Wednesday 1 July 2015

St John's Smith Square 2015/16 season launch

Tabea Debus at the St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
Tabea Debus at the St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
On Monday, St John's Smith Square had a launch for its action packed 2015/16 season. We heard from chairman Martin Smith and artistic director Richard Heason, who introduced the season. We also heard from Jude Kelly and Gillian Moore from the South Bank Centre because, during the two year closure period for the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, some of the South Bank's programming will be transferred to St John's Smith Square, in a remarkable example of collaboration between the two venues. The final speaker was the Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey. 

Of course, being the launch of concert hall there was also music. Soprano Katherine Watson was accompanied at the piano by Christian Curnyn, Director of the Early Opera Company, in Tristes apprets from Rameau's Castor et Pollux a lovely taster of their complete performance of Rameau's opera later in the year. And recorder player Tabes Debus, a St John's Smith Square Young Artist, played Moritz Eggert's Ausser atem for three recorders and one player, a truly remarkable tour de force.

Jude Kelly at the St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
Jude Kelly at the
St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars' 2000th concert (!) launches the second London International A Cappella Choir Competition. And the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival brings groups such as Chapelle du Roi, Siglo de Oro, Choir of Christchurch Cathedral, Ex Cathedra, Choir of Merton College, Ensemble Plus Ultra, and Choir of Clare College, Cambridge.

There is a wide range of Handel, including a number of rarities. Stephen Layton and the Holst Singers continue their Handel oratorio cycle with a performance of Handel's Solomon, whilst the Whitehall Choir is performing Handel's early and rarely performed oratorio Athalia, and a performance of another rarity Alexander Balus is also planned. Ian Bostridge joins the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a programme of music by Handel and Telemann. John Lubbock, the Orchestra of St Johns and OSJ Voices bring their annual performance of Handel's Messiah, as do Stephen Layton, Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. David Bates and La Nuova Music perform a programme based around Gloria settings by Vivaldi and Handel. Handel's diva Margherita Durastanti is celebrated by the Brook Street Band with soprano Nicki Kennedy

The music of the Bach family is also very much in evidence. Arcangelo performs Magnificat settings by three Bach's JC, JS and CPE, whilst Solomon's Knot is pairing Magnificat settings by JS Bach and Kuhnau, and Rachel Podger joins the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for violin concertos by Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi and Pisendel. The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are performing Bach's Mass in B Minor. Stephen Layton returns to conduct Bach's St John Passion with the choirs of Eton and Winchester Colleges, and the Academy of Ancient Music. The Artistic Director of St John's Smith Square, Richard Heason, takes to the podium for a Come and Sing Messiah with Smith Square Voices and Chartwell Sinfonia.

Ed Vaizey at the St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
Ed Vaizey at the
St John's Smith Square season launch 2015/16
Rare opera includes Bampton Classical Opera in Salieri's La grota di Trofonio and music by Benda and Linley, whilst Bury Court Opera performs music by Zelenka. Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company are performing Rameau's Castor et Pollux, whilst the London Mozart Players perform Stephen Oliver's realisation of Mozart's L'oca del Cairo as part of the London Mozart Players' Mozart Explored: 1783. Less rare, but no more delightful, Opera Danube is performing Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld.

The pianist Warren Mailley-Smith is giving an amazing eleven concert series performing the Chopin's complete works for solo piano, whilst pianist Martino Tirino is exploring the great piano quintets. The St John's Smith Square Young Artists Series includes groups as diverse as the Gesualdo Six, Ligeti Quartet, and Tabea Debus. The Park Lane Group's Young Artists Series will be presenting its own spring series, celebrating five great contemporary composers James MacMillan, Brett Dean, Helen Grime, Robin Holloway and Sally Beamish.

Other groups which perform as part of the season include Salomon Orchestra, Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Islington Choral Society, Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, and the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra.

The South Bank Centre's programming threads its way through the season as they bring their International Piano Series and International Chamber Music Series, plus concerts from the London Sinfonietta, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as part of Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra's Stravinsky series. Oliver Coates is curating a series Deep Minimalism which includes music by Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Spiegel and Galina Ustvolskaya.

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