Rhinegold Photo credit: Hugo Glendinning

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

LSO welcomes Sir Simon with ten-day celebration

12:12, 17th January 2017

The London Symphony Orchestra has announced its programme for 2017/18 – Sir Simon Rattle’s first season as music director.

The ensemble will mark the occasion with ‘This is Rattle’ (14-24 September), a ten-day celebration including a celebration of Stravinsky in partnership with the Philharmonie de Paris; the creation of an opera in a day with children and young people; and the chance to look behind the scenes during rehearsals for Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust.

Rattle will conduct ten programmes over the course of his first season with the orchestra, beginning with an all-British programme (including a Helen Grime premiere) and also including Stravinsky ballets, late Mahler, and the Genesis Suite, written by seven composers who emigrated to Hollywood in the 1940s and performed with visuals by Gerard McBurney.

 Sir Simon Rattle and LSO managing director Kathryn McDowell Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for the LSO
Sir Simon Rattle and LSO managing director Kathryn McDowell
Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for the LSO

The 2017/18 season will also include focuses on Leonard Bernstein (former president of the LSO) and Debussy, marking the composers’ centenaries in 2018; a Shostakovich symphony cycle led by principal guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda; and a New Music Britain series featuring contemporary British composers.

Future projects include a performance of Stockhausen’s Gruppen at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2018, and the European premiere of David Lang’s The Public Domain, involving 1,000 singers of a range of abilities.

The LSO is introducing a number of new initiatives: one of these is Half Six Fix, a series of hour-long early evening concerts designed to reach new audiences. The 17/18 season will see Gianandrea Noseda conduct Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony, Rattle present Bernstein’s Wonderful Town, and François-Xavier Roth offer Stravinsky’s Chant du rossignol and Debussy’s La mer.

The ensemble also announced a new three-year programme which will increase musical opportunities for young people in East London with special educational needs and disabilities, and is introducing new ticketing schemes. All tickets for under-18s at LSO Barbican concerts will be priced at £5, and 1,000 Wildcard tickets will be available throughout the year; costing £10, the seat won’t be revealed until the day of the performance, and could be anything from a £15 at the back of the hall or a top price seat in the middle of the stalls.

Managing director Kathryn McDowell heralded the upcoming season as ‘a new era for the LSO’, adding that ‘all the qualities the LSO holds dear […] will flourish and grow’ under Rattle’s leadership.

Sir Simon said that the programme offers ‘a glimmer of things to come’, adding: ‘Together we intend to explore the great masterpieces, build our community, and inspire a new generation to join us in the belief that music is for everybody.’

Speaking at the season launch, the conductor addressed plans for a new Centre for Music, stating that the hall was at present ‘an if, not a when’ but emphasising that it would be ‘terribly important’ for the country.

Rattle acknowledged the limitations of the Barbican, saying: ‘It is very clear we can do a lot of wonderful work at the Barbican, but it is also clear there is about 20% of the repertoire that we can’t.’ He commented that ‘there are pieces which we play at the Barbican which we probably shouldn’t for health and safety reasons’, quipping: ‘It may be fun to listen to the Alpine Symphony in the Barbican but I don’t think the RSPCA would allow it!’

Admitting that the estimated £278m cost was ‘too high’, Sir Simon admitted that he was glad that the concert hall would be funded privately, commenting: ‘The minute you feel that this could have been spent by the government on something else, this is a very difficult area. Anyone with half a brain is going to agree with that — even a conductor.’


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