The Philharmonia Orchestra and Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen announce their new season in London with a programme that cements the Philharmonia’s position as a symphony orchestra for the 21st century. Through its combination of visiting artists, breadth of repertoire, Virtual Reality experiences and new concert presentation formats, the Orchestra aims to create thrilling musical experiences for the widest possible audience.

Key highlights:
Esa-Pekka Salonen launches the first part of a new flagship Philharmonia series, Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis (June 2019), with a cabaret programme featuring Broadway star Audra McDonald and a live screening of the 1927 expressionist masterpiece of German cinema, Metropolis;
The Philharmonia’s Principal Guest Conductors each conduct three programmes of repertoire that shows their influences and inspirations: Jakub Hrůša conducts Dvořák’s complete Slavonic Dances, Brahms’s Third Symphony and a rare performance of Czech composer Miloslav Kabeláč's The Mystery of Time; Santtu-Matias Rouvali conducts Ravel, Sibelius, John Adams, Stravinsky and an all-Strauss programme;
The Orchestra collaborates with some of the most distinctive, original artists in classical music, including a conductor of extraordinary command and charisma, Xian Zhang; pianist Alice Sara Ott; violinist Pekka Kuusisto; conductor Herbert Blomstedt, now in his nineties; and Baroque expert Philippe Herreweghe;
The Philharmonia makes a renewed commitment to contemporary music with two Royal Festival Hall premieres (Peter Eötvös’s Multiversum and Geoffrey Gordon’s bass clarinet concerto performed by Philharmonia Principal Laurent Ben Slimane), a performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto and a refreshed Music of Today series, curated by Unsuk Chin;
A new digital partnership between the Philharmonia and Southbank Centre opens the season (27 – 30 Sep): two new immersive surround-sound, audio-led Virtual Reality experiences presented in a specially-created VR sound studio on the Clore Ballroom;
For the first time, the Philharmonia brings its schools’ concert series and workshop programme, Orchestra Unwrapped, to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall (29 Nov);Following its most successful autumn at the box office in four seasons, the Philharmonia deepens its commitment to developing new audiences and widening access to orchestral music: secret seats scheme Ringside Seats is made a permanent offer; ticket prices for audiences 18 years and under are reduced; innovation with lighting and concert presentation formats continues; and new-look concert programmes will be free for all audiences.

Esa-Pekka Salonen said: “We at the Philharmonia have a lively response for anyone who thinks that an orchestra is no longer a vital cultural force. I am looking forward to our new surround-sound Virtual Reality presentations, our Music of Today series, and our programme of music from Weimar Berlin, which will carry into the next season.”

Philharmonia Orchestra Managing Director Helen Sprott said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for orchestral music, with so many opportunities to grow and diversify the role orchestras play – on-stage and off – and the audiences for whom they perform. It’s a time to be bold, to experiment and to try new things. With both our growing audience and the artistic leadership of Esa-Pekka Salonen, unstoppably driving new ideas and innovation, the Philharmonia is perfectly placed to seize the moment. We do that in our 2018/19 Season, from celebrating the imagination and inventiveness of music and art in Weimar Germany to presenting nine premieres in venues across the Southbank Centre site.”

Further details:
Esa-Pekka Salonen opens the season (27 and 30 Sep) with two concerts that each combine a Bruckner Symphony (Six and Seven respectively) with a Wagner prelude and Schoenberg masterpiece. Camilla Nylund is the soprano soloist in Erwartung (27 Sep) and Salonen conducts Verklärte Nacht (30 Sep).
In February Salonen conducts two adventurous programmes. On 24 Feb, Truls Mørk is the soloist in Salonen’s own Cello Concerto, which is paired with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. On 28 Feb, Salonen juxtaposes Berio’s Folk Songs and Esa (In cauda V) by Berio’s contemporary and compatriot Franco Donatoni with music by Debussy, Ravel and Respighi. Following their acclaimed performances together at the 2017 BBC Proms, French soprano Marianne Crebassa joins Salonen and the Orchestra as soloist in Ravel’s Shéhérazade.
Salonen closes 2018/19 with the opening of Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis, which will continue into the 2019/20 season.
Guest artists include some of the most acclaimed conductors and soloists in classical music, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt (conducting two concerts), Philippe Herreweghe, Radu Lupu, Viktoria Mullova and Yuri Temirkanov; and artists who are shaping the future of classical music: conductors Edward Gardner, Lahav Shani, John Wilson and Xian Zhang; pianist Alice Sara Ott; and violinists Nicola Benedetti and Pekka Kuusisto.
Under the artistic directorship of the Germany-based Korean composer Unsuk Chin, the Philharmonia’s long-running series Music of Today achieves greater prominence, with concerts presented in mixed formats across the Southbank Centre site. At the heart of the refreshed series is an artist portrait concert in Queen Elizabeth Hall on 5 Apr: virtuoso Wu Wei has made the Sheng – an ancient Chinese wind instrument – into an innovative force in contemporary music that crosses traditional genre boundaries. He performs a newly commissioned work by Ondřej Adámek, alongside two pieces previously composed for him with the Philharmonia and conductor Jonathan Stockhammer.
Three intimate 6pm Purcell Room concerts open the series (27 Sep, 15 Nov, 20 Jan); on 7 Feb, Music of Today presents a sonic installation in partnership with De Montfort University on the Clore Ballroom; and the series closes with two free concerts on the Festival Hall stage: the Philharmonia’s annualComposers’ Academy culmination concert (2 Jun) and a film programme as part of Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet Metropolis (13 Jun).
As well as six premieres in Music of Today, the Philharmonia shines a light on the inventive, engaging music being composed for orchestra in the 21st century in its Royal Festival Hall programme. Alongside a performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto (24 Feb), the Philharmonia presents two new works: Peter Eötvös’s Multiversum (7 Feb) explores the nature of the universe; and Geoffrey Gordon’s new concerto (20 Jan) showcases the Philharmonia’s Principal Bass Clarinet, Laurent Ben Slimane.
A new digital partnership between the Philharmonia and Southbank Centre opens the 2018/19 season, marking the third year in a row that audiences can experience cutting-edge digital installations for free in the Royal Festival Hall foyers (27 – 30 Sep).
In its newest, most high-tech experience to date, the Philharmonia – in partnership with 3D audio production company Mixed Immersion – invites audiences into a VR surround-sound studio on the Clore Ballroom, where audiences can experience sitting in front of Esa-Pekka Salonen as he conducts the Orchestra. Audiences can enjoy two different experiences in this new installation: the culmination of Mahler’s Third Symphony (recorded live in concert on 1 October 2017, thanks to support from The Space and Google Arts & Culture) and the Philharmonia’s Raindance Award-winning VR experience, Beethoven’s Fifth.
With this new project, the Philharmonia has pushed to the next level of audio quality in VR with an experience that allows up to six viewers to sit inside the studio wearing VR headsets while listening to the audio through an 18-speaker ambisonic array, recreating the sound on-stage in ground-shaking detail.
For the first time, the Philharmonia brings its schools’ concert series and workshop programme, Orchestra Unwrapped, to Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on 29 November. Orchestra Unwrapped has engaged 31,130 children and their teachers in the Orchestra’s UK residency locations since its launch in Leicester in 2011, with over 380 teachers receiving CPD training. Orchestra Unwrapped welcomes children from all educational circumstances and backgrounds, including SEND schools, faith schools, home-educated children and young people from pupil referral units. An associated in-school creative workshop programme to help understand the repertoire prepares children for their concert visit.
Following its most successful autumn at the box office in four seasons, the Philharmonia deepens its commitment to developing new audiences and widening access to orchestral music in 2018/19:
Secret seats scheme Ringside Seats, which offers audience quick-buy discounts to sit right up-close to the Orchestra, is made a permanent offer
Ticket prices for audiences 18 years and under are reduced to a flat £8/£6 rate;
With Esa-Pekka Salonen the Philharmonia will continue to innovate with lighting and concert presentation formats;
New-look concert programmes will be free for all audiences for the Orchestra’s London Season.


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