BBC NOW, Sinfonia Cymru and WNO Orchestra co-host the Association of British Orchestras Conference in Cardiff this January
Composer-in-Association Huw Watkins explores music that has shaped him as composer and performer and his new symphonic work Spring receives its world premiere
February focuses on new music that has been premiered by BBC NOW and the launch of the first phase of a digital archive
BBC NOW celebrates Welsh music with world premieres by leading Welsh composers Mark Boden, Mark Bowden, Guto Puw and Gareth Glyn
Composition: Wales returns to champion composers worthy of wider exposure and includes Gareth Churchill, Iestyn Harding, Ian Lawson, Lucy McPhee, Claire Victoria Roberts, John Senter, and Luciano Williamson
BBC NOW celebrates its birthday week from 9 – 15 April on air, online and live in concert
In May the Orchestra’s dynamic learning programme takes the spotlight and re-confirms the orchestra’s pledge that every child in Wales has the opportunity to experience a live orchestra during their school days
BBC National Orchestra of Wales at 90
For 90 years, BBC NOW has played an integral role in the cultural and classical landscape of Wales, performing to audiences across the UK, abroad and on air. BBC NOW celebrates its 90th birthday from January to May 2018 showcasing the range and breadth of its work. In January, BBC NOW co-hosts the ABO Conference in Cardiff with WNO Orchestra and Sinfonia Cymru exploring the theme of collaboration. February focuses on new music past and present with the launch of a new digital archive. There are world premieres by leading Welsh composers across January, February and March including Mark Boden, Mark Bowden, Gareth Glyn, Guto Puw and BBC NOW Composer-in-Association Huw Watkins. The Orchestra celebrates its birthday week from 9 – 15 April on air, online and live in concert and May puts the spotlight on its ground-breaking learning programme culminating with its Family Concert on 13 May.
January 2018: ABO conference
The ABO conference takes place from 24-26 January 2018 in Cardiff, and for the first time is hosted by three collaborating organisations: BBC NOW, WNO Orchestra and Sinfonia Cymru. On the first night the WNO Orchestra & BBC NOW join forces for a double bill at BBC Hoddinott Hall in a concert featuring Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite with WNO Orchestra and its Music Director Tomáš Hanus and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade performed by BBC NOW under the baton of Principal Conductor Thomas Sǿndergård. The conference brings together delegates from every part of the sector with a focus on all aspects of collaboration. Key speakers will include Lord Hall, Director-General, BBC, Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive, British Council, Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales,Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, and BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham.
Composer-in-Association: Huw Watkins
BBC NOW’s Principal Guest Conductor, Xian Zhang, conducts the world premiere of Huw Watkins’ new symphonic work Spring. Watkins comments, ‘It is astonishing that an Orchestra that continues to reinvent itself with such enterprising programmes every season is going to be celebrating its 90th birthday. In calling my piece Spring, I wanted somehow to mark that sense of renewal that keeps the Orchestra in such great health.’ Spring is performed at St David’s Hall on 19 January and Brangwyn Hall on 20 January. Commissioned by BBC Radio 3, it will be broadcast live on air on 19 January. January also features two concerts at BBC Hoddinott Hall curated by Huw Watkins exploring the music that shaped him both as a composer and a performer. Conducted by Martyn Brabbins on 12 January, Watkins joins the Orchestra to perform Britten’s Piano Concerto alongside works by Tippett and Bartók. On 31 January, BBC NOW performs a programme of music by living composers selected by Watkins including his own String Trio; John Woolrich’s Oboe concerto performed by Nick Daniel; Alexander Goehr’s Sinfonia and ‘Clocks’ from A Winter’s Tale byRyan Wigglesworth who conducts the concert.
February 2018: new music
BBC NOW has premiered over 100 new works in its 90-year history and in February 2018 will launch the first phase of a digital archive which, once completed, will explore music written for and performed by BBC NOW. As part of the 90th birthday celebrations, the Orchestra looks back at some of the new music it has championed in its lifetime with two concerts at BBC Hoddinott Hall on 21 February and 28 March. Each concert features a new commission and includes music by former Composers-in-Association, Michael Berkeley, Simon Holt and B Tommy Andersson, and former Composers-in-Residence, Guto Puw and Mark Bowden.
On 21 February, Simon Holt turns 60 and to celebrate BBC NOW performs two of his orchestral works: St. Vitus in the Kettle which was premiered at the opening concert at BBC Hoddinott Hall and an icicle of moon, a piece that takes its title from a poem by Garcia Lorca. Mark Bowden’s Three Interludes receive their world premiere and are a set of short orchestral interludes which explore ideas relating to the sea and are partly inspired by Matthew Arnold’s lyric poem Dover Beach. B Tommy Andersson conducts the concert which includes his own Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Homage to Michelangelo performed by Chloë Hanslip.
Composition: Wales offers composers worthy of wider exposure an opportunity to hear their works performed by BBC NOW. Seven composers have been selected for this year’s project: Gareth Churchill, Iestyn Harding, Ian Lawson, Lucy McPhee, Claire Victoria Roberts, John Senter, and Luciano Williamson. Participants will have the opportunity to workshop their pieces with the Orchestra in a series of rehearsals open to the public supported by conductor/composer B Tommy Andersson and mentored by Huw Watkins and Tansy Davies. The project culminates with a concert in BBC Hoddinott Hall on 23 February. Composition: Wales is organised in collaboration with Composers of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd and Welsh Music Guild. Previous participants of the project have included Mark Bowden, Joseph Davies and Sarah Lianne Lewis.
March 2018: celebrating Wales
March celebrates Wales and BBC NOW as one of the nation’s national treasures. The festivities kick off on St David’s Day on 1 March with friends joining the Orchestra and Chorus for a concert with traditional songs, choral works and an audience singalong featuring leading Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones. Grant Llewellyn conducts and is also joined by harpist Catrin Finch who performs the world premiere of Gareth Glyn’s Harp Concerto (a Ty Cerdd commission) portraying scenes from the life of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales.
BBC NOW’s On the Road tour sees violinist Rachel Podger direct the Orchestra from the violin in performances of Haydn & Mozart in Aberystwyth (15 March) andBangor (16 March). The tour also includes a Family Concert in Llandudno (18 March).
The second in a pair of concerts looking back at works that have been premiered by BBC NOW over the years takes place on 28 March. Two new works receive world premieres: Mark Boden’s Clarinet Concerto which has been written for BBC NOW Principal Clarinet, Robert Plane and Guto Puw’s Camouflage: a BBC Radio 3 and Ty Cerdd Commission. The concert also features Michael Berkeley’s Concerto for Orchestra, a three-movement work first performed by BBC NOW at the BBC Proms in 2005, dedicated to the late Richard Hickox (former Principal Conductor for BBC NOW from 2000-2006). The programme is completed by Alun Hoddinott’s Variations for Orchestra Op. 47 marking ten years since the passing of one of Wales’ foremost 20th century composers, whom BBC NOW’s home is named after, and There is no seeker of dreams that were by Sarah Lianne Lewis.
April 2018: birthday celebrations on air and online
On Thursday 12 April BBC NOW turns 90. Throughout its birthday week from 9 – 15 April the Orchestra celebrates with the nation on air, online and in concert with a host of music, memories and festivities. A special birthday concert conducted by Grant Llewellyn featuring a selection of popular classics and works close to BBC NOW will be streamed live; offering an opportunity for audiences to tune in from anywhere and experience BBC NOW live in action.
On air a special week of Afternoon Concerts will mark the 90th birthday of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on BBC Radio 3 (9-15 April). From the band’s beginnings as the Western Studio Orchestra, to its current position as Wales’ National Symphony orchestra, programmes will survey landmark performances across the past nine decades – including the inaugural performance of the BBC’s then newly built broadcasting studios in Cardiff, through the early days of its enduring three decade-long partnership with Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka and the adventurous tour on which he took the band to what was, then, East Germany, to the orchestra’s performance at the investiture of The Prince of Wales, BBC NOW’s patron. Programmes will also explore, the relationship the orchestra has enjoyed with BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and the role it plays showcasing the work of Welsh composers.
May 2018: BBC NOW always learning
May turns the spotlight on BBC NOW’s dynamic learning programming which offers unique opportunities to develop musical skills and explore the world of classical music. BBC NOW is dedicated to developing innovative, exciting and distinctive experiences for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. As part of its 90th birthday celebrations, the Orchestra pledges that every child in Wales has the opportunity to experience a live orchestra during their school days.
The Orchestra’s Family Concert on 13 May at St David’s Hall is conducted by Duncan Ward and offers the chance for the audience to nominate the repertoire performed by BBC NOW and to hear some of their favourite pieces.
Having performed in the inaugural BBC Music Ten Pieces Prom in 2014, BBC NOW will continue this work in May with a series of Ten Pieces coaching sessions. Aimed at inspiring a generation of children to get creative with classical music, BBC Ten Pieces invites children aged 7-14 to develop their own creative responses to ten pieces of music. The initiative has so far reached over four million people across the UK, inspired three hugely successful BBC Proms concerts and won a BAFTA for the Ten Pieces II film. Musicians from BBC NOW will be leading BBC Ten Pieces coaching sessions helping to nurture young talent in schools and special schools around Wales. bbc.co.uk/now