It was a real coup de theatre for the Barbican to set its formal announcement of the 2015 season on the concert hall stage; not only could critics see the venue from the artists’ point of view, but sitting there on the platform somehow made the anticipation of what’s in store for us all even more exciting. The Barbican places its main emphasis on a forward-looking approach to the music of the past combined with highlighting the innovative music of today, and this new season strikes the perfect balance between the two.
There are International residencies from the Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Bach Collegium Japan; the subjects of Composer focuses include John Adams, Thomas Adès, Louis Andriessen and George Benjamin, and there will be a ‘mindfulness opera’ – a world first which promises a four-hour ‘immersive experience.’ You have been warned.
The Resident LSO and Associate Orchestra and Ensembles the BBC SO, the Academy of Ancient Music and the Britten Sinfonia are all vying for the title of ‘band presenting the most exciting season’ as you’ll see from a quick perusal of their various offerings. With such a packed programme, what follows here is just a personal choice of the ‘not to be missed,’ or in other words the concerts we’ll be fighting over from September 2015 onwards.
The Season opener on September 15th brings the LSO under Haitink, with Bruckner’s 7th Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 24, with Murray Perahia as the soloist. That ‘Mindfulness Opera,’ entitled Lost in Thought, begins on the 25th, when we are promised an experience in which there is “no boundary between participants and audience” – sounds a bit scary, but the director is Frederic Wake-Walker, who has an impressive track record, so no need to be too daunted. September ends with the final instalment of the AAM’s cycle of Monteverdi operas; Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria is directed by Alexander Oliver and Timothy Nelson, and boasts a fine cast including Ian Bostridge and Christine Rice.
In a season which seems especially aimed at enthusiasts of baroque opera, the inclusion in November of Handel’s Tamerlano stands out; Il Pomo d’Oro presents a stellar line-up of soloists headed by John Mark Ainsley as Bajazet and Max Emanuel Cencic as Andronico. Opera lovers have further November delight in store in the shape of Leoncavallo’s Zazà presented by the BBC SO, with Ermonela Jaho in the title role. December’s choral delights include the Britten Sinfonia’s Messiah on the 15th and the AAM’s performance of all six parts of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on the 22nd.
January begins in style with a Pelléas et Mélisande from the LSO under Simon Rattle; it’s directed by Peter Sellars and has Christian Gerhaher as Pelléas and Gerald Finley as Goulaud, so you’ll need to book early. Another favourite singer, Renée Fleming, features in a concert on February 5th, with a programme including a work composed for her by Anders Hillborg. Admirers of the music of Louis Andriessen will be in heaven on February 13th, which is a day of ‘Total Immersion’ in that composer’s sound world.
March heralds yet another delight for Handelians in the shape of Orlando from the English Concert under Harry Bicket and featuring Iestyn Davies in the title role. April’s highlights include the Bach Collegium Japan Residency which brings both the Mass in B minor and the Magnificat. May includes two major events for lovers of opera and song, in the shape of Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini from the BBC SO and Opera Rara on the 11th, and Schubert’s Winterreise in Hans Zender’s re-imagining; the soloist is Ian Bostridge.
Further details of all these events can be found at barbican.org.uk/classical1516