Season Preview 2020

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has unveiled its 2020 offering and, like many orchestras worldwide in what will be the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth, the program centres on performances of all nine of the composer’s symphonies to be helmed by Principal Guest Conductor Mark Wigglesworth. Other highlights include the return of Nicholas Carter to conduct Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, a mini festival of music by women composers, a smorgasbord of violin concertos, and the Adelaide debuts of three musicians dubbed “child prodigies”: pianist Lauren Zhang (BBC Young Musician of the Year) and violinists Fumiaki Miura and Emily Sun.

Mark Wigglesworth. Photo © Sim Canetty-Clarke

“The ASO’s relationships with our dynamic Artistic Leadership Team continue to grow,” says ASO Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello. “Mark Wigglesworth will increase his weeks with the ASO; the legendary Pinchas Zukerman becomes our Principal Artistic Partner; and we’re delighted to announce that Paul Rissmann, one of the world’s leading music educators, will become our Creative Partner for the next three years.”

The 2020 Season will feature international conductors, and soloists from Estonia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel, America, Japan, India, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland, with 33 Australian artists and 85 South Australian Artists featuring across the season. “Cathy Milliken will present her third work for ASO as our Composer in Association; and our relationship with Artist in Association Grace Clifford continues to progress to another level of maturity,” adds Ciccarello.

The Beethoven celebration will include Zukerman as soloist in the Violin Concerto, a work for which he is justly renowned, while the symphonies will be heard in Adelaide Town Hall over ten days. “Beethoven’s symphonies: original, dramatic, spiritual, provocative, optimistic, profound, joyful, individual, universal. Nine words for nine works,” says Wigglesworth. “To hear them all is to journey through the complete range of human emotions, and to share that experience as a community is an opportunity to celebrate all that is positive about humanity.”

Grace Clifford. Photo © Anthony Browell

Among the soloists featuring on the program, Grace Clifford will play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto to open the first of the ASO Master Series concerts in February, while Andrew Bain, who started his career with the ASO and is now Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will return for the world premiere of Paul Dean’s co-commissioned Horn Concerto. Other concerto highlights include Natsuko Yoshimoto playing Brahms, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet playing Mozart, Li-Wei Qin playing Dvořák and Leonard Elschenbroich playing Elgar. Among conductors making their ASO debuts are four female rising stars: Elim Chan, Gemma New, Elena Schwarz and Jessica Gethin.

Another ASO commission has been inspired by the South Australian Museum Ediacaran fossil collection. The Our Place program will include the world premiere of a new work by ASO Composer in Association Cathy Milliken that takes its cue from the paleogeology of the sandstone to be found in the Flinders Ranges. The concert also features Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes performing the ravishing Barber Violin Concerto.

A pair of special events include former ASO Artist in Association Nicholas McGegan and the Adelaide Chamber Singers performing Handel’s Messiah and She Speaks, “a celebration of the past, present and future of women composers in Australia and beyond”. Curated by SA composer, Anne Cawrse, the day-long program, which includes a symposium, will explore music from the mid-19th century up until today with works on the bill by Australians Dulcie Holland, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Elena Kats-Chernin and Lisa Cheney, as well as the USA’s Caroline Shaw and Kaija Saariaho from Finland.

SA composer, Anne Cawrse

Elsewhere, the program includes a fair amount of music designed to appeal to lovers of popular classics. Guy Noble presents Classical Hits – “a journey through classical music’s finest moments, with infectious melodies, heart-wrenching harmonies, and breathtaking climaxes” – which will include Adelaide-based pianist Konstantin Shamray playing Gershwin. Noble also returns with Classics Unwrapped: four concerts each with their own theme (Magic, Royalty, Animals and Christmas) offering bite-sized helpings of classical favourites, while Big Hits of the Small Screen features music from TV classics ranging from A Country Practice and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo to The Simpsons and Dad’s Army. Those after something a little more more cerebral can sample Graham Abbott who presents four lunchtime Elder Hall concerts entitled “Mozart at Elder”.

Three collaborations with Adelaide Festival include the aforementioned Carter-conducted Mahler Five (coupled with Anthony Marwood playing Thomas Adès’s violin concerto Concentric Paths), as well as writer/director/designer Romeo Castellucci’s acclaimed staging of Mozart’s Requiem, which proved a hit at this year’s Aix Festival. The third event will be an intriguing concert entitled The Sound of History: Beethoven, Napoleon and Revolution in which leading Australian composer and violist Brett Dean will lead the ASO from the orchestra’s viola desk while Sir Christopher Clark, Professor of History at Cambridge University, discusses the social, political and scientific upheavals that framed Beethoven’s writing of his famous Heiligenstadt Testament.

The rest of the program is devoted to more broad appeal concerts, such as Return of the Jedi in concert – with John Williams’ score played live – Nirvana Reimagined, in which you are invited to witness the ASO “transformed into a raging rock beast” (yes, really) and Respect: The Music of Aretha Franklin in which Kate Ceberano, Mahalia Barnes and others (currently TBA) explore the catalogue of the late, great Queen of Soul.


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