The Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra has announced its 2019 season. Now in its sixth year, the period instrument band led by Artistic Director Richard Gill looks back to its origins in a season chock full of fresh takes on old favourites.
The season opens in March with Madness & Confrontation, a concert remembering ARCO’s birth, spawned from an idea by conductor Richard Gill, concertmaster Rachael Beesley and principal clarinettist Nicole van Bruggen, during Victorian Opera’s 2012 production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. “Richard Gill was conducting Ludovico’s Band, led by violinist and friend Rachael Beesley, in which I was playing,” Van Bruggen wrote in Limelight last year. “Richard was blown away by the calibre of the musicianship, and recognised that the Historically Informed Performance (HIP) knowledge and expertise assembled in the orchestra pit was something special. So, he invited us to create a new orchestra.”
Soprano Jacqueline Porter and baritone David Greco will join the orchestra in duets and arias from Mozart’s opera (the libretto of which Lorenzo Da Ponte based on Beaumarchais’s play Day of Madness, or the Marriage of Figaro).
Nicole van Bruggen. Photo © Nick Gilbert
Van Bruggen will star as soloist in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, performing the work on basset clarinet – the instrument for which it was originally written – before the orchestra caps off the concert with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
May brings with it Mannheim Rocket, named for the dramatic ascent synonymous with the Mannheim school – a group of 18th-century composers under the patronage of Duke Karl Theodor whose works for the famously virtuosic court orchestra played an important role in the evolution of the Classical symphony. The works of Mannheim composers Johann Stamitz and Franz Xaver Richter (whose respective Sinfonia à Quattro in A Major and Sinfonia à Quattro in B-flat Major appear on this program) influenced the young Mozart, whose Fifth Violin Concerto will be performed by Beesley before the concert culminates in the well-loved Symphony No 40.
Jakob Lehmann. Photo © Nick Gilbert
Rounding out the mainstage season in August is New Constellations, which will see ARCO joined by one of their regular collaborators, Berlin-based violinist Jakob Lehmann (who performed with ARCO in Classical Melodies this year and conducted Unfinished Romance the year before). The concert will feature Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings alongside a reconstruction – by Alan Boustead – of the nonet version of Brahms’ Serenade, based on archives and written accounts (Brahms destroyed the original).
ARCO’s music education program continues in 2019 with Katie Noonan, Jane Rutter and The Idea of North joining the orchestra next year for Voyage of Musical Discovery and the Young Mannheim Symphonists youth orchestra program will continue in Sydney and Melbourne.