The Omega Ensemble has announced its 2020 season, with brand new works by Australian composers Sally Whitwell and Gordon Kerry amongst the highlights. In the Sydney-based group’s 15th birthday year, the Omega Ensemble will also take regular concerts to Melbourne and Newcastle.
Veronique Serret. Photo © Keith Saunders
“The music in our 2020 season represents more than 200 years of artistic experimentation, discovery, adversity and triumph,” said clarinettist and Artistic Director David Rowden. “Yet no matter when the creator’s pen first touched the blank manuscript, through performance these works remain entirely new.”
“It’s the power of the individual in performance that makes the music eternally new, and because of this I truly believe chamber music – and an ensemble of individuals – is the art form best suited to this expression,” he said.
The new season will also see a change in artistic leadership. “In 2020, pianist Maria Raspopova has announced she will step-down from her role as Co-Artistic Director, handing the position back to Founder and Clarinettist David Rowden,” Omega’s General Manager David Boyce said. “Raspopova will focus her time on performing commitments including as a principal musician with Omega Ensemble.”
The 2020 season is divided into two series: the Master Series, which includes performances in the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room and – in an expansion of the Ensemble’s performance schedule – Melbourne Recital Centre and Newcastle Art Gallery, as well as the Virtuoso Series in Sydney’s City Recital Hall.
The Master Series opens in February with Rowden leading a program of Poulenc, Khachaturian, Shostakovich and Bartók, while June will see the world premiere of a new Clarinet Quintet by Gordon Kerry (originally slated for a September concert this year that was cancelled due to funding issues) performed alongside Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G Minor and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1, featuring Raspopova as soloist. In September, American harpist Emily Granger will join Omega Ensemble for a program of harp trios featuring music by Ibert, Saint-Saëns, Glinka and Pärt – as well as the world premiere of a new Harp Trio by Sally Whitwell. The final Master Series concert, in December, will see pianist Clemens Leske perform with the Omega Ensemble in a concert of Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Sally Walker. Photo © Keith Saunders
The Virtuoso Series in City Recital Hall kicks off in March with a concert featuring Max Richter’s reimagining of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, The Four Seasons Recomposed, in a concert led by violinist Veronique Serret that will see the Richter performed alongside Bartók’s Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta, and Penderecki’s Sinfonietta No 2 for Clarinet and Strings. In July, the Omega Ensemble follows the success of this year’s concert and album collaboration with American composer Nico Muhly, with the Australian premiere of his 2010 Motion for clarinet, string quartet and piano, alongside Christopher Gordon’s Chamber Symphony and John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony. The final Virtuoso Series concert, in October, will see flautist Sally Walker perform Elena Kats-Chernin’s Night and Now Flute Concerto (which she premiered with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra in 2015) in a brand new sextet arrangement by the composer, on a program that also includes music by Janáček, Dohnányi and Dvořák.