Sydney Philharmonia Choirs has announced its 2018 season, which comprises seven productions, with Leonard Bernstein’s Broadway hit Candide as the highlight of the programme, among a wealth of choral masterpieces.

Next year is the centenary of the birth of the hugely influential American composer, conductor, pianist and author and there will be Bernstein celebrations throughout the year. Sydney Philharmonia Choirs has chosen to stage his Broadway hit Candide. The semi-staged production, which will have two performances in September, is presented in collaboration with Pacific Opera and Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Photograph © Keith Saunders

Based on Voltaire’s classic satire, Bernstein’s operetta takes audiences on a tuneful romp with arias including Cunegonde’s sparkling Glitter and be Gay.

Sydney Philharmonia’s Music Director Brett Weymark will conduct and Mitchell Butel will direct. An acclaimed actor, Butel has had great success turning his hand to directing in recent years with credits including Porgy and Bess for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Violet at the Hayes Theatre and Spring Awakening for ATYP. The title role will be played by Alexander Lewis, who also performs with Opera Australia in Sydney next year in The Merry Widow (having just finished playing Danilo in Melbourne) and The Nose.

The 2018 season begins in February with Voyage of Voices featuring acapella music from Estonia, Australia and America by Arvo Pärt, Ross Edwards, Paul Stanhope, Pärt Uusberg and Eric Whitacre among others. The concert is performed by Sydney Philharmonia’s young adult choir VOX in collaboration with Estonia’s acclaimed E Stuudio Youth Choir, who have previously performed at Carnegie Hall. The two concerts at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta and Christ Church St Laurence will be conducted by Liz Scott from VOX and Külli Lokko from E Stuudio.

In March, Weymark conducts JS Bach’s B Minor Mass – the first of three 18th-century choral masterworks that he will conduct next year. The epic production will be presented in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House on Easter Saturday, with the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ Symphony Chorus and Chamber Singers along with soprano Janet Todd, mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell, tenor Andrew Goodwin and baritone David Greco as soloists.

Sydney Philharmonia ChoirsSydney Philharmonia Choirs. Photo © Keith Saunders

In May, Weymark conducts a performance of Joseph Haydn’s The Creation at Sydney Town Hall, with The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ Festival Chorus and soprano Taryn Fiebig, tenor Nicholas Jones and bass-baritone Adrian Tamburini. Then in June comes Handel’s oratorio Saul, which was a sell-out success at this year’s Adelaide Festival when Barrie Kosky’s Glyndebourne production was staged there. Weymark will lead more than 700 choristers along with sopranos Lorina Gore and Penelope Mills, counter tenor Nicholas Tolputt and bass Simon Lobelson as soloists, and the Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra. Saul will have one performace at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.

In August, Path of Miracles by British composer Joby Talbot will have its Sydney premiere. The a cappella masterpiece – described by The Times as “an evocative odyssey”–  follows the great Catholic pilgrimmage, the Camino de Santiago. Path of Miracles had its Australian premiere in October when British vocal ensemble Tenebrae, which commissioned the work in 2005, performed it at the Melbourne Festival. Talbot, who also composed the score to Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which the Australian Ballet performs in Sydney in December, talked to Limelight while he was in Australia in October. Read the interview here. Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will present performances at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta and The Crypt St Mary’s in Sydney.

The year finishes with a Christmas celebration, Carols at the House, featuring Teddy Tahu Rhodes and a 500-strong choir. In addition to its own season, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs will join the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for six performances in 2018 includng Verdi’s Requiem, Brett Dean’s Last Days of Socrates, and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major.

Tickets for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs’ 2018 season go on sale on Thursday November 30.