Monday 9 March 2020

Intriguing companions: OOTS performs Django Bates, Bowie and Beethoven

Beethoven - OOTS - Rebel Rebel
Like many ensembles, the Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS) is celebrating Beethoven this year but the orchestra (artistic director David Le Page) is pairing Beethoven's music with some intriguing companions. In a two programmes which tour to Stratford, Hereford, London's Kings Place and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, OOTS is pairing Beethoven's Violin Concerto with a work by jazz composer Django Bates, his Umpteenth Concerto, and performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Grosse Fuge alongside arrangements of songs by David Bowie.

Violinist Thomas Gould is the soloist in Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Django Bates' Umpteenth Concerto, with conductor Eckehard Stier, in concerts at Stratford Playhouse (24/3/2020), The Courtyard, Hereford (26/3/2020), and Kings Place (3/4/2020). Bates, who is currently celebrating his 60th birthday and 40 years in the profession, has written four new cadenzas for Beethoven's concerto thus providing an intriguing link between the two works. Talking about his concerto, which has been newly revised for the concerts, Bates said:

"There are so many violin concertos in the world (often given numbers instead of names) that mine is perhaps the umpteenth. The piece explores infinity, as music often does. Umpteenth embraces melodious folk music from an imaginary land, pays homage to its great concerti predecessors (even offering a small Mendelssohn quote) and, above all, celebrates the violin and the drama which it can create."

Further ahead, OOTS is teaming up with composer/cellist Philip Sheppard to perform Beethoven's Grosse Fuge and Symphony No. 5 alongside Ashes to Ashes, a new work which sets David Bowie’s songs Station to Station, Lazarus, Fame, Aladdin Sane and Heroes for chamber orchestra, arranged by OOTS Artist Director David Le Page and composer/cellist Philip Sheppard. The programme Rebel Rebel is being performed at Stratford Playhouse (5/5/2020) and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (6/5/2020).

The idea behind the linking is to examine the enduring cultural relevance and legacy of two visionary artists, and the concert will be introduced by journalist Paul Morley.

Full details from the Orchestra of the Swan website.

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