The Barbican will mark the centenary of the end of the World War I by hosting performances of several commemorative new works by British composers.
On 4 November, the London Symphony Orchestra gives the premiere of the orchestral version of James Macmillan’s All the Hills and Vales Along, setting the poetry of Charles Sorley, who was killed in action; on 9 November the Britten Sinfonia premieres an orchestral version of Nico Muhly’s The Last Letter; a day later the BBC SO’s programme of words and music includes a performance of Marc-Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie; and on Armistice Day the BBC Singers under new chief conductor Sofi Jeannin performs a Barbican/RIAS Kammerchor co-commission by Roderick Williams.
The Barbican’s 2018-19 season also includes the BBC SO marking the centenary of female suffrage with a performance of Dame Ethel Smyth’s rarely performed, 65-minute Mass in D, while the orchestra’s season starts with an example of the increasingly popular words-and-music format – Professor Brian Cox talks about the latest in planetary science before Ben Gernon conducts Holst’s The Planets on the centenary of its premiere.
Other highlights of the season include a return Peter Sellars/LSO partnership for staged performances of Lassus’ Lagrime di San Pietro and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen; the Academy of Ancient Music concluding its Purcell cycle with a semi-staged Dido and Aeneas; Marin Alsop conducting the LSO in two performances of Bernstein’s Candide; and Roderick Williams, the first Guildhall School alumnus to return as artist-in-residence.
The season opens on 6 September with performances of Edna Walsh and Donnacha Dennehy’s eerie opera The Second Violinist, and other premieres include Birtwistle’s Fanfare and an LSO co-commission; Alain Altinoglu’s arrangement of a suite from Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande; a score by Olga Neuwirth to accompany a screening of restored 1924 silent film Die Stadt ohne Juden (The City Without Jews); harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani performing new works by Anahita Abbasi and Sunlief Rasmussen’s Quadrofone; and the BBC SO performing world premieres by Richard Causton, Ceryl Frances-Hoad, Gavin Higgins and Pawel Szymański.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra will have its first season as associate ensemble at Milton Court, including Mountain, a collaboration with filmmaker Jennifer Peedom. The Britten Sinfonia continues its Brahms symphony cycle with Sir Mark Elder and concludes its Beethoven partnership with Thomas Adès.
Visiting orchestras include the Vienna Philharmonic performing Mahler, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia orchestra, Il Pomo d’Oro, Collegium Vocale Ghent, les Arts Florissants and Le Concert Spirituel.
Diana Damrau sings works by Richard Strauss in three concerts and recitalists include Barbican debutants cellist Sheku Kanneh Mason with his sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason; ‘super trio’ Leonid Kavakos, Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax; Ian Bostridge in recital with Sir Antonio Pappano; French art songs from Measha Brueggergosman, and soprano Magdalena Kožená with Yefim Bronfman.
Ten days after the start of academic term, students from the Guildhall School will tackle the Verdi Requiem, conducted by James Blair.