Aurora Orchestra brings its distinctive memorised performance approach to a twentieth-century symphony for the first time.

During the BBC Proms season of 2014, Aurora became the first orchestra in history to perform a symphony entirely from memory, without the aid of printed scores. Since that groundbreaking first performance of Mozart’s 40th symphony, Aurora’s memorised performances have become something of a Proms institution, with performances by heart of Beethoven’s third and sixth symphonies and Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’.

This year, as part of a late-night Shostakovich programme which also features the Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin as soloist for the second piano concerto, Aurora applies this thrillingly communicative approach to the composer’s ninth symphony. Aurora’s boldest musical challenge to date, this will be the first time any orchestra has performed a twentieth-century work by heart. Harnessing the extraordinary potential of memorised performance to bring audiences under the skin of a great work and physically explore its musical architecture, Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon again teams up with BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service to offer audiences a uniquely vivid musical introduction, before conducting Aurora in a performance of the symphony entirely from memory.

“Memorising deepens and enriches our relationship with the music in every way, "and takes communication to a new level” says Collon. “Whilst it feels naked on stage without a stand and music to hide behind, it intensifies the levels of trust between players. My hope and belief is that it also communicates in a new way with the audience: not so much that it should feel surprising or dangerous to watch, but more that we are all – players and audience alike – unshackled from the physical and metaphorical confines of the printed notes.”

“I cannot exaggerate the joy I feel at sharing these experiences with my colleagues” says Jamie Campbell, Principal Second Violin. “To be able to look up, make eye contact, and know that every person on that stage knows every single note of the piece inside out makes for an incredibly intense experience of the music.”

This project forms part of an ambitious year of memorised performance in which the orchestra also present symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven by heart in their flagship London series: Mozart’s Piano at Kings Place [Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, 1 July] and The Orchestral Theatre at Southbank Centre [Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, 16 September, Queen Elizabeth Hall)]. In addition to being Resident Orchestra at Kings Place and Associate Orchestra at Southbank Centre, Aurora can be seen on tour in venues throughout the UK, and will be appearing in several major European halls including the Kölner Philharmonie, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and the recently-opened French concert hall La Seine Musicale.


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