Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra has announced its 2021 NSW Season ahead of a Melbourne Season announcement expected in January of next year.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Circa in last year’s English Baroque concert. All photos supplied

A series of six live concerts, several of which play Parramatta as well as Sydney’s City Recital Hall, includes the orchestra’s latest collaboration with Circa Contemporary Circus as well as a mix of international and Australian-based soloists. Building on the technology developed during COVID-enforced lockdowns, each mainstage concert will be filmed and broadcast on their new digital platform Brandenburg One allowing their work to be seen not just across Australia on demand but potentially internationally as well.

“I’ve missed the electricity and anticipation of live performance over the past year,” Co-Founder and Artistic Director Paul Dyer said in the company’s press release where he expressed special pleasure that audiences would have a chance to hear international artists in a time of limited international travel. “Musicians get our buzz and energy from each another and from our audiences. We share their excitement during a surging crescendo and feel the collective bliss in the space between the final note of an aria and the audience’s applause. We can’t wait to unite our full orchestra and choir to share in the magic of live performance once again.”

Baroque violinist Jonas Zschenderlein

The season will open in February with the Brandenburg Orchestra and Choir in a program entitled Handel’s Rome, including a pair of Corelli’s Concerti Grossi and concluding with Handel’s Dixit Dominus, a dramatic choral masterpiece written in Rome at a time when opera had been banned by Papal decree.

Sara Macliver and Russell Harcourt will be the soloists in Higher Angels, a program of baroque arias and duets for soprano and countertenor with music by Bach, Handel, Monteverdi, Porpora and Vivaldi.

German baroque violinist Jonas Zschenderlein will make his Australian debut leading the orchestra in a concert called Bach’s Universe. Billed as an “all-Bach pasticcio,” the concert will feature individual ABO musicians playing a range of the composer’s unaccompanied instrumental works, the entire event specially lit, and culminating in a performance of the Orchestral Suite No 3 (which, of course, features the famous “Air on the G-String”).

Leila Schayegh. Photo © Marco Borggreve

Poet of the Violin features the Australian debut of Swiss-Iranian baroque violinist Leila Schayegh who performs on the 1675 Santa Teresia, an instrument crafted by the famous Andrea Guarneri, with which she was entrusted at the tender age of seven. The concert features music by Leclair, Bach and Vivaldi.

Brisbane-based Circa Contemporary Circus will appear in Italian Baroque, a whistle-stop musical tour of four Italian cities – Florence, Naples, Venice and Rome. Musicians and acrobats will be choreographed to music by Brescianello, Corelli and Vivaldi. “It will be sexy, it will be delicious and it will be passionately Baroque,” declares the press release.

The season will conclude with the traditional Noël! Noël! concert featuring a program of medieval hymns and perennial favourites with the orchestra boasting a line-up of baroque trumpets and sackbuts.

ABO Co-Founder and Artistic Director Paul Dyer

“There are a lot of factors at play as to when we can tour nationally once more, but we are doing everything in our power to return to our audiences around Australia as soon as we can and are looking forward to announcing our plans in Melbourne,” said Co-Founder and Managing Director Bruce Applebaum. “2020 was in many ways a stress test for the company, and for the broader Arts sector. The Brandenburg has emerged from the industry- wide shut down a more resilient, agile and creative organisation.”


ABO subscriber tickets are on sale now with single tickets on sale from 9 February 2021

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