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The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has announced an eclectic 2015 season with some bold programming that will see contemporary works performed shoulder to shoulder with well-loved staples of the orchestral repertoire. The standout in next year’s season however, has to be the world-class line up of artists that SSO Chief Conductor David Robertson has assembled for the concert performances of Wagner’s operatic masterwork Tristan and Isolde, taking place next June. The SSO’s Wagner blockbuster, led by Australian heldentenor and Opera Awards Singer of the Year Stuart Skelton in his role debut, and joined by Christine Brewer, Katarina Karneus and Derek Welton with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, is surely one of the must-see events for Opera lovers in Australia next year.
Robertson's confident and bold approach to 2015’s program continues with a series of concerts showcasing Schumann’s sometimes under-rated symphonies, which will share the bill with two Australian premieres. Robertson’s connection to the European avant-garde (he was the music director of contemporary music heavyweights Ensemble Intercontemporain from 1992 – 2000) has clearly inspired his choice to introduce a relatively unknown European composer, Germany's Jörg Widmann, to an Australian audience. The symphonic works of Schumann, who is perhaps better known for his Lieder and piano works, have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity of late, with all four having been recently recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, so Robertson's performances in February will be a chance for Australian concert goers to discover these underappreciated works. Other concerts will see David Robertson conduct a series of masterworks ranging from Beethoven's Ninth through Debussy's La Mer and including Holst's The Planets. Skelton makes a second appearance in 2015 in another epic vocal work to be conducted by Robertson: Beethoven’s supremely accomplished but fiendishly demanding, Missa Solemnis.
Another running feature of the 2015 season is a series of no less than 11 violin concertos with a roll-call of international soloists that reads like a who’s-who of the world’s finest. Christian Tetzlaff will perform both Mendelssohn’s well-loved concerto and the Australian premiere of Jörg Widmann’s Violin Concerto in February; Janine Jansen will tackle the Brahms Violin Concerto in March; June sees an American connection with Anthony Marwood performing American composer Steven Mackey’s concerto Beautiful Passing and Gil Shaham (Robertson's brother-in-law) performing Barber’s deeply moving concerto; Adele Anthony will showcase three Bach concertos in a single performance in July; Isabelle Faust will be both soloist and director for Mozart's Fourth Concerto in August; and concertmaster Andrew Haveron will be at the helm for Walton’s Violin Concerto in October. However the highlight of this series has to be international violin megastar Anne-Sophie Mutter performing the Dvořák Violin Concerto. This performance in September will be one of 2015’s must-see concerts.
Pianists also get a look in, however, and Sydneysiders will get to see recitals by Luois Lortie, Peter Serkin and the high-energy phenomenon that is Yuja Wang.
2015 will also see an exciting roster of visiting conductors joining the SSO: Yan-Pascal Tortelier conducts Frank and Mozart in May; Russian maestro Vasily Petrenko (who stirred up some controversial debate last year with his comments about the distracting effect of female conductors on an orchestra) directing an evening of Russian Romantic masterworks; Hot talent Lionel Bringuier, whose meteoric rise to international stardom at the age of only 27 has made him one of the world’s most sought after wunderkind; Simone Young brings Prokofiev into conjuction with Bell Shakespeare under the direction of John Bell in a special take on Romeo and Juliet; and the return of former SSO Chief Conductor Edo de Waart next December.
Lovers of musical theatre will also be given a rare treat this season with Audra McDonald Sings Broadway. The multi-Tony Award winning actress and singer is yet to announce the specifics of her program, but with acclaimed performances of Porgy and Bess and Sweeny Todd under her belt, Gershwin and Sondheim are sure to feature alongside the inevitable Broadway classics.
There is a lot to be excited about in SSO’s 2015 program. With world-class international talent in huge abundance and well-loved classics rubbing shoulders with Australian and world premieres, there is something to suit every taste, and demand for tickets should be fierce.
Full details of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2015 season at the SSO website.