With its plush new makeover the Wigmore Hall is more than ready to enter its 105th year, but what delights does it have in store for us?
Well, one thing that we can expect is an interesting, varied programme.
Its name is synonymous with the idea of exceptionally high quality concerts in the comfort of luxurious and intimate surroundings, yet the Wigmore still manages to keep its ticket prices very reasonable.
Another point of note is the broad variety of programmes to suit all tastes. For example, there are Family Concerts to entertain and educate the next generation without the parental stress of being the only one to bring that screaming toddler! And Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts which, for a steal at 10, not only include the ticket, but also a programme and a coffee/sherry/juice perfect for those who prefer a spot of international entertainment to Sunday morning TV and chores.
In its next season it is wonderful to see that the Wigmore Hall is continuing its commitment to vocal music in its Festival of Song. As always, it has managed to assemble a star-studded cast list. Baritone Matthias Goerne (8 September 2006), whose resonant tones are perfect for the Wigmore’s acoustics, makes a welcome return. And what better way for him to start such a festival than with offerings from the master himself, Schubert?
Goerne’s successors, who will each deliver their own unique and accomplished take on this most human of musical genres, include Anne Sofie von Otter, Gerald Finley, Ian Bostridge, Barbara Bonney, Christian Gerhaher, Felicity Lott, John Mark Ainsley, Philip Langridge and Simon Keenlyside amongst others, some of whom are less well known, but are tipped as the up-and-coming stars of the future.
The Chamber Music Season also returns with a high-profile line-up of performers including Thomas Ads, who will be accompanying Anthony Marwood in a programme that will recreate concerts given by Stravinsky and Samuel Dushkin (9 September 2006).
Other highlights include performances by the Nash Ensemble, who will be playing with Susan Gritton, Lucy Wakeford and Martyn Brabbins in ‘Realms of Gold Elgar, his contemporaries and successors’ (25 November 2006).
Also worth looking out for are concerts featuring the Aviv String Quartet, who return to the Wigmore to play an interesting programme of Mendelssohn, Berg and Beethoven (19 October 2006), and the young but vibrant Jerusalem Quartet (15 November 2006).
The Belcea Quartet will be initiating the first in a three day series of concerts marking the 30th anniversary of Benjamin Britten‘s death (2 December 2006). It will be a tribute to the contributions he made to British music, many of which he premiered at the Wigmore Hall.
Another event to note is the culmination of the Kurtg festival to celebrate the Hungarian composer’s 80th birthday (11 November 2006). He will take to the stage alongside his wife, the violinist Hiromi Kikuchi, to play a programme of his works including the UK premire of Hipartita.
2007 brings with it more Chamber Music and more world-class ensembles. The dynamism of the Florestan Trio will be let loose in two concerts (13 and 14 January 2007), the Artemis Quartet is due to perform an evening of Brahms and Schoenberg quartets (16 January) and Soloists of the London Philharmonic Orchestra will entertain in March (12 March).
The Wigmore Hall’s Early music & Baroque Series has always drawn the best musicians and ensembles. The venue’s atmosphere is ideally suited to the delicate nuances of early styles of playing and their instruments.
The Academy of Ancient Music, with their trademark clarity and precision, will present a concert of Handel, Telemann and Bach concertos (31 October 2007) and the King’s Consort will be continuing the in the same vain with a showcase of all six of Bach’s vivacious Brandenburg Concertos (31 December 2006). In fact, the Wigmore seems to be making a feature of Bach in this coming season as 2007 includes more tributes to the great man by the Purcell Quartet (20 May 2007)) and Sonnerie (12 June).
Another special mention must go to Steven Isserlis‘ input with his ongoing involvement in making music accessible to children through his books and CDs and participation in the Wigmore’s Family Concert scheme (4 November 2006). He also heads a Steven Isserlis Beethoven Day, which is to include a wide range of music including a concert of Sonatas.
These are only a handful of the noteworthy events which are due to take place at the Wigmore Hall during the coming 2006/7 season. As always there is just not enough time to see everything that looks good, but whatever you chose, you won’t be disappointed.