• Great international artists including Marin Alsop, Cecilia Bartoli, Jiří Bělohlávek, Max Emanuel Cencic, Riccardo Chailly, Natalie Dessay, Gustavo Dudamel , Renée Fleming, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Evgeny Kissin, Magdalena Kožená, Julia Lezhneva, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Michael Nyman, Sakari Oramo, Sir Simon Rattle, Maxim Vengerov, Rolando Villazón and many more
  • International residencies from Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Bach Collegium Japan
  • Composer focuses on John Adams, Thomas Adès, Louis Andriessen, George Benjamin, Henri Dutilleux, Henryk Górecki and Oliver Knussen
  • The world premiere of Lost in Thought – the world’s first ‘mindfulness opera’ which – over the course of four hours – takes audiences on an inner journey of mindfulness with periods of meditation, rest, communal eating and a gentle yoga session
  • Barbican and LSO presenting a semi-staged production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and directed by Peter Sellars
  • The BBC Symphony Orchestra joining forces with Opera Rara for Leoncavallo’s Zazà and Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini and presenting the UK premiere of Louis Andriessen’s large scale opera La Commedia as part of the Andriessen composer focus
  • The Dark Mirror – Zender’s Winterreise with Ian Bostridge performing alongside Britten Sinfonia in a new theatrical re-imagining of the original Schubert work, staged by Netia Jones
  • The world premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ LSO-commissioned Violin Concerto, written for and performed by Nicola Benedetti
  • The conclusion of the AAM’s three-year cycle of semi-staged Monteverdi operas with the rarely performed Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria featuring an outstanding cast including acclaimed tenor Ian Bostridge

    Today the Barbican announces its new 2015–16 classical music season. An agenda-setting programme showcases the best from across the globe, with a strong emphasis on the innovative music of today and a forward-looking approach to the greatest music from the past. At the core of the richly varied music programme are the Centre’s Resident Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and Associate Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, complemented by the Barbican Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia. Barbican International Associates Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Los Angeles Philharmonic return to the Centre for their third and second residencies respectively.

    Huw Humphreys, the Barbican’s Head of Music, said: I hope that audiences will find our new classical music season inspiring, adventurous and rewarding. With our Resident and Associate Orchestras and Ensembles, we have brought together performances of beloved works in thought-provoking interpretations and revived some perhaps unjustly neglected repertoire. We push programming frontiers with new composer commissions and present the very best of new music from overseas. International orchestral residencies, artist spotlights and composer portraits showcase many sides to musical personalities and give audiences a chance to delve deeper, in a season that is fully complemented by an excellent range of learning programmes. Traditional boundaries of the concert hall are challenged by ground breaking cross-arts collaborations and the cream of artists from across the globe perform on our stages alongside the very best of British talent.

    The Barbican’s new classical music season opens in September 2015. Tickets go on sale online to Barbican members from 26 January 2015 and to the general public on 4 February 2015. Full listings information here: barbican.org.uk/classical1516

    HIGHLIGHTS

    Barbican Presents – the Barbican’s own-curated classical music season comprising the very best international ensembles and artists. 2015-16 includes Barbican International Associate residencies from Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the first major UK residency from Bach Collegium Japan.

    Renée Fleming is the subject of a Barbican Artist Spotlight with the season also featuring Cecilia Bartoli & Rolando Villazón in concert and Natalie Dessay in recital. The world premiere of Lost in Thought: A Mindfulness Opera takes audiences on a pioneering inner journey of mindfulness, and the Barbican and the LSO under Sir Simon Rattle present a semi-staged Peter Sellars production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. The Dark Mirror – Zender’s Winterreise sees Ian Bostridge perform alongside Britten Sinfonia in a new theatrical re-imagining of the original Schubert work, staged by Netia Jones.

    Alongside the Bach Collegium Japan, the season’s Baroque strand includes conductor Laurence Equilbey and her Insula Orchestra in their London debut, with further concerts featuring Monterverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria with the AAM; two Handel concerts – both featuring outstanding casts – with Il Pomo d’Oro orchestra performing Tamerlano and The English Concert performing Orlando; and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra with Sir John Elliot Gardiner in a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion on Easter weekend.

    Composer focuses this season are on Louis Andriessen and George Benjamin – both in collaboration with members of the Barbican family of orchestras and ensembles.

    Solo recitals in the Barbican Hall include performances from pianists Stephen Hough, Simon Trpčeski, Arcadi Volodos, Evgeny Kissin and Murray Perahia and a recital by violinist Maxim Vengerov.

    A Barbican Presents programme at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Milton Court Concert Hall sees the return of the ECHO Rising Stars Series, as well as special projects with pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Steven Osborne, Leif Ove Andsnes and Angela Hewitt, the latter teaming up in a special event with author Julian Barnes. An immersive Shostakovich Day curated by Gerard McBurney and featuring the Casals Quartet, will focus on the composer’s mid-period quartets and the complete piano Preludes and Fugues.

    A series of film and music events includes audio-visual work directed and composed by Michael Nyman, and Drawing Life – a dramatised song cycle composed by Jocelyn Pook based on the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly.

    London Symphony Orchestra – The LSO’s 2015-16 season will open on 15, 20 and 23 September 2015 with concerts conducted by Bernard Haitink featuring Mozart and Beethoven Piano Concertos with Murray Perahia as soloist and Symphonies by Bruckner, Schubert, Mahler and Brahms. LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev explores Bartók and Stravinsky, with performances of the former’s The Miraculous Mandarin, Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3 with soloist Yefim Bronfman, and Concerto for Orchestra. Stravinsky’s The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, Symphony in C major, and Chant du rossignol complete the programmes on 9, 11 and 18 October. Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO in six concerts this season. A semi-staged performance of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, directed by Peter Sellars (9 & 10 Jan) is followed by a programme of music by Ravel, Dutilleux and Delage (13 Jan). Rattle then conducts Bruckner and Messiaen on 14 April, Haydn’s The Seasons on 17 April and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 with soloist Krystian Zimerman on 30 June. On 26 June Rattle conducts the LSO in the world premiere of a new children’s opera by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, featuring the LSO Discovery choirs and the LSO Community Choir. The world premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ LSO-commissioned Violin Concerto, written for Nicola Benedetti, will be performed on 6 November, conducted by James Gaffigan. LSO Principal Guest Conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Daniel Harding are both featured in the 2015-16 season, as are Sir Mark Elder, Sir Antonio Pappano, and François-Xavier Roth. Composers John Adams and Thomas Adès will conduct the LSO in their own works and the LSO marks the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death with three concerts featuring music inspired by the great author, with conductors Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Gianandrea Noseda. Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is the LSO Artist Portrait in 2015-16, performing concertos with the Orchestra, and in recital in the Barbican in May and at Milton Court in June 2016. For full details of the LSO’s 2015-16 Barbican season see www.lso.co.uk/201516season

    BBC Symphony Orchestra – Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra Sakari Oramo conducts six concerts in his third season at the helm of the orchestra. A champion of British music, Oramo leads the BBC SO in Elgar’s first and second symphonies alongside the music of fellow British composers Butterworth and Bax (13 Apr). Opera and choral music remain integral to the BBC SO’s season and following their hugely successful production of Donizetti’s Belisario in 2012 the orchestra joins forces once again with Opera Rara for Leoncavallo’s Zazà (27 Nov)and Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini (11 May). Louis Andriessen’s large scale opera La Commedia will also be given its UK premiere (12 Feb). The BBC Symphony Orchestra remains committed to new music with world premieres from Richard Ayres (8 Oct), Richard Dubugnon (26 Feb), and Joseph Phibbs (21 May) and UK premieres from George Benjamin (18 Mar), Anna Clyne (15 Jan), James Macmillan (4 Dec) and Andrew Norman (11 Dec) amongst others. In his role as the orchestra’s Artist in Association, Brett Dean will also take to the stage to perform his own Viola Concerto (13 Apr). There are three Total Immersion days, focussing on the life and music of three towering figures of contemporary classical music: Henryk Górecki (3 Oct), Louis Andriessen (13 Feb) and Henri Dutilleux (30 Apr). In a typically eclectic BBC SO season, the orchestra also gives the London premieres of versions of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes and ‘Passacaglia’ from Peter Grimes performed alongside film projections by BAFTA-winning artist Tal Rosner (2 Mar).

    Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) –The AAM 2015-16 London season opens on 29 September with a semi-staged performance of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria featuring acclaimed tenor Ian Bostridge and directed from the harpsichord by Richard Egarr AAM Music Director, marking the end of the AAM’s three-year cycle of semi-staged Monteverdi operas (29 Sep). Further concerts with Richard Egarr include a festive performance of the complete Christmas Oratorio by JS Bach with soloists Elizabeth Watts, Barbara Kozelj, James Gilchrist and Ashley Riches (22 Dec), an evening exploring Vivaldi’s wide-reaching continental influence and a performance of one of Handel’s most popular dramatic works Acis and Galatea in its original ‘Cannons’ version featuring Andrew Tortise and Rowan Pierce (21 May). The AAM focuses on two of its principal players, Pavlo Beznosiuk and Bojan Čičić, who lead the orchestra for two fascinating concerts: the first explores rare usages of the minor mode in the classical era (19 Oct), while the second presents a programme of music inspired by visions of the divine (20 Nov). In March 2016 celebrated Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie returns to lead the orchestra in a programme of Lenten and Passiontide cantatas. Soprano Lucy Crowe joins conductor Reinhard Goebel in June 2016 for a programme celebrating the Bach family’s legacy.

    Britten Sinfonia – Barbican Associate Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia’s typically bold 2015-16 season embraces the Baroque, jazz and modernist masters, with the orchestra joined by an outstanding line-up of guest artists, including Ian Bostridge, Colin Currie, Iestyn Davies, Benjamin Grosvenor, Oliver Knussen, Steven Osborne, jazz legend Eddie Gomez and director Netia Jones. Contemporary music holds sway with works by composers including Louis Andriessen, James MacMillan and Simon Bainbridge. The orchestra’s TAKE TWO double-bill artist portraits feature two of contemporary music’s towering figures: composers Louis Andriessen, and Oliver Knussen, who conducts and curates the opening concerts of the season, featuring works by Mozart, Berg and Stravinsky (October 2015). Winding an illuminating path through Andriessen’s distinctive output and his musical influences, Britten Sinfonia’s tribute to the Dutch composer includes masterful song cycle La Passione, Tapdance, with soloist Colin Currie and the ethereal Dances (February 2016). Legendary bassist Eddie Gomez and award-winning pianist, Steven Osborne, join Britten Sinfonia in a EFG London Jazz Festival concert that walks the fine line between jazz and classical, including a new work by composer Simon Bainbridge and works by Stravinsky, Frank Zappa and Bill Evans, conducted by Kristian Järvi (November 2015). Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor makes his Britten Sinfonia debut, directing from the keyboard Mozart’s last Piano Concerto No.27 K595 in a concert that also celebrates Britten Sinfonia’s charismatic leader Jacqueline Shave’s first decade with the orchestra. Ian Bostridge, Netia Jones and Britten Sinfonia re-unite for The Dark Mirror – Zender’s Winterreise, a new staged production in the Barbican Theatre (May). Christmas sweetmeats are provided by a sparkling line-up for Handel’s Messiah including Iestyn Davies, Carolyn Sampson, Allan Clayton and Christopher Purves (December). Easter 2016 is celebrated by James MacMillan’s dramatic Seven Last Words from the Cross, and music by Shostakovich, Byrd and Bach, with Britten Sinfonia Voices conducted by Eamonn Dougan (March).

    BARBICAN PRESENTS

    International Residencies

    The Barbican’s international residencies continue to set the agenda for new models of programming, each a showcase for distinctive special projects that display the best of the orchestra in a context deepened by supporting activities. Barbican Presents 2015-16 sees International Associate residencies from the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition, Bach Collegium Japan will come to the Barbican for their first major UK residency.

    The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig – one of Europe’s longest-established ensembles – returns to the Barbican for its third International Associate residency from 20 – 23 October 2015. Building on the critical acclaim for the Beethoven and Brahms symphony cycles in 2011 and 2013, this season, Gewandhauskapellmeister Riccardo Chailly leads the orchestra in three concerts devoted to Mozart and Richard Strauss. The greatest tone poems by Strauss – including Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben, Macbeth, Also sprach Zarathustra, Tod und Verklärung, and Till Eulenspiegel – are contrasted with Mozart concertos with three outstanding soloists: pianist Maria João Pires, violinist Christian Tetzlaff and clarinettist Martin Fröst.

    In a very special event, Maestro Chailly will be in conversation with Barbican Managing Director Sir Nicholas Kenyon at Milton Court Concert Hall, followed by a performance with musicians from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and players from the Gewandhausorchester. Members of the orchestra will also share their expertise and the unique Gewandhaus tradition in Masterclasses with students from the Guildhall.

    The second International Associate residency of the season sees the Los Angeles Philharmonic return to the Barbican from 22 – 24 March 2016 in what will be their second residency at the Centre. Audiences will be given a sense of what is most distinctive about the LA Phil under the inspiring leadership of Gustavo Dudamel: an outstanding virtuoso orchestra, whose progressive programming is grounded in contemporary culture but recognizes and responds to the great historical tradition of classical music.

    The opening concert has a strong American element, with voices old and new from north and south of the equator, in a programme that reflects Gustavo Dudamel’s desire to share the cultural history of all the Americas. The twin poles of the programme are Aaron Copland’s iconic North American Appalachian Spring and Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s turbulent Piano Concerto No 1 (celebrating the 2016 centenary of the composer’s birth) – featuring Venezuelan pianist Sergio Tiempo. The concert also includes two European premieres by US composers: John Williams’ Soundings written for the opening of the orchestra’s home, Walt Disney Concert Hall and a premiere by distinctive new voice Andrew Norman (Tuesday 22 March 2016).

    The second concert in the Barbican residency on Wednesday 23 March 2016 is from the LA Phil’s ‘Green Umbrella’ programming – a contemporary music series, which the orchestra uses to experiment with new ideas and new formats and build relationships with new audiences. Messiaen’s monumental Des canyons aux étoiles, inspired by the composer’s 1972 journey through the American southwest and the striking natural beauty of Utah’s Bryce Canyon, will be performed with stunning new visuals created by Deborah O’Grady. (This production is a co-commission between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley, St. Louis Symphony, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Performing Arts’.)

    The concluding concert of the residency features Mahler’s Symphony No 3 in which the orchestra will be joined by mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, Ladies of the LSO Chorus and Tiffin Boys Choir. This will be the first time that Gustavo Dudamel has conducted Mahler’s mighty Third Symphony in London (Thursday 24 March 2016).

    Both the Gewandhausorchester and Los Angeles Philharmonic International Associate residencies will feature an extensive body of creative learning work to complement the series of concerts. This work forms an integral part of the orchestras’ offerings and manifests what these Barbican International Associate residencies are about: symphonic and chamber music concerts, family events, new commissions and creative learning work that bring opportunities to engage with and participate in great music-making to young people and new audiences.

    Another highlight as part of the Barbican 2015-16 season’s residencies is a rare London visit from some of Bach’s most committed living interpreters: founder, musical director and conductor Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan (orchestra and chorus) arrive in April 2016 in what will be their first major UK residency. Joined by sopranos Hana Blazikova and Joanne Lunn, countertenor Robin Blaze, tenor Colin Balzer and bass-baritone Dominik Wörner, the two evening Barbican Hall concerts as part of the residency will see two of Bach’s greatest choral achievements: a performance of Mass in B minor (Friday 8 April) and Magnificat paired with Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 3 in D minor, Concerto for two violins in D minor and Cantata Bekennen will ich seinen Namen BWV 200 (Saturday 9 April).

    In addition, there will be a day of talks, discussions and performances exploring the life, music and mind of Johann Sebastian Bach, curated and presented by BBC Radio 3 producer Graeme Kay as well as a lunchtime concert at St Giles Cripplegate featuring Bach Chorales and Motets including Jesu, meine Freude and Singet dem Herrn (Saturday 9 April).

    Renée Fleming Artist Spotlight

    The Barbican’s Artist Spotlight in 2015-16 is on one of the most celebrated musical ambassadors of our time: soprano Renée Fleming. Concerts in February and April 2016 will bring her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence to the Barbican. The focus starts on Friday 5 February 2016, when Fleming is joined by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jiří Bělohlávek in the UK premiere of Swedish composer Anders Hillborg’s The Strand Settings. Especially written for and dedicated to Renée Fleming, the work is a 24-minute song cycle about love and desire, based on texts by Canadian poet Mark Strand. Fleming returns on Wednesday 6 April with her one-time teacher and regular musical collaborator, German pianist Hartmut Höll in a recital of beloved lieder, including works by Schumann and Strauss. A strong advocate for learning throughout her career, Fleming’s Artist Spotlight ends on Saturday 9 April 2016 with the singer leading a Masterclass with students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama at Milton Court Concert Hall. This will be preceded by a panel discussion on the role of the singer in the 21st century, and the Artist Spotlight will also feature Fleming on film in some of the greatest roles of her career.

    Opera and Vocal Music

    The Barbican and its partners continue to push the boundaries of cross-artform work, particularly in the area of opera, whether in theatre or concert-hall settings. At the start of the 2015-16 season, the Barbican and Mahagony Opera Group present the world premiere performance of Lost in Thought, the world’s first ‘mindfulness opera’, directed by Frederic Wake-Walker. For opera-lovers, a four-hour work usually means Wagner; but this ground-breaking work is based on the classic structure of an extended meditation, with the music and concept by Rolf Hind. Exploring the points of contact between sound and silence in music and meditation, Lost in Thought will be an immersive musical performance in which the boundaries evaporate between performer and audience, between time and experience. Mezzo-soprano Lore Lixenberg and seven musicians accompany the audience on an inner journey of mindfulness, with periods of meditation, rest, communal eating and a gentle yoga session. Rolf Hind introduced mindfulness meditation practice at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and continues to play a leading part in the School’s pioneering development and research on mindfulness and its relationship to the arts and performing artists. Lost in Thought emerges from that work. Performances will take place at LSO St Luke’s (25 – 27 September 2015).

    January 2016 sees the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle in a LSO/Barbican production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. This semi-staged performance is directed by Peter Sellars and features an outstanding cast including Magdalena Kožená (Mélisande), Christian Gerhaher (Pelléas), Gerald Finley (Goulaud), Bernarda Fink (Genevieve), Franz-Josef Selig (Arkel) and the London Symphony Chorus under chorus director Simon Halsey (Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 January 2016).

    Following his acclaimed performance of Schubert’s greatest song-cycle Winterreise at the Barbican in January 2015, Ian Bostridge makes a welcome return to the centre in the 2015-16 season, taking his personal journey with Schubert’s masterpiece to the next stage. The Dark Mirror is a gripping theatrical version of Winterreise in which composer Hans Zender’s iconoclastic orchestral re-imagining of the original work is staged by acclaimed opera director, designer and video artist Netia Jones, with Britten Sinfonia under conductor Baldur Brönnimann (Barbican Theatre, 12 – 14 May 2016). The Dark Mirror - Zender’s Winterreise is a startling reflection on art and performance, love, death and the passage of time. In this production, Schubert’s song-cycle inhabits a boldly expressionist landscape; the ‘Winter’s Journey’ and its grief-stricken young lover are mirrored in a dynamic confrontation between past and present, maturity and naivety, early Romanticism and the irony of post-Weimar cabaret. Ian Bostridge is one of Winterreise’s greatest living interpreters and this radical new production continues and deepens his life-long relationship with the work and our understanding of it. Netia Jones is renowned for her innovative multimedia productions including 2012’s Where the Wild Things Are (Barbican Hall), 2013’s Curlew River, with Bostridge and Britten Sinfonia at St Giles’ Cripplegate and the forthcoming Alice in Wonderland (Barbican Hall) in March 2015.

    Cecilia & Rolando in Concert sees Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón star in a pre-Christmas performance treat alongside Orchestra La Scintilla featuring arias, duettos and opera scenes by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti (Friday 18 December 2015). Acclaimed soprano Natalie Dessay performs in a solo recital accompanied by pianist Philippe Cassard in a programme featuring works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Duparc, Fauré, Liszt and Bizet (2 October 2015).

    Composer Focuses

    Spring 2016 focuses on contemporary music at the Barbican, with two contrasting composer portraits that are collaborative projects between the Barbican and its Associate partners.

    Andriessen: M is for Man, Music & Mystery in February 2016 celebrates Louis Andriessen’s six decades of music-making at the edge. The series of concerts give a snapshot picture of a composer who acknowledges no frontiers but his own and who has drawn his inspiration from every corner of Western culture. Britten Sinfonia kick-starts the focus with a performance of the composer’s La Passione alongside works by Martland and Reich (Tuesday 9 February 2016). On Friday 12 February 2016 the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins presents the UK premiere of Andriessen’s La Commedia, followed by a BBC SO Total Immersion Day on Saturday 13 February. The day features an ‘in conversation’ with Louis Andriessen about his life and music as well as a range of concerts including: a performance of De Staat given by the Guildhall New Music Ensemble; Britten Sinfonia performing Dances and Tapdance; and UK premiere performances of Andriessen’s Mysterien and Rosa’s Horses with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

    Benjamin at the Barbican portrays one of Britain’s most admired living artists: a sonic alchemist who transforms subtle and exquisite combinations of sounds into vast, passionate emotional landscapes. The portrait offers the chance to hear a major new work for the first time and to revisit Benjamin’s recent opera Written on Skin, with the subtleties of its scoring fully revealed in the concert hall. As part of the focus, the BBC Symphony Orchestra presents the UK Premiere (BBC co-commission) of George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song (Friday 18 March 2016). This is followed by a lunchtime event featuring conversation with George Benjamin and performances of his chamber music with friends including members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and British pianist George King, who will play Benjamin’s Shadowlines (LSO St Luke’s, Saturday 19 March 2016). Highlight of the weekend will be a semi-staged performance of Written on Skin featuring the Mahler Chamber Orchestra

    (for whom the work was written) and a definitive cast, all conducted by Benjamin himself. ‘This opera was designed for the MCO’, says Benjamin; ‘While composing, I remembered the sound of the orchestra and its special qualities.’ Written in collaboration with playwright Martin Crimp, the opera is already considered as one of the first masterpieces of the 21st century. It was premiered at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2012 and has been scheduled by twenty international opera houses since then. The cast includes: Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan as Agnes; English bass-baritone Christopher Purves as the Protector; and English countertenor Tim Mead as the Boy.

    Baroque Music

    The Barbican continues its commitment to presenting outstanding programmes of baroque repertoire in 2015-16, with a strong emphasis on great choral music and opera.

    On Monday 21 September, conductor Laurence Equilbey and her Insula Orchestra make their London debut, opening the Barbican Presents 2015-16 season with a typically striking programme of great choral works from the baroque and classical periods. This new ensemble of outstanding young players uses period instruments, and has been acclaimed for the freshness of their approach. It was founded by Laurence Equilbey and the Conseil General des Hauts-de-Seine in 2012, and has already since reached out beyond its homeland on the western edge of Paris to the rest of France and beyond, performing at major venues and high-profile festivals. Here they are joined by Choeur Accentus and soprano Judit Van Wanroij, alto Wiebke Lehmkuhl, tenor Reimond van Mechelen and bass Andreas Wolff presenting an unusual programme of Zelenka (Miserere in C minor), Mozart (Solemn Vespers K339) and CPE Bach (Magnificat).

    In addition to the first major UK residency of the pre-eminent Bach interpreters Bach Collegium Japan (see International Residencies section) the season also features: A semi-staged performance of Monterverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, co-directed by Alexander Oliver and Timothy Nelson, performed by the Academy of Ancient Music and directed from the harpsichord by Richard Egarr. This is the final work in the AAM’s tryptich of Monteverdi semi-staged operas co-presented with the Barbican, continuing the success of last season’s L'incoronazione di Poppea. (Tuesday 29 September 2015). Ritorno d’Ulisse is rarely performed, and – as with previous operas in the cycle – the production features an outstanding cast, including Ian Bostridge (Ulisse), Christine Rice (Penelope), Elizabeth Watts (Minerva), Andrew Tortise (Telemaco) and Lukas Jakobski (Tempo/Nettuno/Antinoo).

    Stellar soloists can also be found in two Handel rarities this season: Handel’s opera Tamerlano will be performed by the exhilarating Italian ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro under conductor Maxim Emelyanychev. The cast features Xavier Sabata in the title role, Max Emanuel Cencic as Andronico, John Mark Ainsley as Bajazet, Julia Lezhneva as Asteria, Ruxandra Donose as Irene and Pavel Kudinov as Leone. Tamerlano is one of Handel’s greatest and most complex operas, and the recent recording of the work by the same ensemble has been universally acclaimed. (Tuesday 10 November 2015). On 1 March 2016, The English Concert and Harry Bicket make a welcome return to the Barbican with a performance of Handel’s Orlando, featuring Iestyn Davies (Orlando), Erin Morley (Angelica), Carolyn Sampson (Dorinda), Sasha Cook (Medoro) and Kyle Ketelsen (Zoroastro).

    A much anticipated highlight of the spring period will be an Easter Saturday performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion by the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra and the English Baroque soloists, under the direction of Sir John Elliot Gardiner (Saturday 26 March 2016).

    Barbican Hall Solo Recitals

    Barbican Presents 2015-16 sees another fantastic array of high–profile solo recitals, with the roster of artists featuring: soprano Natalie Dessay with pianist Philippe Cassard (2 October 2015); pianist Stephen Hough with a programme including the world premiere of his Sonata No 3, commissioned to mark the 175th anniversary of The Tablet newspaper (27 October 2015); pianist Simon Trpčeski playing a programme of Chopin (24 November); pianist Arcadi Volodos playing Brahms and Schubert (14 December 2015); violinist Maxim Vengerov accompanied by pianist Itamar Golan in a programme including Brahms, Schumann and Shostakovich (23 February 2016); pianist Evgeny Kissin in recital with works including Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata and Brahms’ Three Intermezzos Opus 117 (10 March 2016) and pianist Murray Perahia in recital (20 June 2016).

    Barbican Presents at Milton Court Concert Hall

    The 2015-16 season sees a Barbican Presents and Associates programme at Milton Court Concert Hall – London’s finest and newest small hall – featuring world-class artists in distinctive projects that play to the venue’s intimate acoustic and express aspects of the Barbican-Guildhall creative learning partnership. This programme is based around the twin pillars of the work of the Barbican’s two Associate Ensembles, Britten Sinfonia and Academy of Ancient Music, and their outstanding guest artists including Oliver Knussen, Benjamin Grosvenor, Eddie Gomez, Ian Bostridge, Lucy Crowe and Bernard Labadie.

    Emerging artists feature in the ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Stars Series, presenting fresh young talent tipped for stardom by the directors of Europe’s premier concert halls. In this third ECHO season, six artists/ensembles present an exciting range of repertoire in three evening double-bills that represent tremendous value for money: Cathy Krier (piano) & Benjamin Appl (baritone) with pianist James Baillieu (Thursday 29 October 2015); Remy van Kesteren (harp) & Quatuor Zaïde (Thursday 25 February 2016); and Harriet Krijgh (cello) with pianist Magda Amara & Trio Catch (Wednesday 11 May 2016). As part of the ECHO Rising Stars scheme, each artist features a short new work in their programme, commissioned by ECHO from a range of international composers.

    Also at Milton Court is an immersive Shostakovich Day, featuring three concerts exploring the remarkable musical legacy of the composer, curated and performed by composer, arranger, broadcaster, teacher and writer Gerard McBurney with the music performed by Casals Quartet and pianist Alexander Melnikov. Five middle-period string quartets and the Piano Quintet counterpoint a complete cycle of Shostakovich’s piano Preludes and Fugues, with McBurney’s dramatic readings from the composer’s letters placing the music in context. (Sunday 13 December 2015).

    Eminent French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard plays Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus (Wednesday 16 April 2016) complementing his appearance with the LSO and Sir Simon Rattle earlier that week in the Barbican Hall in the same composer’s Couleurs de la cité celeste. The recital will be complemented by a Masterclass for students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

    To conclude his LSO Artist Portrait, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will perform the complete Brahms Piano Quartets in a single concert, with hand-picked colleagues Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Tabea Zimmermann (viola) and Clemens Hagen (cello) on Saturday 28 May 2016.

    Pianist Steven Osborne appears as featured artist at Milton Court in three contrasting concerts. At the beginning of the Milton Court season he appears alongside Ex Cathedra and conductor Jeffrey Skidmore in a programme that intersperses movements from Rachmaninov’s Vespers with a selection of the composer’s Études-Tableaux and Preludes, carefully chosen to form a single concert with the choral masterpiece (Sunday 27 September 2015). After his EFG London Jazz Festival appearance with Britten Sinfonia (Wednesday 18 November 2015), on Tuesday 31 May 2016 Osborne will introduce and play a programme of exquisitely quiet music by Crumb and Feldman called The Music of Silence, to launch his new Hyperion CD. Masterclasses for Guildhall students will complement these concerts.

    Man Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes joins pianist Angela Hewitt for a special evening of words and music, in support of the charity Freedom from Torture (12 December 2015).

    The Bach Collegium’s Barbican residency will include an ‘Exploring Bach’ day at Milton Court, featuring talks and discussions and music curated by Graeme Kay (Saturday 9 April 2016).

    Within the Renée Fleming Artist Spotlight, the soprano will lead a Masterclass for students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (Saturday 9 April 2016), and as part of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig’s Barbican International Associate residency, music director Riccardo Chailly will be in conversation with Barbican Managing Director Sir Nicholas Kenyon at Milton Court. This is followed by a performance from musicians from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and members of the Gewandhausorchester (Wednesday 21 October 2015).

    Film and Music events

    As part of a series of concerts at the Barbican that explore the innovative ways in which film and music can interact, featured events in 2015-16 include War Work: 8 Songs with film, an audio-visual work, directed and composed by Michael Nyman, and edited by Max Pugh and derived from various visual, poetic and musical archives. The event also features The Michael Nyman Band and contralto Hilary Summers (Thursday 10 December 2015, Barbican Hall). Drawing Life is a dramatised song cycle with film and video, based on the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly (a collection of children’s drawings and poems from Terezín Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, edited by Hana Volavková). Composed by Jocelyn Pook, and created in collaboration with director Emma Bernard and video artist Dragan Aleksic, the performance features some of the poems and drawings by Jewish children imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp.

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