Wednesday, 22 June 2016

St John's Smith Square - 2016/17 season launch

Christina McMaster at St John's Smith Square - photo Amy Ryan
Christina McMaster at St John's Smith Square
photo Amy Ryan
On Monday 20 June 2016, St John's Smith Square launched its 2016/17 season with an event at the hall which not only included an introduction to the season from the hall's director, Richard Heason, but also gave us a chance to hear performances from members of the Young Artists Scheme. 

The programme opened with David Titterington, Organ Curator at St John's Smith Square, playing Buxtehude's Toccata in D minor, BuxWV155, a large scale and stupendous piece. Then we heard from two of the 2016/17 Young Artists; pianist Christina McMaster played Debussy's Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir and Etude Pour les Octaves, and harpist Oliver Wass played De Falla's Spanish Dance. Finally violinist Joo Yeon Sir (a 2015/16 Young Artist), accompanied by Irina Andievsky, played Karl Jenkins' amazingly high-energy Chatterbox, a work which was commissioned for Joo Yeon Sir as part of the Young Artist Scheme.

The 2016/17 programme includes over 300 concerts; core to the hall's programme are the choral, vocal and period instrument performances, but there are also over 30 new works being performed, as well as the events involving the Young Artists.

Oliver Wass at St John's Smith Square - photo Amy Ryan
Oliver Wass at St John's Smith Square - photo Amy Ryan
Newcomers to the hall include Christoph Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques, and the Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments. Returning groups include Andrian Chandler and La Serenissima, who will be doing a series based on the Grand Tour, Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli Consort & Players who will be performing Handel's Dixit Dominus, and the London Bach Society's Bach Festival.

David Bates and La Nuova Musica will be performing Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Ann Murray, Bampton Classical Opera will be performing a double bill of Gluck operas, and Ian Page and Classical Opera will be performing Mozart's Apollo & Hycinthus and Die Schuldigkeit des erstens Gebots as part of their Mozart 250 series (which reaches 1767 next year).

Other groups include Howard Shelley and the London Mozart Players, Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra (who will be performing Brahms Symphony No. 1 from memory), the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Orchestra Nova who will be celebrating the 60th birthday of its conductor George Vass. Stephen Layton and the Holst Singers will be performing Handel's Jephtha, whilst the Tilbury Bach Festival perform the St John Passion.

New music includes performances from the London Sinfonietta, the Park Lane Group, Ensemble Variances, and Notes Inegales. Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra will be giving the premiere of new work by Philip Sawyers.

Regular series at the hall include the Thursday Lunchtime Concerts,  the Sunday at St John's chamber music series, as well as Martino Tirimo's Great Piano Quintets series. The Christmas Festival returns for its 31st outing, whilst the London International A Cappella Choir Competition will be returning with Arvo Pärt as the featured composer. There is a new Holy Week Festival which will combine concerts with free liturgical events including Matins and Tenebrae.  Next year's London Festival of Baroque Music will feature Baroque music on the edge.

The Southbank Centre is continuing its collaboration with a hall, a partnership born of necessity whilst the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room are closed but which has proved illuminating and fruitful on both sides. The programming next season will include a number of premieres from the London Sinfonietta, the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Future Firsts concerts as well as a Nordic Matters festival exploring music from the Nordic countries. The Southbank Centre's major festival Belief and Beyond Belief will also see events at the hall.

A number of the 2015/16 Young Artists will be returning in 2016/17 so that there will be concerts from the Gesualdo Six, the Ligeti Quartet, Tabea Debus and Joo Yeon Sir. And of course, there will be plenty of events featuring the 2016/17 Young Artists, Christina McMaster, Oliver Wass, Ensemble Mirage, Ferio Saxophone Quartet, Palisander Recorder Quartet, Minerva Piano Trio.

I am involved in a small way, as pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, whom I heard in Cologne (see my review) will be performing Bach's Art of Fugue with her own completion, and I will be giving a pre-concert talk about the new completion..

Full details of the whole season from the St John's Smith Square website.

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