Wednesday 1 September 2021

Finns to the fore: the Philharmonia's new season showcases new principal conductor, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and featured artist, violinist Pekka Kuusisto

Santtu-Matias Rouvali and the Philharmonic (Photo Kaupo Kikkas)
Santtu-Matias Rouvali and the Philharmonic (Photo Kaupo Kikkas)

It is all change at the head of many of the UK's orchestras, and this season Santtu-Matias Rouvali takes over as principal conductor of the Philharmonia. Not surprisingly, the orchestra's 2021/22 season very much showcases the young (born 1985!) Finnish conductor. He opens the season with a pair of concerts which include orchestral showpieces from Richard Strauss and Stravinsky alongside the UK premiere of Bryce Dessner's Violin Concerto (with Pekka Kuusisto) and music by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas (1889-1940). 

Pekka Kuusisto is a featured artist for the season and he reappears as soloist in Sibelius' Violin Concerto, music by Vivaldi (guess what) and conducting the premiere of a new piece by Isobel Waller-Bridge, as well as curating the Philharmonia's Music of Today series with works by Gabriella Smith, John Luther Adams and Anna Thorvaldsdottír.

Philip Glass' film environmental film Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance will be screened in the Royal Festival Hall with the score played live with conductor Michael Riesman, Synergy Vocals and the Philip Glass Ensemble. The film is part of the orchestra's Human / Nature: Music for a Precious Planet series which looks at  how composers across the centuries have responded to the natural world, and exploring the ways today's composers are addressing the global climate crisis. 

Other new works in the season include the premieres of Gabriel Jackson's The Promise and Richard Blackford's Vision of a Garden performed as part of conductor David Hill's concert with the Bach Choir, Fauré’s Requiem: Music for Reflection and Hope. 

Rouvali returns during the season conducting more Strauss, Wagner's The Ring without Words, Sibelius, Beethoven, Rossini, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. Other artists include Elim Chan conducting RVW, Brahms, Prokofiev and Gabriella Smith, Xhiang Chang conducting Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with Dame Sarah Connolly and Andreas Schrager, Andras Schiff directing Mozart from the keyboard, and Philippe Herreweghe conducting Bach, Mozart and Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 with Steven Isserlis.

Full details from the Philharmonia's website.

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