With its 2006-7 season continuing to break records ñ the highest-ever levels of attendance, a 300% rise in the number of first-time visitors (including many younger music-lovers) and a 25% growth in income - Wigmore Hall is in buoyant mood as it announces its concert season for 2007-2008.

The new season sees an expansion of the Master Series ñ the concerts presented by the hall itself, rather than by external promoters; this will now comprise 230 concerts, 30 more than in 2006-2007. It is the second annual programme to be conceived by the hallís director, John Gilhooly, who says: ìWigmore Hall, now 106 years old, is an institution of international renown, but we know that its reputation and audiences can never be taken for granted. In the crowded and competitive environment of Londonís music scene, a small organisation like Wigmore Hall has to work constantly to maintain and develop its position. We could not do this without the unfailing support of the Friends of Wigmore Hall and our other donors, and their commitment is embodied in the £1.8 million already pledged towards the £3.1 million lease that the Wigmore Hall Trust acquired in 2006. With the lease safely in our possession we can plot our evolution, take an enterprising approach to programming and continue to provide music-making at the highest level in the years ahead.î

Landmarks in the 2007-2008 season include:

  • Concerts on a Russian theme, including a festival overseen by Steven Isserlis
  • Thomas Quasthoff in residence from 1-7 October
  • Schubertís three song cycles sung by Mark Padmore over a 5 day period
  • Anniversary celebrations of Grieg and Sibelius
  • Tributes to Henri Dutilleux and Paul Sacher
  • A substantially expanded Young Artists Series including the Navarra, Doric and Ebene quartets
  • A recital by Bryn Terfel to raise funds for the Wigmore Hall lease
  • The complete songs of Poulenc - overseen by Malcolm Martineau - and including concerts by, amongst others, Sandrine Piau in her recital debut
  • Andr·s Schiff collaborating with singers for ìSongs ñ With and Without Wordsî
  • The Emerson Quartet combining Beethovenís ëRazumovskyí Quartets with contemporary works
  • The Zehetmair Quartet in Schumann
  • Susan Graham in a recital of French song
  • Sarah Connolly joins the Gabrieli Consort for Dido and Aeneas, conducted by Paul McCreesh
  • Returns after lengthy absences of several major artists, including Maxim Vengerov, Natalia Gutman, Ewa Podleś and Thomas Hampson and the Wigmore debut of Edita Gruberov·
  • The Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition
  • Jazz concerts in conjunction with Serious

    RUSSIA
    Russian music and Russian musicians sustain a high profile throughout the season. April brings a series of concerts conceived by Steven Isserlis featuring composers from Glinka to Shostakovich and including rare pieces by composers such as Rubinstein, Taneyev, Balakirev, Medtner and Arensky. Isserlis is joined by, among others, Joshua Bell, the Jerusalem Quartet, Olli Mustonen and the young Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein, who also gives a solo recital in February.

    Other visitors to Wigmore Hall over the year include Maxim Vengerov (returning after 15 years in Brahms chamber works), Natalia Gutman, Nikolai Demidenko and the Hermitage String Trio, Yevgeny Sudbin, Konstantin Lifschitz, Rustem Hayroudinoff, Boris Giltburg, Valeriy Sokolov, Boris Garlitsky, Alexei Ogrintchouk, Boris Berezovsky Trio and the Dominant Quartet.

    SIBELIUS and GRIEG
    The national composers of Finland and Norway both have anniversaries in 2007: it is 50 years since Sibelius died and 100 since the death of Grieg. Sibelius is inevitably equated with symphonies, but he also produced superb chamber music and songs. In September a primarily Finnish line-up of artists, including the Inkinen Piano Trio and the countryís leading baritone Jorma Hynninen, celebrate him with three concerts.

    The end of November brings the Grieg Anniversary Concert. Two Norwegians ñ soprano Solveig Kringelborn and pianist Gunilla S¸ssmann, join French violinist Philippe Graffin and British cellist Raphael Wallfisch.

    MODERN COMPOSERS

    In recent seasons composers such as Ligeti and Kurt·g have been honoured by Wigmore Hall. Future seasons will celebrate, amongst others Elliott Carter and Wolfgang Rihm, but this year the focus is on 91-year-old Henri Dutilleux. The Nash Ensemble will set a number of his works in the context of Stravinsky, Ravel and Messiaen; Paul Sacher, the Swiss patron of the arts who died in 1999, is given a tribute concert, including works by Stravinsky and BartÛk, by the Scottish Ensemble.

    Celebrating his 75th birthday in 2007 is Alexander Goehr, born in Berlin but resident in Britain from his earliest childhood. His birthday concert in November unites baritone Roderick Williams, three pianists (Andrew West, Daniel Becker and Huw Watkins) and the Elias Quartet. In March 2008 comes the premiere of Goehrís clarinet quintet in another Nash Ensemble programme, entirely devoted to living composers and also including Jonathan Cole, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Colin Matthews and James MacMillan. Three contemporary composers share programmes with Beethoven when the Emerson Quartet visits in November (see below).

    SONG
    The season opens with Christine Brewer (recently named by BBC Music Magazine as one of the 20 Greatest Sopranos) in an imposing programme of Wolf, Wagner and Liszt, but it is Poulenc, with his inimitable combination of lightness and sincerity, whose entire song output will feature in the season, placed in the context of mixed recitals by a line-up of British and French singers of different generations: Lorna Anderson, Dame Felicity Lott, Lisa Milne, Sandrine Piau, Thomas Allen, StÈphane Degout, Simon Keenlyside, Jonathan Lemalu, Christopher Maltman and Robert Murray. Poulencís La dame de Monte Carlo also closes a delicious pot pourri of French songs from Susan Graham.

    Juliane Banse, Angelika Kirchschlager, the Czech-born mezzo Hannah Esther Minutillo and Philip Langridge are the singers whom Andr·s Schiff will accompany as part of his series ìSongs ñ With and Without Wordsî, inspired by Mendelssohn, while on 28 November 2007 Kirchschlager joins Andreas Scholl, Christian Gerhaher and Graham Johnson for a birthday concert for Wigmore Hallís previous Director, William Lyne.

    Another close colleague of Schiff is Thomas Quasthoff, who takes up residence in early October for three concerts, the last of them, in the company of the young pianist Gabe Kahane, a jazz evening. The Los Angeles Times has observed: ìQuasthoff was not a classical singer singing jazz, but a jazz singer singing jazz.î Another baritone Thomas of note, Thomas Hampson returns to Wigmore Hall in December after a five-year absence, while the extraordinary Polish contralto Ewa Podleś presents a programme of Russian song. Mark Padmore performs all three Schubert cycles in May (with Till Fellner, Julius Drake and Roger Vignoles), while Gerald Finley and Joan Rodgers take up the seasonís Russian theme in their recitals.

    Prominent sopranos appearing at the hall include coloratura legend Edita Gruberov·, Anne Schwanewilms in a programme dominated by Strauss, her signature composer, and Miah Persson, who has impressed in Mozart at both Covent Garden and Glyndebourne. Two other rising stars, Kate Royal and Christine Rice stake an enticing claim on the soprano/mezzo duet repertoire.

    The seasonís typically impressive list of singers also includes Alice Coote, Mireille Delunsch, Bernarda Fink, Soile Isokoski, Sally Matthews, Anne Sofie von Otter (who gives a Christmas concert), Ann Murray DBE, Christine Sch‰fer, Christianne Stotijn, John Mark Ainsley, Matthias Goerne, Wolfgang Holzmair, Jorma Hynninen, Stephan Loges, Bryn Terfel (in a fundraising concert for Wigmore Hallís lease fund) and BBC New Generation Artists Andrew Kennedy and Ronan Collett.

    Future Wigmore recitalists have their big opportunity at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, scheduled for early September, with a distinguished panel of judges that includes Christine Brewer, Ann Murray DBE, Robert Holl and Graham Johnson.

    PIANISTS
    In addition to his song-inspired appearances (see above), Andr·s Schiff gives a Schubert programme and, with Steven Isserlis, a gala for International Musicians' Seminar and Prussia Cove Gala. Elisabeth Leonskaja, also a supreme Schubert pianist, plays the sonatas D958, 959 and 960. The roster of pianists speaks for itself: Emanuel Ax, Imogen Cooper, Till Fellner, Nelson Goerner, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Paul Lewis, Ivan Moravec, CÈdric Tiberghien, Simon Trpčeski, Lars Vogt, while Melvyn Tan and Ronald Brautigam team up for a two-piano recital.

    ENSEMBLES
    Beethovenís Razumovsky Quartets are counterpointed with contemporary works ñ Sheng, Saariaho and Rihm ñ in three concerts by the Emerson Quartet, while the Zehetmair Quartet, which made a prizewinning case for Schumannís quartets with its ECM recordings, presents the cycle chronologically over three concerts in October, January and March. The Berlin-based Arcanto Quartet ñ like the Zehetmair an ensemble of soloists (its cellist, Jean-Guihen Queyras appears at a November Coffee Concert) ñ presents two programmes in December, while the Hagen Quartet makes a welcome return, also with two concerts. Other groups on the quartet programme include former Wigmore residents the Belcea, the Artemis (partnering with cellist Truls Mork), the Tak·cs, the Tokyo, the Maggini (continuing Peter Maxwell Daviesí Naxos Quartets), the äkampa (with Nobuko Imai), the Royal, the Aviv and Quatuor MosaÔques.

    The Beaux Arts Trio gives its farewell recital after 52 years, as its pianist founder Menahem Pressler retires ñ its violinist, Daniel Hope also gives a lunchtime recital ñ while the Florestan Trio, Vienna Piano Trio and FaurÈ Quartett (a piano quartet) also appear. The Jerusalem Quartet teams up with Stefan Vladar for Brahmsí Piano Quintet in F minor.

    Larger ensembles on the agenda include the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble 360 (the flagship of Sheffieldís Music in the Round, the UKís largest chamber music programmer outside London), the Razumovsky Ensemble and the Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Historically informed performance is provided by the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Concert, the Gabrieli Consort, which is joined by mezzo Sarah Connolly for Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, the Kingís Consort (presenting a showcase for young artists) and Florilegium with Emma Kirkby.

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