Monday, 11 January 2010

Choir of St John's College, Cambridge teams up with Choir and Organ for Young Composer Competition

Thought I would share this new competition launched in January, by new exclusive Chandos artists, St John's College, Cambridge.

An exciting new partnership between the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, and Choir & Organ is set to give young composers the opportunity to work with one of the world's leading choirs.

Throughout 2010 St John’s will specify the theme, forces and length of each of C&O’s New Music commissions. Composers will write in consultation with Andrew Nethsingha, the College’s director of music, and the process will be followed in the magazine's regular features. All the premieres will be given by the choir or the organ scholars at St John’s and will be included in the College’s webcasting programme. Scores will continue to be available online for free download for six months. The sixth composition of the year will be the winning entry in C&O’s Composition Competition 2010 (details to appear shortly on our website).

St John’s College, which celebrates its quincentenary in 2011, has had a chapel choir since the 1670s and daily services have been sung ever since. Today the choir has an international reputation for musical excellence; a rich portfolio of recordings, regular tours in north America, and a weekly webcasting programme ensure that its voice is heard worldwide. Regular commissioning ensures a continuing freshness in repertoire alongside the classics of the English cathedral tradition.

Andrew Nethsingha, Director of Music at St John’s College, comments: ‘We are excited to be collaborating in this project. Choral music has provided so many of the jewels in the crown of British composition during the past millennium. Here at St John’s we are very committed to discovering and encouraging the next generation of successors to Byrd, Purcell, Parry, Harvey etc.’

‘We are also pleased to be making new compositions more widely known through our weekly webcasting project.’

The hottest classical performances for 2010?

Hugh Canning ran a great article in The Sunday Times outlining his top tips for classical concerts this year.

Do you agree?

Maybe you've got your sights firmly set on tickets for other events in which case please share your plans for going out!

Daniel Barenboim’s Beethoven/Schoenberg

Buoyed by the sellout success of his Beethoven Symphonies cycle with his Berlin Staatskapelle, and his sensational traversal of the 32 solo sonatas, Daniel Barenboim is adding a more challenging ingredient to his Staatskapelle’s programmes with the five piano concertos. Juxtaposed with the early 19th century’s most influential and original composer are masterworks by his 20th-century counterpart, Arnold Schoenberg. Birmingham also gets to hear the most accessible of the four programmes. RFH, SE1, Jan 29 and 31, Feb 1 and 2; Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Jan 30

Bryn Terfel’s Mastersinger

The Welsh bass-baritone’s long-awaited — and several times postponed — debut as the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs in Wagner’s epic comedy The Mastersingers of Nuremberg will be the hottest opera ticket outside London this year. Richard Jones stages Welsh National Opera’s first production of the opera, conducted by its music director, Lothar Koenigs. Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, June 19, 23, 26 and 29; Hippodrome, Birmingham, July 6 and 10

Elgar Concerto Centenary

One hundred years to the day after its first performance — November 10, 1910 — Elgar’s Violin Concerto is the climax of a programme conducted by our leading Elgarian, Colin Davis, with the orchestra that gave the world premiere, the LSO. The outstanding young Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider is the latest non-Brit to take up Elgar’s great late-Romantic masterpiece. Barbican, EC2, Nov 10

Divas and Divos, Royal Opera

June and July — the end of the season — has become a star-studded time at Covent Garden. This year, Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez start the ball rolling in May with a reprise of their acclaimed double act in Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment. Then come Placido Domingo and Angela Gheorghiu in respective revivals of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and La traviata, and finally a new Manon (Massenet), expressly staged for Anna Netrebko. ROH, WC2, May-July

Chopin’s Birthday

Two pianists tackle the lion’s share of Chopin’s works in London to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth on March 1: Artur Pizarro performs all of his solo works throughout the year at St John’s, Smith Square, SW1; while Martino Tirimo heads up Chopin Unwrapped, a series of weeks at Kings Place, N1, in which the complete oeuvre — concertos, chamber works and songs — will be heard. Two concerts at the RFH, SE1, feature two of the great Chopin pianists: Krystian Zimerman (Feb 22) and Maurizio Pollini (Mar 1).

Michael Grandage’s Billy Budd

The acclaimed theatre director makes his operatic debut with the opening production of this summer’s Glyndebourne: the festival’s first staging of Britten’s Melville-based nautical tragedy. Mark Elder conducts the LPO and the cast is led by the young South African baritone Jacques Imbrailo, singing the role of the doomed foretopman. Glyndebourne, May 20-June 27

Mahler in the Northwest

Manchester’s three orchestras — Hallé, BBC Phil and Camerata — present a complete cycle of Mahler’s symphonies. Mark Elder conducts a combined Hallé and BBC Phil, with massed Manchester and Birmingham choristers, for the Eighth — the Symphony of a Thousand — on May 2. Not to be outdone, Vasily Petrenko’s Royal Liverpool begins a two-year survey of Mahler’s symphonies and song cycles. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Jan 16-June 5. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, Jan 16-Nov 7

Alden’s Janacek

David Alden’s Peter Grimes was the operatic hit of 2009, and he will be hoping to repeat this success with his production of Janacek’s domestic tragedy Katya Kabanova, based on Ostrovsky’s play The Storm — a tale of adultery and hypocrisy in rural Russia. The American soprano Patricia Racette sings the title role, with Stuart Skelton (who was Alden’s Grimes) as her feckless lover. ENO, Coliseum, WC2, Mar 15-27

Schumann’s Birthday

Robert Schumann is one of Wigmore Hall’s “house gods”, so it is hardly surprising that his 200th birthday — on June 8 — provides the excuse for an autumn focus on his piano trios (Florestan Trio), string quartets (Elias, Vogler and Doric Quartets) and songs (Angelika Kirchschlager, Soile Isokoski and Gerald Finley). Wigmore Hall, W1, Sept 11-Dec 14

Danielle De Niese’s Semele

After enchanting the world with her all-singing-dancing-and-pouting portrayal of Handel’s Cleopatra at Glyndebourne, the glamorous American adds another entrancing sex kitten to her gallery of Handel heroines: Semele, the original gold-digging dumb blonde. This concert performance, from a stage production in Paris, is conducted by Christophe Rousset. Barbican, EC2, July 8

Fascinating BBC Philharmonic due to launch this month

I've just picked up on a project which is taking place in Manchester this month, performed by Chandos exclusive artists, BBC Philharmonic.

Some of today's best composers including Edward Gregson, Anthony Payne and David Matthews have been asked to write pieces to be paired with each Mahler symphony in the Manchester celebration. Read the full article in the Guardian, where each of the composers consider what Mahler means to them today.

Guardian post in full