Season Preview 2020

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra has launched its 2020 season, the first under incoming Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Eivind Aadland. The highlights make for a Germanic-flavoured season with a Brahms Festival, plenty of Beethoven to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, plus works by Mendelssohn and Mozart. However, there are plenty of rarities for the curious including works by Ives, Rautavaara, Nielsen and Frank Martin.

Tasmanian Symphony OrchestraTSO incoming Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Eivind Aadland

“I’m a firm believer in music’s power to transform our lives, in ways big and small, so I’m delighted that our 2020 season offers all kinds of transformative experiences, whether for toddlers hearing the TSO for the first time, school students discovering the ‘wow factor’ of a full symphony orchestra or adult concert-goers looking to be moved and touched by what we do. We won’t let you down!” said TSO CEO Caroline Sharpen.

The year kicks off in February with a two-week celebration of the music of Johannes Brahms – a festival the TSO are calling “Brahmsiana” – featuring all four of the Hamburg-born but Viennese-domiciled master’s symphonies, the First Piano Concerto (with Czech pianist and winner of the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition Lukáš Vondráček), the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello (with Tasmin Little and Umberto Clerici), Ein Deutsches Requiem (with soloists Siobhan Stagg and James Clayton), and host of chamber works and piano music.

Aadland is an acclaimed conductor of Norwegian music – he conducts the Suites from Grieg’s Peer Gynt later in the season with soprano Carolyn Sampson. He is also, it appears, an avid Brahms-ophile and will conduct all of the orchestral concerts. “Audiences have become so accustomed to hearing Brahms’ orchestral music performed by Wagner-sized orchestras that they have lost sight of the delicacy, transparency and subtlety of Brahms’ orchestration,” the orchestra points out in its press release. “In fact, Brahms wrote for a modestly proportioned double-wind orchestra [and] the TSO is precisely the same size as the renowned Meiningen Orchestra, which Brahms knew well, honouring it with the premiere of his Fourth Symphony.”

Tasmanian Symphony OrchestraLukáš Vondráček. Photo © Irene Kim

Alongside the orchestral events, Vondráček will lead three concerts of Brahms’ chamber music to be held at MONA and performed by ensembles drawn from the TSO. Brahmsiana also includes the Australian Chamber Orchestra in a string orchestra arrangement of Brahms’ sunny String Sextet and Richard Tognetti’s arrangement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

The Beethoven anniversary will involve performances of the Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos over successive weekends in November (with Spanish pianist Javier Perianes), the Eggner Trio taking the solo roles in the Triple Concerto (that concert also includes Rautavaara’s Symphony No 7, Angel of Light), and the Mass in C conducted by former Queensland Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor – now TSO Principal Guest Conductor – Johannes Fritzsch (with Ross Edwards’ Symphony No 2 Earth Spirit Songs also on the menu).

Another TSO regular celebrating a birthday in 2020 is Howard Shelley. The British pianist and conductor has been a Hobart fixture for over 30 years now and will appear as soloist and conductor in a pair of programs. The first features Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, while the second, which will be his 70th-birthday concert, features two Mozart piano concertos as well as Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

Howard Shelley, Tasmanian Symphony OrchestraHoward Shelley

Moving from Austria to Italy, the TSO will present another of their successful operas-in-concert. October will see Verdi’s La Traviata starring Opera Australia soprano Lorina Gore, who has won plenty of plaudits for her Violetta. Czech tenor Pavol Brelisk – a hit in OA’s Pearlfishers – will sing Alfredo. Former TSO Chief Conductor Marko Letonja conducts.

In other highlights, Simon Trpčeski will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 (in a program that includes Nielsen’s Second Symphony), with Li-Wei Qin performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto (in a program that includes Ives’ Symphony No 2) and Baiba Skride as the soloist in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No 2. The great Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger will be the soloists in an eclectic program of music by Haydn, Sculthorpe, Rodgers and Hart and even Joni Mitchell.

For those of an adventurous frame of mind, rising star conductor Elena Schwarz leads Wind and Brass Principals of the TSO in a program featuring Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, Frank Martin’s masterly Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments and Peter Eötvös’s Dialogue with Mozart, Da Capo for Orchestra.

Elsewhere, there will be a Last Night of the Proms celebration and a Viennese evening (to be performed in both Hobart and Launceston) plus a trio of Family Classics concerts including the ever-popular Juanita the Spanish Lobster, and for toddlers and pre-schoolers there’s the return of the Mini TSO program with tickets priced at a mere $7.

Ticket buyers purchasing a minimum of four concerts can buy tickets from October 3 with general tickets on sale on Monday December 9