chamber orchestra arrangement of Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb (16 November).

Then at Kings Place, where the orchestra is resident from 2013, they will be performing Bach's St. John Passion (16 March) and Mass in B Minor (21 December), plus Echoes of Bach (20 April) and a new commission by Anna Meredith alongside Bach (19 October).

The orchestra will be touring a complete cycle of Britten's Church Parables with Mahogany Opera. The cast includes James Gilchrist, directed from the keyboard by Roger Vignoles and in a production directed by Frederic Wake-Walker. The productions tour to Southwark Cathedral, Aldeburgh and Buxton plus St. Petersburg. 

Instrumentalists from Aurora will be mentoring and joining instrumentalists from all over Sussex in the performances of Orlando Gough's Imago, Glyndebourne's new community opera which is being performed there from 7-9 March; Nicholas Collon conducts.

They are also appearing in Wallace and Gromit's Musical Marvels at the Apollo Hammersmith  and Brighton Dome, where Nicholas Collon is both conductor and presenter.

Full details of all the concerts on the Aurora Orchestra's website and you can see their brochure on-line at

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