The Barbican Centre and Southbank Centre today announce that they are bringing Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker to London for a major residency in 2015. Following the great success of the orchestra’s London concerts series in 2011, the week-long residency will feature performances in the Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall from 10-15 February 2015. It will bring the two arts centres together in a series of concerts and in creative learning work with young people from a number of London boroughs, both north and south of the river Thames. Tickets go on sale to Barbican and Southbank Centre members on 9 December and to the general public on 11 December.

Sir Simon Rattle has chosen to mark his 60th birthday with this London residency, choosing music that has a special significance for him: a complete cycle of Sibelius’s seven symphonies in honour of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 and music by pioneering German composer Helmut Lachenmann. The residency is also a celebration of the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle, one of classical music’s most outstanding artistic partnerships, and a showcase of one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

At the core of the Barbican concerts (10, 11, 12 February) is the complete cycle of Sibelius’s symphonies, performed in sequence. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos joins the orchestra for Sibelius’s Violin Concerto on 11 February. Kavakos has a unique connection and insight to the work: he won the Sibelius violin competition in 1985 and has performed the work to great critical acclaim, including with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. Kavakos has also made a recording that includes both the concerto’s original 1903/04 version and its final 1905 version.

Southbank Centre’s concerts (13, 14 and 15 February) feature two performances in the Royal Festival Hall of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) with soloists Kate Royal (soprano) and Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano); and the London Symphony Chorus and City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus. Known as a signature work of Rattle’s, the symphony will be performed alongside Helmut Lachenmann’s Tableau in a juxtaposition of old and new sound-worlds that has typified Rattle’s tenure in Berlin. In addition to these performances there will also be: a family concert as part of Southbank Centre’s annual Imagine Children’s Festival, sponsored by The Book People, featuring the 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker (15 February 2015, on sale from 25 April 2014); and a chamber performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall by The Philharmonic Octet Berlin (13 February 2015, on-sale from 25 February 2014) when the group will perform Nielsen’s Serenata in vano, Berwald’s Septet and Schubert’s Octet.

Across the residency, the Barbican and Southbank Centre will join forces to bring together a young mixed-ability orchestra that represents London, working with local music hubs on both sides of the river Thames to recruit, rehearse, lead workshops and to mentor young people in the area. During a period of ten days these young people aged 7-25 will have the opportunity to make music together as a large orchestra and in a range of other formats. They will debate the value of music in society and the impact it has on their lives, whilst also exploring the music that the Berliner Philharmoniker will be performing and the relationship between London and Berlin. The culmination will be a performance at each of the two venues, led by Sir Simon Rattle. The residency also includes family concerts, chamber music and open masterclasses, to be announced in 2014.

Sir Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker since September 2002, said: Coming to London with the Berliner Philharmoniker feels like a homecoming, especially because we are performing repertoire that I love: Sibelius, Mahler and Lachenmann. I first heard Mahler's second symphony aged 11 in Liverpool, and it inspired me to become a conductor. This work was premiered by the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1895 and is at the heart of what this orchestra loves to perform. Sibelius' music is not frequently performed in Germany, and it is perhaps surprising that the rich, broad sounds of Sibelius really suit this orchestra – come and hear for yourself! I am thrilled that our friends at Southbank Centre and the Barbican are again working together to invite us to London. We will celebrate great music, a great orchestra, and the great work that these cultural centres do in bringing music to the next generation.

Gillian Moore, Head of Music at Southbank Centre said: It is a real pleasure to welcome back Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker to London for the London Residency in 2015. Building on the Berliner Philharmoniker's last visit in 2011, our two institutions will work together to create a wider series of projects that will enable more people – especially children and young people – to experience the orchestra up close through a learning programme focused on music-making. By working with the Barbican for this project we are able to offer our audiences the chance to hear one of the world's greatest musical relationships between conductor and orchestra.

Angela Dixon, Head of Music at the Barbican said: It’s a great privilege that Sir Simon Rattle has chosen London for his 60th birthday celebrations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and it is a pleasure to be co-hosting this London Residency with our colleagues at Southbank Centre. I can think of no better way to celebrate this musical partnership than with a major cycle of Sibelius’s symphonies – at the same time inaugurating the 150th anniversary year of one of the 20th century’s greatest composers. A commitment to work with young people has always been central to Sir Simon’s vision, and we are delighted to be working with young musicians from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and children from several London boroughs, giving them the chance to be inspired by one of the world’s best orchestras and its conductor.

 

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