Thursday 5 Mar 2020, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London

Philharmonia Box Office : 020 7921 3907

Sir George Benjamin conductor

Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano

James Hall countertenor

Philharmonia Voices (Ladies) choir

Oliver Knussen Choral

Messiaen Le merle bleu from Catalogue d'oiseaux for solo piano

Benjamin Duet for piano and orchestra


Benjamin Dream of the Song

Janáček Sinfonietta


One of Britain’s greatest living composers leads the Philharmonia Orchestra from the podium in an all-star performance to mark his 60th birthday.

In Dream of the Song, Benjamin looks to the vivid world of Andalusian poetry. He pairs Arabic-inspired medieval poems with those of Federico García Lorca, creating a subtle sound-world of gentle choir murmurs and orchestral colours backing the solo voice. In his words, ‘The poetry I chose abounds in imagery of stars and moonlight, and I wanted to try to capture a silvery tone for the whole piece.’

Janáček’s Sinfonietta completed the programme at the premiere of Dream of the Song in 2015 - the two works complement each other perfectly. Janáček spins the opening fanfare into new colours and melodies, exploring fascinating harmonies in 20 thrilling minutes of music. The piece ends in triumph when the fanfare returns in a glorious version for full orchestra.

In the first half, an atmospheric early work by Benjamin’s friend Oliver Knussen sets the scene for Messiaen’s interpretation of the song of the blue rock thrush, and Benjamin’s intricate Duet for Piano and Orchestra. The Duet was written for tonight’s soloist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, a revered performer of 20th- and 21st-century music.



  • Prices: £45 (premium); £36; £28; £19; £12
  • Discounts: Subscription discounts available; under-18s and concessions discounts available; £8 tickets for students via Student Pulse one month before the concert (limited availability)
  • Running time: 115 minutes, including a 20 minute interval
  • Staging: Surtitles will be displayed
  • Please note: Choir stalls are not on sale
  • Before the concert: FREE Music of Today concert, 6pm, Royal Festival Hall

This concert is part of the Philharmonia at 75 series