Rhinegold Photo credit: Clive Totman

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

St John’s Smith Square announces 2017/18 season

1:00, 19th June 2017

St John’s Smith Square’s (SJSS) 2017/18 season includes seven festivals and the launch of the ‘Americana’ festival.

Throughout the calendar year of 2018, the venue will celebrate music from America in a series of concerts curated by conductor David Wordsworth. Highlights include a day of events marking Stephen Montague’s 75th birthday, a 13-hour musical celebration of Independence Day, and a festival of American music.

Other highlights of Americana ’18 include Philip Glass from the Carducci Quartet, a performance of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms from the London Chorus, and a programme including the complete chamber version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring from Orchestra Nova.

Stephen Layton is curating the annual SJSS Christmas Festival, which will include concerts from Ex Cathedra, the Tallis Scholars, Solomon’s Knot, the choirs of Trinity College Cambridge, Christ Church Cathedral Choir Oxford, and Polyphony, with Vox Luminis and the London Choral Sinfonia making their festival debuts.

December will also see organ curator David Titterington’s perform the organ works of Bach on the venue’s Klais organ. The Bach in Advent series comprises free daily recitals, usually at 6pm, between 3 and 23 December 2017.

The Brook Street Band will present a weekend festival in February exploring the varied musical styles that informed and shaped the composer Georg Muffat. The Band will explore his legacy in the form of chamber and orchestral music by composers including Bach and Handel, with four concerts (plus a dance-music workshop and illustrated pre-concert talks) providing a musical survey.

The Principal Sound Festival will also take place in February, and will this year focus on the music of Luigi Nono, alongside works by Rebecca Saunders, György Kurtág, Claudia Molitor and Morton Feldman. Artists featured include Exaudi, Explore Ensemble, the Bozzini Quartet, Siwan Rhys, George Barton and Jenni Hogan.

The Holy Week Festival will return for its second edition. Curated by Nigel Short and Tenebrae, the event will feature performances from the Britten Sinfonia, Gabrieli, Skylark, Aurora Orchestra, and Ex Cathedra.

In April, Rolf Hind’s Occupy the Pianos festival will see pianists joined by percussion, voice, film and elements of theatre to explore the themes of nature and technology.

The following month, conductor Sébastien Daucé will be the first guest artistic director of the London Festival of Baroque Music. The 2018 event will have a French theme, and will celebrate the 350th anniversary of Couperin’s birth.

Period instrument performance highlights include a collaboration between La Nuova Musica and the Holst Singers on works by Handel and Mozart; a concert marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by the Steinitz Bach Players and Tenebrae; and a recreation of a 17th century Lutheran Christmas morning by Gabrieli and Paul McCreesh.

The programme’s operatic strand will see Bampton Classical Opera present Salieri’s The School of Jealousy, returning later in the season with a programme illustrating the life of singer Nancy Storace to mark the bicentenary of her death; Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company return with Giulio Cesare; and La Nuova Musica will present Handel’s Orlando, launching an annual cycle of Handel operas at SJSS. The venue will host the final of the Voice of Black Opera Competition, in which six young singers will be accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia, conducted by Kwamé Ryan.

Piano recitals include a performance with Sibelius scholar Joseph Tong in a Nordic themed concert to mark the 60th anniversary of Sibelius’s death, and a series of concerts presented by Blüthner Pianos to showcase their instruments with the pianists Tom Poster, Dmitry Masleev and Martin Sturfalt.

The season will feature premieres by Gregory Rose, Sally Beamish, Alexandra Harwood, Hanna Kulenty, Patrick Brennan, Khyam Allami, Nimrod Borenstein, Owain Park, Arlene Sierra, Kareem Roustom and Jesse Jones. Some of the new works will be commissions by this year’s SJSS Young Artists: the Bukolika Piano Trio, violinist Mathilde Milwidsky, and the piano and percussion duo of Siwan Rhys and George Barton.

Other highlights include a performance of Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil, with the City of London Sinfonia led by Matthew Barley; Haydn and Mozart from the European Union Chamber Orchestra; piano concertos by Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Grieg from the London Mozart Players and Howard Shelley; and a programme ranging from the 16th century to the present day from the Cardinall’s Musick.

The collaboration with Southbank Centre continues for 17/18 as the venue’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room undergo refurbishment. Highlights include the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion and Rachel Podger playing and directing the OAE in a concert featuring two of Mozart’s Violin Concertos. The London Sinfonietta return under founder conductor David Atherton to give a performance of Henze’s Voices, and will also revisit many of the most iconic works from the past 50 years as part of its anniversary celebrations.

Highlights from Southbank Centre’s International Chamber Music Series at St John’s Smith Square include the Emerson Quartet in late Beethoven and Steven Osborne in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio. Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series at St John’s Smith Square includes concerts with Bertrand Chamayou, Víkingur Ólafsson, Boris Giltburg, Alice Sara Ott and George Li.


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