Sydney Symphony Orchestra announces its 2022 season

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The Sydney Symphony Orchestra has announced its 2022 season, the first with Simone Young officially at the helm as conductor, and notable for the orchestra’s return to the refurbished Sydney Opera House in July. The site – which has been closed for modernization since February 2020 – was slated to reopen earlier this year, but delays due to COVID mean reopening celebrations have been pushed back to mid-year.

Simone Young

Conductor Simone Young. Photo © Jay Patel

The statistics on paper are impressive: 21 international artists, including seven guest international conductors, works by 14 Australian composers – more than half of whom are women – including 11 world creations created as part of the ambitious 50 project. Brass bands of the orchestra, and 39 members of the SSO gave solo roles in orchestral or chamber music concerts. There are a few welcome returns, including principal guest conductor Sir Donald Runnicles after an absence due to a pandemic, and former conductor Edo de Waart. Soloists who immediately grab attention include Australians Nicole Car, Emma Matthews and Ray Chen, and international artists James Ehnes, Jean-Efflan Bavouzet, Augustin Hadelich and Hilary Hahn. A treat for opera lovers will be an appearance by South African soprano Elza van den Heever in a Beethoven concert Fidelio.

“It will be my privilege to present to you musicians with whom I have worked throughout my career – artists of unassailable virtuosity with whom you will find an instant and powerful connection,” writes Young in his program note. personal. “Their artistic passion is always evident and inescapable, inspiring great performances from all of us. “

The season will be presented in two parts: an autumn season (March-June) – divided between Sydney Town Hall and City Recital Hall – and a winter / spring season (July-December) which will see the return of the orchestra gala at the concert hall. and includes a must-see as Young leads the mighty Symphony of the Resurrection with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and soloists Car and Michelle DeYoung. This concert will open with a new work of 50 bands by Indigenous composer William Barton.

The other must-see for many will be the opera-in-concert which closes the year in what is billed as an annual event in the future. Young will lead SSO with an impressive lineup of singers: Van den Heever sings resourceful Leonore with New Zealand Heldentenor Simon O’Neill as her husband Florestan alongside Jonathan Lemalu, James Roser, Samantha Clarke, James Clayton and Nick Jones. In an intriguing twist, First Nations writer Tyson Yunkaporta rewrote the original dialogue to bring a unique approach to the story themes of love, selflessness, and the path to enlightenment.

Sir Donald Runnicles

Sir Donald Runnicles, Principal Guest Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

The first half of the season is a little less exciting, the result of a strong emphasis on Austro-German classics with some Russian masterpieces. There are some highlights, however, including the inspiring Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. with Simon Trpčeski as soloist in Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 and Benjamin Northey conducting Rautavaara’s Seventh Symphony (Angel of light) with Rach Two soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk. The baroque music concert by Benjamin Bayl is also worth a visit.

“Relevance is timeless,” writes Young. “Masterpieces are masterpieces because they encompass great themes that speak to us all. And yet, there are a lot of things that seem too familiar here until we return to the concert hall in July.

From then on, things accelerated. After the Mahler, Young herself shakes things up with Tchaikovsky Pathetic paired with superstar violinist Hilary Hahn playing Prokofiev’s first concerto. She also launches a cycle of Beethoven Piano Concerto with soloist Javier Perianes in a concert that includes Brett Dean’s Beethoven-inspired Will, and runs a Brahms German Requiem with soloists Emma Matthews and exceptional baritone Bo Skovhus (the latter also gives a singing recital with Young at the piano). His first stint ends with a collaborative project: a new production by Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s dream conducted by Belvoir’s artistic director, Eamon Flack, with music composed by Mendelssohn.

Among the rest of the season there are many opportunities to see outstanding soloists in works by Old Masters – Ray Chen playing Mendelssohn, Augustin Hadelich (a fabulous foreign talent) playing Brahms, James Ehnes playing Beethoven and the Cello Concerto. by Dvořák played by Daniel Müller -Schott – but there are some real highlights, including the two Runnicles concerts. Its second release associates Brahms d’Hadelich with Bruckner’s Third Symphony – a specialty of Runnicles – while the first includes that of Debussy. The sea, Copland’s Clarinet Concerto (with British clarinetist James Burke) and Vaughan Williams’ sublime Fifth Symphony.

Other highlights include Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s solo French piano music recital (a top-notch recommendation), an eclectic solo recital by pianist Yeol Eum Son that incorporates rarities from Arvo Pärt, Alkan and jazzy variations of the late Nikolai Kapustin and British maestro James Judd lead The planets with SSO first violin Andrew Haveron the soloist of Britten’s Violin Concerto.

50 brass band composers

Sydney Symphony Orchestra 50 band composers. Photo © Jay Patel

Refreshingly, contemporary music features to some extent in nearly every concert this season with new works as part of the 50 Fanfares program by Jessica Wells, Deborah Cheetham, Catherine Milliken, Melody Eötvös, Andrew Howes, Joseph Twist, Elena Kats-Chernin, Chloé Charody, Holly Harrison, Timothy Constable and Paul Stanhope. Maria Grenfell’s first SSO performance Watchmaker (a piece from 1991 with a fugitive structure intended to showcase the different sections of the strings of the orchestra) should be interesting, as should Control, a new work by American composer Nico Muhly associated with that of Max Richter Recomposed, his popular interpretation of Vivaldi Four Seasons.

Recent experience has made us wary of what may or may not happen when it comes to lineup, but this season seems both likely and something like the start of a return to the new normal. We also feel a little safe. As the world reopens next year and the SSO moves into its new home, it will be interesting to see what a little more daring could bring to Sydney in 2023.


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