Monday, 13 July 2015

St John's Smith Square Bumper Season 2015 2016

Bookings open 12th July for the St John's Smith Square 20156 season. Book early, since the venue is small and intimate, and some of the concerts will sell out fast.  St John's, Smith Square, built 300 years ago, is "a masterpiece of English Baroque architecture........ designed and built by Thomas Archer and has survived fire, lightning, bomb plots and the Blitz. The beauty of the building is matched by an exceptional acoustic and from its restoration as both church and concert hall"  It's unique, and an ideal setting for baroque music. but includes much more.

This year's offerings are specially ambitious, because the Queen Elizabeth Hall is being closed for refurbishment, so performers normally resident there will be crossing the river to SJSS. Exciting news indeed,!  SJSS will be presenting over 250 concerts, expanding into new repertoire and presenting several world premieres, including a new piece by Sir Harrison Birtwistle. It will become a temporary home for orchestras like the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment , the London Sinfonietta, the Philharmonia Orchestra and   SJSS will also host the Southbank's International Piano Series and the International Chamber Music Series, and also present concerts by big name performers like Nikolai Demidenko, Steven Osborne, Tafelmusik,  Imogen Cooper, The Jerusalem Quartet, Viktoria Mullova, Nicola Benedetti,  Alexei Grynyuk, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, the Tallis Scholars, Thomas Trotter, the Gabrieli Consort and many others.

Baroque highlights include concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, including  a Handel programme with Ian Bostridge, "Bach's Double, Bach's Single" led by Rachel Podger, and "Bach Secular and Sacred". They're also doing an interesting Handel Messiah with Polyphony though I'll be priority booking for their Easter 2016 Bach St John Passion with excellent soloists, including Neal Davies and Stuart Jackson, who is very, very good indeed and deserves much more recognition.  In  May, the OAE offer "Winds of Change" (Mozart symphonies 1 and 33).  Also high priority, Christmas music from La Chapelle du Roi and a very unusual Christmas Passion with Roderick Williams and Siglo di Oro, featuring English Christmas music.  Indeed, SJSS's Christmas mini Festival is excellent, with Ex Cathedra and the choirs of Merton College and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Clare College Cambridge and King's College, London.  Also very worth going to, The European Union Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, first in October, then again in December. . .

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in June in a concert focusing on Stravinsky's late religious works, including the Requiem, in June. Martyn Brabbins conducts the London Sinfonietta with Harrison Birtwistle's new Duets in a Frame .  . SJSS regulars, like the Orchestra of St John's Smith Square, will be back and the London Mozart Players are doing a series of Mozart concertos. Plenty of variety.In September, an intriguing 10 part series, "Occupy the Pianos", built around pianist and composer Rolf Hind. Hind is an interesting personality, so this series should thrill the new music crowd, and perhaps draw in those who aren't as yet, into new music. I'll write more about it later.

St John's Smith Square is also a superb venue for chamber and baroque opera. Salieri's La grotta di Trifonio, from Bampton Opera with Chroma on 15th September. Salieri's reputation was wrecked by the movie Amadeus, but his music is enjoying a revival these days.  Bampton is also doing a double bill of rarities based on Shakespeare, in June - Georg Benda's 1776 Romeo und Julie together with Thomas Linley's Lyric Ode on the Fairies, Aerial Beings and Witches of Shakespeare (also 1776). Mark the date, 12th June.

Also very worthwhile, on November 2nd, Handel Acis and Galatea, with Ed Lyon and Catherine Manley and La Nuova Musica, a very lively, dedicated baroque ensemble.. They're also doing Vivaldi and Handel in February. And maybe even best of all, Rameau Castor et Pollux on 20th November with the Early Opera Company. Ashley Riches and Samuel Boden sing the twins who turn into stars. The Early Opera Company is doing a concert programme in February featuring Sophie Bevan.

For more details, please look HERE on the St John's Smith Square website.

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