Leeds International Concert Season, the UK’s largest local authority run concert season, has announced its 2018/19 international orchestral series, featuring some of the finest orchestras from around the world performing against the majestic backdrop of Leeds Town Hall.
The truly international season features twenty concerts from orchestras across Europe, Russia and as far away as Japan, whilst also showcasing favourites from much closer to home.
The opening concert from the BBC Philharmonic (29 September) sees maestro Omer Meir Wellber take to the podium. Wellber has established himself amongst the world’s top-tier conductors of orchestral and operatic music – both these specialities will be on show as he conducts Wagner’s Prelude to Act I from Lohengrin, Sibelius’ Violin Concerto and Brahms’ Symphony No 1.
Travelling the furthest of any other orchestra this season, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra clocks-up over 5,800 miles from its base in Tokyo as it performs with one of classical music’s most sought-after soloists, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (13 April). Recently seen performing at the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and at the BAFTAs, the record-breaking 2016 BBC Young Musician performs Elgar’s Cello Concerto before Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen leads the orchestra through Sibelius’ heart-warming Symphony No 2.
Another BBC Young Musician takes to the stage with the Royal Northern Sinfonia (19 January), Jess Gillam made history as the first saxophonist to win the Woodwind Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016. She has performed to critical acclaim, this year winning the Sound of Classical Award at the Classical Brits – she has also recently been announced as the youngest ever female performer for the Last Night of the Proms and the first ever classical saxophonist to be signed to Decca Records. Performing Villa Lobos’ Fantasia for soprano saxophone, the evening also features works by Debussy, Stravinsky, Milhaud and a new piece penned by the (to be announced) RNS Young Composer Competition winner.
Sibelius’ Symphony No 5 forms the towering climax to a heroic programme from the superb Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra (27 October), one of Austria’s most pioneering ensembles, which visits under Chief Conductor Yutaka Sado. Remarkable Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt also joins the orchestra for Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto (Piano Concerto No 5).
A special concert from The Hallé (12 January) will see the as-yet-unknown prize winner of the 19th Leeds International Piano Competition (to be held in September) join the orchestra for a performance of Bach’s Piano Concerto in D, followed by Shostakovich’s Symphony No 8, both under the baton of Sir Mark Elder.
Then, the critical and popular acclaim that has followed Vasily Petrenko’s work with the Oslo Philharmonic (9 March) since he became its Chief Conductor in 2013 will be on display to Leeds’ audiences. This distinctive collaboration presents a programme featuring Tchaikovsky’s rapturous Fantasy Overture: Romeo and Juliet, Grieg’s exuberant Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov’s powerful first symphony.
Three powerhouse Russian orchestras also make their way to the city as the Russian State Symphony Orchestra performs works by Khachaturian, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov (13 October); the St Petersburg Philharmonic treats audiences to Rachmaninov and Mahler (2 February), and the Russian Philharmonic of Novosibirsk also performs Rachmaninov alongside works by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky (11 May).
The season also includes choral masterpieces – the first of which being the BBC Philharmonic with Leeds Festival Chorus, the City of Glasgow Chorus and the Cantabile Choir performing Britten’s War Requiem (17 November) as part of the city’s remembrance programme. The Orchestra of Opera North with its Youth Chorus, Young Voices, and Children’s Chorus present Will Todd’s Songs of Love and Battle – a newly commissioned piece seeing its second ever performance – and Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (1 December). The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Leeds Philharmonic Chorus present Dvořák’s profound Stabat Mater (16 March) and The Hallé closes the season with Leeds Festival Chorus, Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, and St Peter’s Singers performing Elgar’s angelic masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius (1 June).
Other concerts include the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (6 October), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (24 November), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (9 February), Manchester Camerata (16 February), The Hallé (23 March), Orchestra of Opera North (6 April), and the European Union Chamber Orchestra (27 April).
Tickets are now on sale to existing subscribers, and for new subscribers booking five or more concerts from Monday 16 July. General Sale opens on Saturday 18 August. Book via Leeds City Centre Box Office on 0113 376 0318, online at leedsconcertseason.co.uk or in person at Leeds Town Hall.