January 2013: 2013/14 Season Release


Highlights include:

  • Three year Berlioz project led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, opening with The Damnation of Faust and Symphonie fantastique
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the UK première of a new work for organ and orchestra by Kaija Sariaaho, a co-commission by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Southbank Centre, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Orchestre National de Lyon as part of the Royal Festival Hall Organ refurbishment celebrations
  • A complete Brahms Symphony and Concerto Cycle with Andris Nelsons, also featuring the German Requiem and Song of Destiny
  • Bohemian Legends: a major project devised by the sensational young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša, celebrating the musical legacy of Dvořák and his associates
  • A series of special concerts marking the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss, led by conductors with a personal affinity for his music, including Christoph von Dohnányi and Lorin Maazel
  • A rare screening of the epic 6.5 hour 1927 silent film Napoléon with live orchestral soundtrack composed and conducted by Carl Davis
  • The Orchestra’s annual series of free pre-concert composer portraits curated by Unsuk Chin, Music of Today, featuring composers including Christophe Bertrand, Chris Paul Harman, Jonathan Harvey, Benedict Mason and Karin Rehnqvist
  • John Wilson leading a semi-staged production of Die Fledermaus
  • Return visits from conductors including Gustavo Dudamel, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Temirkanov, Edward Gardner and Tugan Sokhiev
  • A performance of Mahler’s epic Symphony of A Thousand conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen to close the season

The Philharmonia Orchestra and its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, have announced their 2013/14 season at the Orchestra’s London home base, Southbank Centre, where it has been Resident Orchestra since 1995. The season will see the Philharmonia performing 34 orchestral concerts, together with six small ensemble performances as part of its annual Music of Today series of contemporary composer portraits. The year’s programme begins and ends with performances of major works led by Salonen himself and features three significant composer-led projects.

Esa-Pekka Salonen commented:
“This is a season that I am particularly proud to present to London and the world. As well as an outstanding roster of artists, the year is headlined by projects that are particularly dear to me personally. I have been fascinated by Berlioz’s dramatic work for a long time, and am very much looking forward to bringing together the finest musicians and directors to help us explore this unique musical imagination over the next three years. I am also delighted to be bringing Kaija Saariaho’s new work to London for its UK première as part of the celebrations showcasing the refurbished Royal Festival Hall organ; and of course to shaking the Hall’s roof timbers with Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand at the end of the year.

This orchestra’s heritage is steeped in the music of Brahms, and I am delighted to welcome Andris Nelsons for the Philharmonia’s first complete Brahms symphony and concerto Cycle in over a decade. As the orchestra that premièred the Four Last Songs we are also particularly pleased to be marking the 150th Anniversary of his birth throughout 2014.

As part of bringing this extraordinary music to an even wider audience, I am very pleased that Symphonie fantastique also forms a key part of our recently released Orchestra for iPad app, developed together with Music Sales and Touch Press and recently announced as App of the Year for 2012 by the Daily Telegraph. We are absolutely committed to engaging our Southbank Centre audiences in an ever more innovative relationship with great music, and to reaching them in ways that extend far beyond the concert hall setting: through their tablets and phones, through video games, and through our live digital installations in unconventional venues. Classical music is in a vital and exciting phase in the second decade of the new millennium, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of its development.”

Salonen Berlioz Project 2013-2015
Esa-Pekka Salonen opens the 2013/14 season with performances of two of Berlioz’s most electrifying works, The Damnation of Faust and Symphonie fantastique (26 and 29 September). The stellar cast for Damnation includes Paul Groves as Faust, Gerald Finley as Méphistophélès, Christianne Stotijn as Marguérite and Roland Wood as Brander. The events held the start of a significant three-year exploration by Salonen of some of Berlioz’s most important dramatic and choral works, with events in future years to include performances of Roméo et Juliette and Grande Messe des morts, which will be announced more fully in due course.

Kaija Saariaho UK première: Maan varjot for organ and orchestra
Salonen leads the Orchestra in the UK première of a new work for organ and orchestra by the leading Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Maan varjot (Earth’s Shadows) is a joint commission by Southbank Centre, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and will be performed on the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall organ as part of the celebrations marking its return to the hall.

Season closing concert: Salonen/Mahler Symphony of a Thousand
Esa-Pekka Salonen closes the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2013/14 season closes on 29 June with a performance of Mahler’s mightiest 8th symphony, the Symphony of a Thousand. Described by Mahler as his “gift to the nation”, the second part of its epic drama is a setting of Goethe’s Faust, mirroring the season opening.

Brahms Cycle: Andris Nelsons
Andris Nelsons leads the Orchestra in its first Brahms Symphony and Concerto cycle in more than a decade, with concerts in October (10th and 13th), January (23rd) and February (20th and 23rd). Hélène Grimaud performs both piano concertos (10 October and 23 January), and Christian Tetzlaff plays both the Violin Concerto (20 February) and the Double Concerto, for which he is joined by his sister, Tanja Tetzlaff. The series culminates with a choral event featuring both Schicksalslied and Ein deutches Requiem, with Annette Dasch, James Rutherford and the Philharmonia Chorus.

Bohemian Legends
The sensational young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša is passionate about the music of his homeland. He has devised a series of three orchestral concerts, together with related chamber events, celebrating the musical legacy of Antonin Dvořák, through his own music and through the voices of the compatriot composers he particularly influenced, his son-in-law Josef Suk and Leoš Janáček. Highlights include:

  • A rare performance of Suk’s Asrael Symphony, composed in memory of Dvořák and his daughter, Suk’s wife (15 May)
  • Janáček’s Glagolithic Mass with soloists including Thomas Trotter (13 April)
  • Free pre-concert chamber performances, including Janáček’s The One Who Disappeared, introduced by Jakub Hrůša
  • An “Explore Dvořák’s Bohemia” day of talks and chamber music led by specialists and musicologists 

Strauss 150th Anniversary

The Philharmonia Orchestra has a particularly close relationship with the music of Richard Strauss, who conducted the Orchestra in 1947; the Philharmonia performance the world première of the Four Last Songs in 1950 in London after the composer’s death. In 2014 the Orchestra will be making its contribution to the worldwide celebrations marking the 150th Anniversary of Strauss’s birth by inviting conductors with a particular affinity with his music to offer their personal tributes. Christoph von Dohnányi leads performance of Ein Heldenleben (27 Febuary) and the Four Last Songs (5 June); Lorin Maazel conducts a mighty programme pairing Also Sprach Zarathustra with Ein Alpensinfonie (20 March) and Philippe Jordan presents Don Juan, songs and the Dance of the Seven Veils and closing scene from Salome (30 March).

Abel Gance’s epic 6.5 hour 1927 film, Napoléon, is widely recognised as one of the most extraordinary achievements in cinematic history. It is rarely presented, not only because of its duration but because of the complex screening requirements demanded by its dazzling triptych finale. Carl Davis’s score for the film, the longest ever composed, is also regarded as one of the finest; he conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in a live screening of an elaborately tinted and toned restoration of the original film print by Photoplay Productions and the BFI over 8 hours on 30 November.

Gustavo Dudamel returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra
The Orchestra is delighted to welcome back Gustavo Dudamel for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 on 14 November. Dudamel first conducted the Philharmonia as part of the Conductors’ Academy training programme for young talented musicians. Following a late cancellation he was invited by the Orchestra to take over a performance at the Bonn Beethovenfest in 2004, a concert that cemented his relationship with the Philharmonia, which has continued ever since.

Die Fledermaus
Following the huge success of The Merry Widow in December 2012, together with his MGM musical and Gilbert & Sullivan projects over the previous two seasons, John Wilson conjures up the glittering hedonism of fin-de-siècle Vienna for a performance of Johann Strauss’s finest score Die Fledermaus on 27 April 2014.

Music of Today
Unsuk Chin’s third season as Artistic Director of Music of Today, which is supported by the Meyer Foundation, features six eclectic musical composer-portraits, performed as free pre-concert chamber events in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall ahead of Philharmonia main evening concerts. Featured artists in 2013/14 are Christophe Bertrand, Chris Paul Harman, Jonathan Harvey, Benedict Mason and Karin Rehnqvist. The series is completed by the annual Young Composers Academy event, supported by the Royal Philharmonic Society, in which three young musicians are invited to spend a year working alongside Unsuk Chin and Philharmonia musicians to compose new works for performance in concert.

Key artist relationships
The Philharmonia is delighted to welcome the world’s finest artists to the Royal Festival Hall podium. In addition to Salonen’s performances, the Philharmonia’s other titled conductors, Christoph von Dohnányi (Honorary Conductor for Life) and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Conductor Laureate) feature throughout the season. The Orchestra is also delighted to welcome distinguished artists including, Lorin Maazel, Yuri Temirkanov, Paavo Järvi, Viktoria Mullova, Hélène Grimaud, Christian Tetzlaff, Piotr Anderszewski, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Nikolai Lugansky. The most talented conductors of the next generation are also represented: Gustavo Dudamel, Andris Nelsons, Jakub Hrůša, Edward Gardner, Tugan Sokhiev, Philippe Jordan and Juraj Valčuha. The Philharmonia is dedicated to fostering and supporting younger artists also; this season sees Philharmonia London season débuts for conductors Nicholas Collon and Pablo Heras-Casado.