With guests from Italy, France and Cuba, Paul Dyer’s 2018 season tells wide-ranging stories of musical journeys.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra has announced its 2018 season, with Australian and international guests joining the ensemble for a season of musical storytelling. “Travelling with sound, allowing emotions to be tossed in a beautiful maze of magical tales has led my artistic inspiration for our 2018 season – Tales of Baroque,” said ABO Artistic Director Paul Dyer. “Musical fantasies and stories spanning over 1000 years – some fiery, complex, lavish, suspenseful, romantic or bold – knit and navigate the six programmes for our Brandenburg year.”

“The international cast for our stage includes a French classical harpist; an explosive Italian violinist; a Cuban viola da gamba player; an ensemble of seven artists from Cambodia to Paris, along with the delicious Brandenburg Choir and the sensational Brandenburg Orchestra. Each programme reveals a story, a baroque or medieval tale, and a link from past to present. It’s often these stories that connect, intrigue and inspire us.”

The season kicks off in February with a programme based around 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis and his musical legacy. Featuring rising star Australian countertenor Maximilian Riebl, the concert will include works by Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons, Handel and Purcell – as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

Australian Brandenburg OrchestraXavier de Maistre, harp. Photo: supplied.

The first international guest for the year, harpist Xavier de Maistre, joins the Brandenburgs in May for a concert that spans CPE Bach and Mozart through to Ravel and De Falla. “I am so excited to secure the world’s greatest exponent of both baroque and modern harps,” said Dyer. “Xavier de Maistre from France makes his Australian debut with the Brandenburg in 2018. He’s a perfect fit for us. He’s not afraid to push boundaries and bravely forges his own path, letting the harp sing in a distinctively new voice.”

Seven musicians from La Camera delle Lacrime – a ‘medieval world folk’ ensemble based in France – will join the ABO in July and August for a programme titled Karakorum. Billed as an “exotic pasticcio created by Bruno Bonhoure and Khaï-dong Luong featuring Mongolian melodies, Buddhist hymns, Sufi chants and more,” the programme follows the journey of 13th-century Franciscan monk William of Rubruck from Constantinople to the court of the Great Khan at the capital of the Mongol Empire, Karakorum.

Australian Brandenburg OrchestraLa Camera delle Lacrime. Photo: supplied.

“In 1253, a Franciscan monk named William of Rubruck was dispatched by King Louis IX of France on a 9,000 km journey by horseback from Constantinople to Karakorum to discover what lay at the edges of the Mongol Empire,” said Dyer. “His mission was to ask the Great Khan to convert to Christianity and join the Crusade. This journey began before Marco Polo was even born!”

Karakorum is a rare opportunity to witness a theatrical programme of forgotten Eurasian chants, hymns and songs brought to life on ancient and obscure instruments,” he said. “The exceptional ensemble of French, Chinese, Algerian and Cambodian artists, paired with the Brandenburg – both orchestra and choir – will be thrilling.”

Italian violinist Stefano Montanari returns to the ABO for the second time in September – he performed with the ensemble in 2013 – as soloist and guest director in a concert titled The Burning Man, performing works by Vivaldi, Locatelli and more. Australian baroque flautist Melissa Farrow will also join the ensemble as soloist in Johann David Heinichen’s Concerto for Flute in D Major.

Australian Brandenburg OrchestraLixsania Fernandez, viola da gamba. Photo: supplied.

Cuban viola da gambist Lixsania Fernandez joins Dyer and the ABO in November, performing Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and Viola da Gamba, Carl Heinrich Graun’s Concerto for Viola da Gamba in G Major and the Tango from Duchiffre’s Concerto for Two Violas da Gamba. In the same concert, the ABO’s concertmaster Shaun Lee-Chen performs the final concerto from Locatelli’s L’arte del violino, dubbed the Labyrinth for the composer’s score marking: “Laberinto armonico: Facilis aditus, difficilis exitus” (Harmonic Labyrinth: Easy to Enter, Difficult to Escape). The 2018 season is capped off in December with the ABO’s popular Christmas concert, Noël, Noël.

“The repertoire in the 2018 season spans over 1,000 years,” said Dyer. “Think about that. All that time. All that change. All those tales. But music is as important now as it was then. Bringing this music to life and to audiences across Australia is an honour and a joy.”

The Full Season