The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2016-17 season is announced today to over 1,000 guests at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
From a complete Beethoven Symphony cycle to a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it is a great showcase for the versatility and artistry of the Orchestra and its Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko, now in his tenth year in the post.
Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of the Orchestra said:
‘The season we are announcing builds on the success we have had in recent years, both in terms of artistic quality and in our reach across our home city. The Orchestra performed and presented 98 concerts in Liverpool last financial year, reaching audiences of over 100,000 in our newly refurbished Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Over 25% of our audience is under the age of 25. Our Leap into Live Music! programme supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, enabled over 4,000 first time attenders from across the city’s communities to come to our concerts and join our loyal and ever-growing audience. We’re proud of our place at the heart of Liverpool’s cultural life, and its newly recognised status as a UNESCO City of Music.’
Petrenko took up the role of Chief Conductor in 2006, when at the age of 29 he became the orchestra’s youngest ever principal conductor. Since then box office revenue has increased by 74%, and more than a quarter of those who saw the orchestra last year were under 25.
This season Petrenko conducts 22 concerts in Liverpool and launches the year with one of the greatest adventures a conductor and orchestra can take together, and their most ambitious project to date: a complete cycle of the Symphonies of Beethoven, in chronological order in four consecutive programmes spanning 10 days (15, 17, 22 and 25 September).
Vasily Petrenko said:
‘As I celebrate ten years at the helm of this fantastic orchestra, I’m thrilled to start our 2016-17 season with all of Beethoven symphonies. It will be an exciting adventure and I relish the chance to work on them so intensively in such a short of space of time! Beethoven’s symphonies still influence musicians and composers worldwide, and to experience them in chronological order like this will show us the course of this genius’ life and work, shedding light on the story behind each symphony and showing how his work changed the course of musical history. I have never taken on this challenge before, and I can’t wait to share it with our wonderful audiences.’
With the Orchestra, Petrenko has built a formidable reputation in the music of his compatriot composers Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich and there are many Russian riches to savour this season. Among the highlights are the first performance in Liverpool of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12: The Year 1917 following the hugely acclaimed Shostakovich Symphony cycle on Naxos with the Orchestra (19 & 22 January), Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, continuing his celebrated partnership with Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski (25 & 26 May, which will be recorded for release on Onyx in May 2017); and two all-Russian programmes with superstar Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, giving his only UK performances outside London this season (2 & 3 February).
In other notable concerts, Petrenko conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, coupled with rarities by Hugo Wolf (30 March) and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto performed by Tamsin Waley-Cohen (2 April); Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique in a programme also featuring virtuoso Baiba Skride playing Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1 (6 & 7 April); and a rich strand of British music including Elgar (24 November), Walton (20 May) and the Liverpool premiere of Emily Howard Torus: Concerto for Orchestra, a co-commission with BBC Proms (19 January).
Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love at 50
Fifty years after its release in 1967, Liverpool-born poet Roger McGough presents a symphonic re-creation of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, arranged by Nigel Osborne for full orchestra. The Orchestra is joined by The Bootleg Beatles for this rare chance to hear the entire album, including Day in the Life, When I’m 64, She’s Leaving Home, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, With a Little Help from My Friends, as well as such hits as Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane from the same year. The Liverpool concerts will be part of a city wide programme of commissions celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this iconic recording. After the concerts in Liverpool (31 May & 3 June) the celebrations tour to London and Birmingham (1 June, Royal Albert Hall and 6 June, Birmingham Symphony Hall.)
‘You say you want a revolution….’
Taking in the ground-breaking symphonies of Beethoven and The Beatles’ experimental, trail-blazing Sgt. Pepper’s album, the Orchestra also explores a major theme of Revolution this season. The spotlight also falls on J.S. Bach, Hector Berlioz and Igor Stravinsky, all of whom, like Beethoven and The Beatles, also revolutionised musical history.
A major focus on J.S. Bach dominates the Liverpool Philharmonic’s extensive chamber music series at St George’s Hall and in its new Music Room and exemplifies how Bach seemed revolutionary in practically everything he wrote. James Ehnes will likely set a high benchmark to launch the series with two concerts featuring the complete Sonatas and partitas for solo violin (27 September & 4 October). He is likely to be matched by other key artists who put Bach at the heart of their chamber programmes including pianist Kirill Gerstein (12 February), Brodsky Quartet (8 March), and the Katona Twins (6 June). In intimate concerts in the new Music Room there is a chance to hear the Orchestra’s Principal Cellist Jonathan Aasgaard perform the complete set of unaccompanied Cello Suites (4 & 11 January), and the Goldberg Variations where Aasgaard is joined by James Clark (violin) and Vicci Wardman (viola) (15 June).
Mahan Esfahani showcases the unprecedented invention of Bach on the mainstage and is joined by the Orchestra in a concert of harpsichord concerti led by the Orchestra’s distinguished leader James Clark (11 May).
Like Bach and Beethoven before him, Hector Berlioz changed musical history by using the orchestra as never before, extending the way the instrumentalists were asked to play and by composing for huge forces. Colossal works such as The Damnation of Faust, conducted by John Nelson and a star-studded cast led by Toby Spence in the title role (11 March), Symphonie fantastique conducted by Petrenko (6 & 7 April), and the world’s craziest viola concerto, Harold in Italy, with soloist Lawrence Power conducted by Andrew Manze (27 & 28 April) exemplify this. His ravishing set of songs for orchestra and mezzo-soprano, Les Nuits d’été, set the scene for Beethoven’s Ninth Choral Symphony under the baton of Petrenko with Anna Stéphany (25 September), while Madeleine Shaw is the Queen in his great mezzo-soprano showpiece The Death of Cleopatra (3 November).
Stravinsky’s influential music mirrors the revolutionary undercurrent of his Russian homeland in the 20th century and the works which have contributed to his enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary are showcased across the season. Petrenko leads the way, jazzing it up with Scherzo à la Russe (20 & 23 October) and Jeu de Cartes (2 & 3 February) before turning to the dazzling colours of Petrushka (1911 original version) with Circus Polka (22 & 23 June). Carlos Miguel Prieto conducts the fantastical Firebird Suite (23 and 24 February), while Christian Lindberg includes the cheeky mock-baroque ballet Pulcinella (23 March). Mahan Esfahani frames Bach’s Concerti with Stravinsky’s Concerto in D and his Danses Concertantes (11 May) and the piano duo Anderson and Roe show off one of Stravinsky’s most notorious ground-breaking works, The Rite of Spring, arranged for piano duo in the Music Room as part of the Close Up series (20 March). A particular Stravinsky highlight promises to be Soldier’s Tale, also part of Close Up in the Music Room, with members of the orchestra and narrator Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It is given alongside the UK premiere of a brand-new sequel by American composer Jim Stephenson called The Devil’s Tale (30 October).
Liverpool Philharmonic Artist in Residence
The exceptional Canadian violinist James Ehnes, widely-regarded as one of the world’s finest virtuosos, has been a favourite with Liverpool audiences since his unexpected debut in 2014, when he triumphed in a live BBC Radio 3 concert with the Orchestra having stepped in at late notice to play Brahms’ Violin Concerto.
Ehnes begins his residency with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Principal Guest Conductor Andrew Manze (30 September), before two concerts featuring the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin at St George’s Hall as part of the Chamber Music season (27 September & 4 October). He returns to give an extremely rare UK concert with The Ehnes Quartet in a programme that includes Mozart, Bartók and Tchaikovsky (23 November) and during his visits to Liverpool will get involved with the Orchestra’s youth ensembles and community projects, including In Harmony Liverpool, working with children from schools across Everton. Ehnes will also record a new album with the Orchestra and Andrew Manze on Onyx for release in 2017.
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir has another busy and challenging season under the tutelage of Chorus Master Ian Tracey.
Highlights include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (25 September); Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ladies only, 30 Sept); Rachmaninov’s Spring Cantata (24 November), Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust (11 March) and a special celebration of the 50th anniversary of Liverpool’s famous Metropolitan Cathedral with James MacMillan and Ian Bostridge (10 June).
The Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir joins them for their annual ‘Spirit of Christmas’ celebration, presented by Classic FM’s John Suchet (17, 18, 20, 22 and 23 Dec), as well as a concert of music by John Rutter, conducted by the composer himself (12 April).
Carl Davis celebrates his 80th Birthday
On the very day of his 80th Birthday (28 October 2016), Carl Davis returns to Liverpool to conduct some of his own much-loved music for film and TV, including the themes from Pride and Prejudice and The World at War, as well as personal favourites such as Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Walton’s Battle of Britain.
Must See Artists and Rising Stars
Liverpool Philharmonic welcomes back the Orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus Sir Andrew Davis who leads a concert including Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Garrick Ohlsson, alongside Nicolai’s Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor and Elgar’s Falstaff (4 May). Principal Guest conductor Andrew Manze leads three programmes which range from Sibelius and the symphonies of Vaughan Williams (20 April) to Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with James Ehnes (30 September) and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, alongside Beethoven, Berlioz and Rossini (27 & 28 April).
Other distinguished conductors appearing in the season include Nicholas Collon, Carl Davis, James MacMillan, Aleksandar Markovic, Frank Markowitsch, Robert Trevino, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Gilbert Varga. There are also eagerly-anticipated debuts from young Polish conductor Patrycja Pieczara and up-and-coming Slovakian Juraj Valčuha.
International soloists appearing with the Orchestra this season include pianists Paul Lewis, Kirill Gerstein, Garrick Ohlsson, Louis Schwizgebel, Alexandre Tharaud, Anderson and Roe and debuts for Evgeni Bozhanov and Teo Gheorghiu; violinists Nicola Benedetti, Ray Chen, Ning Feng, Baiba Skride, Tamsin Waley-Cohen; violist Lawrence Power; oboist Francois Leleux; harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and guitarist Craig Ogden.
For all the family…
The Orchestra’s Family Concerts aim to provide children and adults with all of the sights and sounds of a full symphony orchestra at weekends and evenings and are a welcome complement to the 13 planned Schools’ Concerts for around 20,000 children from more than 200 schools across Liverpool and the North West. Family Concerts last around an hour, with plenty of familiar music designed to entertain and enthrall younger audiences. Among the seven Family Concerts this season is an ‘Intergalactic Journey’ featuring music from Superman, Star Wars; E.T. and Doctor Who; ‘Magical Musical Kingdoms’ with music inspired by Tales of Narnia, Robin Hood, Beauty and the Beast and other such fairy tales, as well as a special concert for the under-5s in the new Music Room.