Intermusica artists featured in Best of 2017 critics' picks
At the end of each year we look forward to reading critics’ musical highlights from the last 12 months; we’re delighted to see many of our artists featured in a host of such round-ups.
A standout achievement of the year was Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi 450 tour, which was praised globally. The tour commemorated the 450th anniversary of the composer’s death and visited the Berlin Festival, Philharmonie de Paris, the new National Forum of Music in Wrocław, and the Salzburg, Edinburgh International and Lucerne festivals, as well as Bristol’s Colston Hall, Aix-en-Provence, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana and a historic residency at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the composer's adopted home. Hugh Canning in the Sunday Times praised it as “dazzling”, while it was also chosen as one of the highlights of the year by the Guardian and Alex Ross of the New Yorker, who praised the “deft, vivid” productions that confirmed that “the first great opera composer remains the master of the game.” It was also chosen by the Herald Scotland, The Arts Desk, New York Classical Review and Chicago Classical Review.
Another highlight was the world premiere run of Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Hugh Canning picked it as his operatic highlight of the year in the Sunday Times, and it also featured in round-ups in the Evening Standard, The Arts Desk and The Stage.
Hugh Canning also praised David Butt Philip’s “searing” performance in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé.
Nicholas Collon’s Prom with his Aurora Orchestra, in which he conducted Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony from memory, was chosen as one of the Evening Standard’s highlights of the classical year, as was the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester’s visit to London. The orchestra’s performance at the Barbican featured Intermusica artists Leonidas Kavakos and Kirill Gerstein performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, and was part of the orchestra’s 275th anniversary tour, which Intermusica brought to Europe and Asia.
Several Intermusica artists also featured in The Arts Desk’s round-up of the best concerts and opera performances. In the concert round-up, Mark Wigglesworth’s Prom with the BBC Philharmonic was highlighted thanks to a “miraculous” performance of Haydn Symphony No.99. Kian Soltani was highly praised for his performance of Strauss Don Quixote at the Southbank Centre with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, with The Arts Desk writing that it was “quite the most vivid” critic David Nice had heard live. Nice also cited HK Gruber for his performance as conductor and chansonnier in his Frankenstein!! at the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s composer festival.
In The Arts Desk’s opera round-up, Martyn Brabbins’ performance of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Last Supper with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra “kicked off the year in thoughtful, complex style”, while David Nice also gave special mention to Wallis Giunta, writing that she was the “young singer of the year in my books” for her performances in L'enfant et les sortileges and Trouble in Tahiti in Opera North's well-received Little Greats series of one-act operas. Giunta was also named 'Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera' in the WhatsOnStage Opera Poll.
Meanwhile, Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s new recording of Bach St Matthew Passion, made with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, was chosen as one of Gramophone’s Critics’ Choice, as was Boris Giltburg’s account of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with Carlos Miguel Prieto and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Composer and music writer Robert Hugill picked John Wilson’s recording of Walton’s Façade as one of his top recordings of the year. Also featured were Sir James MacMillan’s “powerful” Stabat Mater and Martyn Brabbins’ latest entry in the Romantic Piano Concerto series for Hyperion, this time featuring the piano concertos of Roger Sacheverell Coke.
The Pavel Haas Quartet once again found great critical success with their latest CD, which featured Dvorák Piano and String Quintets and was made with Boris Giltburg and founder and former member Pavel Nikl. The album was chosen as one of the records of the year by the Boston Globe and WQXR.
John Wilson debuts with the Bergen Philharmonic
John Wilson makes his debut with Bergen Philharmonic on 11 and 12 January 2017 with a programme celebrating music from Hollywood, featuring works by Korngold, Waxman, Rozsa and John Williams. Wilson has recently performed this programme with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony to critical acclaim:
"[Wilson] understands how this music should be played, is a mine of anecdotal information, and communicates it to orchestras and audiences alike with a relaxed determination that’s utterly infectious... a fastidious conductor, never tempted to wallow, always seeking clarity and a real stickler for details. His beat is clean and clear, his stance determined."
Wilson then returns to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to perform a Bernstein programme with a cast including Kim Criswell, Julian Ovenden and University of Birmingham Voices. The performance takes place at Symphony Hall on 24 January.
John Wilson makes debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in three New Year's Concerts
John Wilson makes his debut with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin this month, joining the orchestra for three New Year’s concerts taking place on 31 December and 1 January at Berlin Tempodrom.
The performances, entitled From Barber to Broadway, feature a wide variety of American repertoire from film, the stage and the concert hall, and also feature accompanying performances from artists from Circus Roncalli.
Wilson begins 2018 with another debut, this time with the Bergen Philharmonic: he leads the orchestra in two concerts of 20th-century film music, titled Hollywood Rhapsody.
John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra
John Wilson performs British and American repertoire with several UK orchestras throughout November, beginning with the Philharmonia Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 9 November 2017. Wilson conduct the orchestra in a programme of Holst The Planets and Vaughan Williams Symphony No.7 ‘Sinfonica antartica’. Wilson and the orchestra also give a concert at Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre on 8 November, when they perform The Planets alongside Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 with British violinist Callum Smart and Nicolae The Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture.
Following this, Wilson returns to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert in Nottingham on 17 November. The all-Copland programme includes the composer’s Symphony No.3 and Corral Nocturne from Rodeo.
Wilson then returns to BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for his first concert with the orchestra of the season with a performance in Aberdeen on 26 November. The programme includes Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations, as well as Grieg’s Holberg Suite and Glazunov’s Violin Concerto with Roman Simovic.
John Wilson makes debut with the Oslo Philharmonic
John Wilson travels to Norway this month to make his debut with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra on 12 and 13 October 2017. Wilson joins the orchestra at Oslo's Konserthus for an orchestral programme celebrating Hollywood’s best scores, including music by Korngold, Waxman and Rosza among others. The concert on 12 October will be broadcast live on NRK.
Following this, Wilson makes a second Scandinavian debut of the month, this time with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra on 19 October. Wilson conducts the orchestra in a programme of Britten Sinfonia da Requiem, Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Rachmaninov Symphony No.3.
Intermusica's summer in reviews
2017 marked another highly successful summer for Intermusica's artists, who gave critically acclaimed performances at festivals all over Europe. Read a small selection of reviews below.
Brett Dean's Hamlet received its world premiere at Glyndebourne in June and was greeted with universal acclaim. The Sunday Times called it "the operatic event of the year", while in a five star review the Times wrote that “Dean’s skill at creating a supercharged orchestral subtext to each scene is matched by his immense theatricality. Quite apart from his unerring pacing of the story, he also creates at least a dozen moments where sheer sonority alone sends shivers up the spine… The overall impression is of a richly imaginative composer at the top of his game.”
Lise Davidsen made a critically acclaimed UK operatic debut in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in June. Described as possessing "one of the greatest voices I have ever head" by the Observer, Davidsen's debut was described as "one of those 'I was there' moments" by the Times.
Joshua Weilerstein made an "auspicious" debut at the Proms on 19 July, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and his sister Alisa Weilerstein in a programme of Rebel, Berlioz and Pascal Dusapin. Classical Source praised his "admirably prepared and presented" Symphonie fantastique.
Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra returned to the Proms to perform another symphony from memory on 22 July. This time, they performed Beethoven Symphony No.3 ‘Eroica’, preceded by Strauss Metamorphosen. The Times called it “gripping stuff… an astonishing feat of concentration. With Nicholas Collon favouring speeds ranging from zippy to hair-raising, there was virtuosity all around the band too…an impassioned account of Strauss’s desolate but gorgeous Metamorphosen.”
The Pavel Haas Quartet made a stellar return to the Verbier Festival on 22 July, with Bachtrack praising the quartet for their "old-fashioned virtues of watchfulness, aural alertness and intense concentration... From the micro-perfection of its opening chord to an ethereally feathered final note, this was an Allegro con brio of unfolding joys."
Michel van der Aa was the Composer in Residence at this year's Lucerne Festival, with his works performed throughout the festival. The Luzerner Zeitung praised his "easy handling of current technological possiblities", while the Neue Zurcher Zeitung wrote that his "music theatre of beguiling opulence... might offer a view of the future of opera".
Mark Wigglesworth was joined by pianist Stephen Hough and the BBC Philharmonic at the Royal Albert Hall on 29 July to perform Brahms Piano Concerto No.1, David Sawyer The Greatest Happiness on Earth and Haydn Symphony No.99. The Sunday Times claimed that Wigglesworth demonstrated "the most authoritative conducting, instantly masterly, I’ve witnessed so far at these Proms, Bernard Haitink’s appearance apart. And Wigglesworth seems close to Haitink’s level... One knew all would be right about this account because Wigglesworth’s intensity was unanswerable.”
Sir John Eliot Gardiner had a busy summer, performing twice at the Proms as well as continuing the Monteverdi Trilogy tour at the Salzburg, Edinburgh and Berlin festivals. His Proms performance of Berlioz La damnation de Faust with the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique was described as "thrilling" by the Observer in a five star review, while the Salzburger Nachrichten praised the Monteverdi Trilogy performances at the Salzburg Festival: "The harmony and the symbiotic relationship of the performers and their conductor has reached a degree of perfection, which shows style, form awareness and playful freedom."
John Wilson gave two performances at the BBC Proms this year, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and his John Wilson Orchestra. This year, Wilson led the JWO in two critically acclaimed performances of Rogers & Hammerstein Oklahoma! on 11 August: "no conductor appreciates the importance of an orchestration’s inner voices like Wilson, or is more adept at caressing a countermelody without letting it get in the way." (Spectator)
Andreas Haefliger returned to the Edinburgh International Festival this year, giving an "inspiringly commanding" solo recital in August: "Haefliger the thinker is also the pianist who held this audience enthralled until they leapt to their feet at the end, cheering." (Herald Scotland)
Also in Edinburgh, Richard Egarr led Iestyn Davies and the Academy of Ancient Music in two performances of Bach and Telemann. The Scotsman praised the performances, which were "delivered with a style and panache that lifted the notes clean off the page with their precisely pointed rhythms."
Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Beyond the Score® was presented at the Proms on 23 August in “an excellent evening of innovation” (Bachtrack), with a a multi-media exploration of the symphony directed by Beyond the Score founder Gerard McBurney presented alongside a performance of Dvorák Symphony No.9 ‘From the New World’ from the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder.
Leonidas Kavakos reunited with Riccardo Chailly on 25 August, as Intermusica brought the conductor and his Filarmonica della Scala to the Proms to perform Brahms and Respighi. Kavakos performed the Brahms Violin Concerto, a performance which was praised for the "the way he made the music breathe and sing in lyrical, expansive paragraphs while remaining continuously alert both to subtleties of meaning and absolute directness of expression." (Guardian)
Kirill Gerstein continued his partnership with Semyon Bychkov on 31 August, joining the conductor and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.1:
"[Gerstein] delivered the slow movement with improvisatory freedom and dazzled with crystalline virtuosity in the finale." (Daily Telegraph)
John Wilson conducts Vaughan Williams & Holst at the BBC Proms
John Wilson returns to the BBC Proms once again this year, performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 25 July 2017. Wilson conducts the orchestra in a programme of Vaughan Williams Symphony No.9 and Holst The Planets. Wilson has received critical acclaim for his performances of Vaughan Williams Symphonies in recent concerts, including with the Philharmonia Orchestra in February:
"On this showing Wilson proved himself to be a master of the idiom and of structural control and command... Wilson had this music firmly in his grasp, yielding at just the right moments, and producing a splendiferous coda."
Wilson makes a second return to the Proms in August for his annual performances with the John Wilson Orchestra, conducting two performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! on 11 August.
John Wilson makes debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
John Wilson travels to Amsterdam this month to make his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on 7 July 2017. Wilson conducts the orchestra in an all-Bernstein programme at the Concertgebouw, showcasing the best of the composer’s works from stage and screen, including songs from On The Town, Wonderful Town, Candide and West Side Story, among others. Soloists include Kim Criswell, Scarlett Strallen, Julian Ovenden and Nadim Naaman. The performance will be broadcast live on Avrotros Radio.
Wilson has received universal critical acclaim for his conducting of Bernstein, with his performance at the 2015 BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra described as “almost as mesmerising, in capturing the rambunctious, provocative, tender, greathearted spirit of the man” (The Times) as Bernstein’s own Proms debut.
Another critic said: “Wilson conducted with a rare combination of relaxed understatement, which coaxed things along with an easy swing, and exactitude which ensured that no detail was overlooked and the players cohered meticulously... Wilson demonstrated consummate appreciation of both the power of the details and the impact of the whole.” (Opera Today)
Listen to John Wilson’s critically-acclaimed performances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Three of John Wilson’s recent performances are currently available on the BBC website. The first, Wilson's inaugural performances as Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 16 March 2017, features a performance of Korngold's rarely-performed Symphony. Click here to listen (available until 31 May).
Wilson’s also conducted the orchestra in a performance of Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and Elgar Symphony No.3, on 27 April - click here to listen (available until 23 May). The performance was praised by critics:
“Wilson found a profound, pulsating cohesion missing from previous interpretations. Besides the raw, immediate presence of the opening theme and the caressing gorgeousness of its quick-to-act counterfoil, a contrast that sets the heaving and opulent expressive agenda for the whole work, Wilson insisted on pinpoint clarity of texture.”
“This programme of 20th-century English music included the most compelling account of Anthony Payne's completion of Elgar's Third Symphony I think I've heard… the third movement undoubtedly sounds like the statement of a dying man, but in Wilson's hands was still appealingly dramatic and even cinematic… The second movement Scherzo, however, seemed playful and Frenchified in its dialogue between winds and strings.”
Wilson discusses his relationship with the orchestra in an interview with the Guardian, found here.
Wilson also joined the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to perform Vaughan Williams and Bax alongside Simon Halsey's CBSO Chorus on 10 May. Click here to listen (available until 9 June).
John Wilson continues exploration of British music with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson makes his third appearance of the season with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on 10 May 2017, continuing his exploration of British music following previous performances in March of Gilbert & Sullivan Yeoman of the Guard and a programme of short pieces by British composers at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.
For this performance, Wilson conducts a programme of Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Five Tudor Portraits, with Simon Halsey directing the CBSO Chorus, and Bax November Woods.
The performance takes place on 10 May and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Intermusica at the 2017 BBC Proms
The BBC announced the line-up for the 2017 Proms on 20 April 2017, and as ever Intermusica artists and orchestras play a leading role in the festival. Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and on the BBC website, with select concerts broadcast on BBC television live or at a later date.
Simon Halsey’s Proms Youth Choir give the opening concert of the Proms on 14 July, performing John Adams Harmonium alongside the BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner.
Joshua Weilerstein makes his debut at the Proms on 19 July, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra at 7.30pm the Royal Albert Hall. Weilerstein conducts a programme of Rebel Les élémens – le chaos, Berlioz Symphonie fantastique and Pascal Dusapin’s cello concerto Outscape, for which he is joined by his sister, cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra return to the Proms to perform another symphony from memory at 7.30pm on 22 July. This time, they perform Beethoven Symphony No.3 ‘Eroica’, preceded by an introduction from Tom Service accompanied by excerpts from Collon and the orchestra. The programme for the concert also includes Strauss Metamorphosen.
John Wilson makes the first of two appearances at this year’s Proms at 6.30pm on 25 July when he performs with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Wilson, the orchestra’s Associate Guest Conductor, leads the orchestra in a programme of Vaughan Williams Symphony No.9 and Holst The Planets.
Christopher Purves also makes two appearances at the Proms this year, with his first coming on 27 July. Purves joins Juanjo Mena, the BBC Philharmonic and the Crouch End Festival Chorus to perform the London premiere of Mark Simpson The Immortal, an oratorio inspired by Victorian séances.
Mark Wigglesworth is joined by pianist Stephen Hough and the BBC Philharmonic at 7.30pm on 29 July to perform Brahms Piano Concerto No.1, David Sawyer The Greatest Happiness on Earth and Haydn Symphony No.99.
Sir James MacMillan’s European Requiem receives its European premiere at the Proms at 7pm on 30 July from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Xian Zhang, with Jacques Imbrailo performing as the baritone soloist.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner returns to the Proms on 2 August with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, this time for a late night Prom at the Royal Albert Hall at 10.15pm. Gardiner conducts his ensembles in a performance of cantatas by Bach and Schütz.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner makes his second Proms appearance of the year at 7.30pm on 8 August, this time conducting the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in a performance of Berlioz La damnation du Faust.
Lise Davidsen makes her debut at the Proms at 7.30pm on 10 August with the BBC Philharmonic and John Storgårds. Davidsen joins the orchestra to perform Sibelius Luonnotar and extracts from Grieg Peer Gynt.
John Wilson’s second Proms appearance this year comes on 11 August when his John Wilson Orchestra returns for its annual concert. This year, Wilson leads the orchestra in two performances of Rogers & Hammerstein Oklahoma!, at 2pm and 7.30pm.
Christopher Purves joins the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle for a performance of Schoenberg Gurrelieder at 7.30pm on 19 August. Also performing are three of Simon Halsey’s choruses – City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Chorus and Orfeó Català. Halsey also leads a Gurrelieder Proms Extra Sing Day at London Imperial College earlier that day.
Tim Mead returns to the Proms alongside John Butt and the Dunedin Consort for the third concert of the Proms’ Reformation Day at 7.45pm on 20 August. Mead follows last year’s Bach Mass in B minor with Bach St John Passion, singing alongside a cast that also includes Sophie Bevan, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook and Andrew Tortise.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Beyond the Score® appears at the Proms at 7.30pm on 23 August, with a performance of Dvorák Symphony No.9 ‘From the New World’ given by the Hallé Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder alongside a multi-media exploration of the symphony directed by Beyond the Score founder Gerard McBurney.
Leonidas Kavakos reunites with Riccardo Chailly at 6.30pm on 25 August, as Intermusica bring the conductor and his Filarmonica della Scala to the Proms to perform Brahms and Respighi. Kavakos joins the orchestra for Brahms Violin Concerto, which is followed by Respighi Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome.
Joélle Harvey returns to the Proms as Glyndebourne’s production of Mozart La clemenza di Tito comes to the Royal Albert Hall at 7pm on 28 August. Harvey takes the role of Servilia, with accompaniment from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Robin Ticciati.
Intermusica is delighted to bring the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko to the Proms at 7.30pm on 29 August. Petrenko conducts the orchestra in an all-Russian programme of Stravinsky The Firebird (1919 version), Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.4 and Shostakovich Symphony No.12.
The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra bring an all-Mendelssohn programme to the Proms this year from 1pm on 3 September. Conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado, the orchestra perform Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture, Violin Concerto with Isabelle Faust and Symphony No.5
Ben Johnson joins Sakari Oramo, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and an international cast of soloists for the Last Night of the Proms on 9 September. The Last Night begins from 7.15pm and will be broadcast live on BBC Two, and Johnson sings Kodály Te Deum.
John Wilson conducts first performance as Associate Guest Conductor of BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson conducts his inaugural concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as Associate Guest Conductor of the orchestra at Glasgow City Halls on 16 March 2017. The performance features Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture, a selection of Schubert Lieder orchestrations performed by baritone Benjamin Appl, and Korngold's Symphony in F-sharp major.
Also in March, Wilson returns to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for two programmes of British music. The first concert, taking place on 1 March, features a selection of works by composers such as Walton, Decius, Elgar, Ireland and Vaughan Williams, as well as songs by Coates, Wood and Stanford performed by Roderick Williams. On 4 March, Wilson and the orchestra give a concert performance of Gilbert & Sullivan Yeoman of the Guard, featuring soloists Sara Fox, Heather Shipp, Benjamin Hulett, Simon Butteriss and Sir Thomas Allen.
John Wilson makes his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson makes his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra on 15 February 2017 when he steps in to conduct the UK premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage Håkan, written for and performed by trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.
Also on the programme is Rachmaninov Symphony No.2, which Wilson conducted with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain on a critically acclaimed tour in the UK:
“it was Wilson’s musical qualities that directed a performance of the greatest insight and compelling artistry... I have not heard a finer or more penetrating account of it in more than sixty years of concert-going.”
John Wilson continues acclaimed Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra
John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra on 12 February to continue his acclaimed Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle at the Royal Festival Hall. For this installment of the cycle, Wilson conducts Vaughan Williams Symphony No.2 'A London Symphony', which follows Elgar Cockaigne (In London Town), Walton Viola Concerto and Julian Anderson Prayer for Solo Viola, which are performed by Lawrence Power.
Wilson’s last appearance with the Philharmonia, which featured Vaughan Williams Symphony No.1 'A Sea Symphony', was described as “a terrific performance” (Classical Source) with “a real sense of awe and discovery on this spiritual voyage” (Evening Standard):
“John Wilson’s conducting never put a foot wrong, avoiding any attempt to ‘make points’ but demonstrating a keen awareness of the pacing of the work... he unerringly brought out individual wind lines in the composer’s almost impressionist textures, and the marvellous sense of stillness he evoked in the final section..."
Seen and Heard International
John Wilson makes debut with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson begins the month in Stockholm for his debut with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducting two performances at the Berwaldhallen on 2 and 3 February 2017.
Both concerts present Wilson’s acclaimed Hollywood Rhapsody programme, which features music from classic films including Star Wars, Psycho and Gone with the Wind. Click here to watch a clip from Wilson’s 2013 performance of the programme at the BBC Proms.
Wilson recently conducted a critically-acclaimed performance of the programme with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra:
"[Wilson] understands how this music should be played, is a mine of anecdotal information, and communicates it to orchestras and audiences alike with a relaxed determination that’s utterly infectious... a fastidious conductor, never tempted to wallow, always seeking clarity and a real stickler for details. His beat is clean and clear, his stance determined."
John Wilson conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain on tour in the UK
John Wilson begins the new year with a UK tour with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, beginning at Nottingham's Theatre Royal on 5 January 2017. The tour then continues to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (6 January) and London’s Royal Festival Hall (7 January).
Wilson leads the orchestra in a programme of Brett Dean Komarov’s Fall, Szymanowski Symphony No.4 ‘Symphonie Concertante’ with soloist Tamara Stefanovich and Rachmaninov Symphony No.2.
The concert on 6 January will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
John Wilson makes debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera conducting Madama Butterfly
John Wilson makes his debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera this month when he conducts Madama Butterfly from 14 October 2016. He conducts further performances at Glyndebourne on 17, 20, 23, 26, and 29 October and 1 and 2 November before the production goes on tour in December.
Wilson’s debut also marks Glyndebourne’s first-ever production of Puccini’s beloved opera. The stage director is Annilese Miskimmon and the cast includes Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San and Matteo Lippi as Pinkterton.
Renowned worldwide for his Hollywood-focused John Wilson Orchestra, Wilson has also earned critical praise for past operatic conducting. Critics hailed his concert performances of Léhar The Merry Widow and Strauss Die Fledermaus with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall:
“…what [Wilson] has brought to his exploration of musicals is nothing other than outstanding all-round musicianship…. In this concert performance of Die Fledermaus …Wilson introduced his excellent knowledge of musicals in terms of understanding the type of sounds that have visceral appeal. In this way, he nailed the score by imbuing it with exuberance and a mighty punch, while never sacrificing an ounce of detail or rhythmic precision.”
Music OMH, April 2014
John Wilson returns to the BBC Proms for a celebration of George & Ira Gershwin
John Wilson returns once more to conduct the John Wilson Orchestra at the BBC Proms on 13 August 2016 at Royal Albert Hall. Wilson and his orchestra are regular guests at the Proms, and this year they perform a celebration of the songs of George and Ira Gershwin.
Wilson and his orchestra performed two Proms last year. The first programme featured songs associated with Frank Sinatra, and the second was a highly-acclaimed retrospective of the music of Leonard Bernstein:
"Wilson conducted with a rare combination of relaxed understatement, which coaxed things along with an easy swing, and exactitude which ensured that no detail was overlooked... a wonderfully glossy and rich string sound, characterful woodwind solos and beautifully refined horns, dance-band glitz from the brass, the hypnotic swing of saxophones and rhythm section combined to produce a technicolour kaleidoscope of shifting instrumental colours... Wilson demonstrated consummate appreciation of both the power of the details and the impact of the whole”
John Wilson: Echo Klassik award for Cole Porter in Hollywood
John Wilson has been awarded an Echo Klassik award in the ‘Klassik Ohne Grenzen’ (Classical Without Borders) category for his recording Cole Porter in Hollywood with his own John Wilson Orchestra on Warner Classics. Featuring music from Kiss Me Kate, High Society, Can-Can and Silk Stockings, the disc pays tribute to the legendary composer’s well-known Broadway hits.
The John Wilson Orchestra receive repeated critical acclaim for their performances of Hollywood classics, with a recent review commenting that:
“It’s a given that this is a virtuoso outfit, with a swinging, white-hot brass and rhythm section and strings that produce yard upon yard of velvet and silk... In short, the John Wilson Orchestra is through-the-roof fabulous”
The award ceremony will take place on 9 October 2016 in Berlin.
John Wilson makes debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson makes his debut this month with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, performing two programmes across six concerts from 16 June 2016.
In his first week in Sydney, Wilson leads the orchestra in a programme featuring music from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with familiar tunes from Star Wars, Psycho, Citizen Kane, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Gone with the Wind among others. Performances take place on 16, 17 and 18 June at Sydney Opera House.
The following week, Wilson conducts a programme of English and French repertoire on 23, 24 and 25 June, including Bax Tintagel, Ravel Piano Concerto in G major with soloist Jonathan Biss and Vaughan Williams Symphony No.2, ‘London’. Wilson has received repeated critical acclaim for his interpretation of Vaughan Williams' symphonies, including most recently for a performance with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where a review of the performance of the Fifth Symphony noted that:
“Wilson and the orchestra were speaking in their natural voice and communicating something of profound significance. The quiet ecstasy of the Symphony’s final resolution... quivered with sweetness and – yes – passion. But it wouldn’t have felt half as transcendent if Wilson hadn’t built to it so powerfully.”
Arts Desk (click here for the full review)
John Wilson continues Vaughan Williams cycle with the Philharmonia
John Wilson continues his Vaughan Williams cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra in three performances starting on 23 January 2016. Wilson and the orchestra visit The Anvil Hall, Basingstoke on 23 January, Royal Festival Hall, London on 24 January and St David’s Hall in Cardiff on 7 February. Wilson’s most recent performance with the Philharmonia was in January 2015, conducting Vaughan Williams Symphony No.5, and was warmly received by critics:
“Wilson coaxed from the strings a warm and beguiling tone, as thrilling as I can remember anywhere before.”
This programme includes Vaughan Williams Overture: The Wasps, Finzi Clarinet Concerto, with Mark van de Wiel as soloist, and Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 1: 'A Sea Symphony'. Wilson and the Philharmonia are joined by the Philharmonia Voices, as well as the Bristol & Gloucester Choral Societies.
John Wilson appointed Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
John Wilson has been appointed as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Associate Guest Conductor.
Known to audiences around the world for championing a wide range of music including both British and American, which will feature extensively in his work with the BBC SSO, he will take up his position with the orchestra in September 2016.
John Wilson said, “It’s a real honour and privilege to take up a position with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and I’m very much looking forward to working alongside these marvellous musicians. I’ve admired their playing for many years and it’s always a delight to return to Glasgow to work with them.”
Gavin Reid, Director BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, said, “The orchestra has worked with John for over a decade and we are delighted that this formal appointment means we can explore whole new areas of repertoire together, both in the concert hall and the studio .”
John Wilson first conducted the BBC SSO in 2002 and has since recorded a wide range of music with the orchestra for BBC Radio 3 including works by Bax, Walton, Holst, Saint-Saëns, Coates, Gershwin, Bernstein, Delius and Dutilleux. He takes over from Andrew Manze who was the orchestra’s Associate Guest Conductor from 2010 – 2014.
John Wilson conducts Bernstein at the BBC Proms
Following his Sinatra celebration at the Proms in August, John Wilson returns to the Royal Albert Hall with his John Wilson Orchestra for an all-Bernstein programme on 5 September 2015. Wilson and the orchestra are joined by the Maida Vale Singers and vocalists Louise Dearman, Lucy Schauffer, Scarlett Strallen and Julian Ovenden for a performance of some of Bernstein's best-loved works in addition to some rarely-heard pieces.
John Wilson returns to BBC Proms for two performances
John Wilson returns to the BBC Proms with his John Wilson Orchestra to give the first of two performances at this year’s Proms on 7 August 2015. The late-night performance at Royal Albert Hall celebrates the centenary of the birth of Frank Sinatra, and his contribution to popular song. Wilson is joined by guest vocalists including TV writer and comedian Seth McFarlane and British actor Jamie Parker, who perform the tunes made famous by Sinatra over his long career.
Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra return to the Albert Hall on 5 September, when they are joined by the Maida Vale Singers and vocalists including Louise Dearman and Lucy Schauffer for an all-Bernstein programme.
John Wilson performs with RTE National Symphony Orchestra at Galway Arts Festival
John Wilson performs at the Galway Arts Festival on 17 and 18 July 2015, where he conducts the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra two varied performances. The first performance includes Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Leonard Elschenbroich and Rachmaninov Symphony No.2, while the second includes Irish composer Kevin O’Connell’s new work, Early Music, alongside Beethoven Emperor Concerto and Nielsen Symphony No.4.
Both performances will be broadcast live on RTÉ Radio.
Watch John Wilson discuss the programme for 17 July, Rachmaninov and Elgar:
John Wilson returns to Philharmonia Orchestra with Walton & Vaughan Williams
John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall on 25 January in a programme that continues his cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies. He conducts Bax Tintagel, Walton Cello Concerto (soloist Steven Isserlis) and Vaughan Williams Symphony No.5. Further information about the concert is available here.
In 2014 Wilson conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra in a semi-staged version of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Royal Festival Hall in April; the performance was praised by Bachtrack: “John Wilson was in balletic form on the podium and the Philharmonia responded in stylish fashion”. He also appeared with the orchestra at the Brighton Festival for a choral programme of Bernstein, Ravel and Stravinsky in May.
Also in January, John Wilson conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in two concerts, the first in Leeds Town Hall on the 3 January followed by a concert at the Barbican on 4 January. The programme for these concerts includes Elgar Symphony No.1 in A-flat major, the symphonic poem ‘Pines of Rome ‘by Respighi, and Bach Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV.537 (arr Elgar). The same programme will also be performed at Highbury Grove School on the 7 January as part of the NYO ‘Inspire Schools’ workshop.
Wilson also returns to his post as Principal Conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia for a concert on 18 January at the Sage Gateshead with pianist Leon McCawley. The programme for this concert will include Gershwin Piano Concerto in F major, Copland Hoe Down from Rodeo, Barber Essay No.1, John Adams The Chairman Dances and Bernstein Symphonic Dances from Westside Story.
John Wilson & Dame Felicity Palmer in BBC Chamber Music Prom at Cadogan Hall
John Wilson conducts the Nash Ensemble at Cadogan Hall on 8 September in a BBC Proms Chamber Music matinee. He is joined by Dame Felicity Palmer for a performance of Walton’s Façade, with Ian Bostridge as her fellow narrator.
The programme also includes a performance of Shostakovich’s Four Waltzes.
John Wilson conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in Walton, Strauss and Korngold
John Wilson conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival on 30 July at Worcester Cathedral. Featuring Walton’s Henry V in the second half, the programme begins with Richard Strauss’s Don Juan and Korngold’s Violin Concerto with soloist Andrew Haveron.
This marks Wilson’s third concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra this season, having conducted a semi-staged version of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Royal Festival Hall in April, then appearing with the orchestra at the Brighton Festival for a choral programme of Bernstein, Ravel and Stravinsky in May.
On 2 August, John Wilson and his own orchestra make their annual performance at the BBC Proms. Following the huge success of the staged performance of My Fair Lady in 2012, Wilson returns to conduct Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate in its original 1948 version. The concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and is recorded for delayed transmission on television (BBC Two) in December.
John Wilson conducts Stravinsky, Ravel & Bernstein with the Philharmonia Orchestra
At the Brighton Festival on 24 May, John Wilson conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in a concert at the Brighton Dome Concert Hall. Wilson has a regular relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, with three concerts this season. At the Brighton Festival, he conducts a programme that includes Bernstein’s Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront, his Chichester Psalms, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.
Last month, Wilson conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra in a concert performance of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Royal Festival Hall, which was praised as a “stylish” and “lively” performance (Classical Source). In July, Wilson returns to the orchestra for a performance at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, where he conducts Strauss’s Don Juan, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, and Walton’s Henry V.
Next season, John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra in a programme of English music: Bax’s Tintagel, Walton’s Cello Concerto (with soloist Steven Isserlis), and Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No.5.
With the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin, of which he is Principal Conductor, John Wilson conducts a concert performance of Bizet’s Carmen on 31 May, with Patricia Bardon in the title role and with Gwyn Hughes Jones as Don José, and on 21 June a concert of Gershwin and Bernstein.
John Wilson returns to conduct Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall
On 27 April, John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra for a semi-staged concert performance of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Royal Festival Hall. It is directed and narrated by Simon Butteriss, who also plays Dr Blind. This concert follows the success of Wilson and Butteriss’s collaboration with the Philharmonia Orchestra with their concert performance of The Merry Widow in 2012. Martin Kettle of the Guardian praised “John Wilson's stylish conducting, and the Philharmonia in fine form”.
The cast for Die Fledermaus includes Toby Spence, Alan Opie, Aga Mikolaj, Pamela Helen Stephen and Jacques Imbrailo, as Dr Falke.
Wilson has a close relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra and tours with them to two regional festivals in the UK later this year. At Brighton Festival in May, he conducts a programme of Bernstein, Ravel and Stravinsky, and at Three Choirs Festival in August, the programme is Richard Strauss Don Juan, Korngold Violin Concerto and Walton Henry V. In January 2015, John Wilson returns with the Philharmonia Orchestra to Royal Festival Hall to conduct Vaughan Williams Fifth Symphony, alongside Bax Tintagel and the Walton Cello Concerto with Steven Isserlis.