The Hallé’s season plans for 2013/14 at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester include a major switch in scheduling for its most popular series: the ‘Opus One’ concerts.
Traditionally nine concerts at monthly intervals, each given three times over on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, the series is to have all its Wednesday slots as 2.15pm matinées from September. Last season, four Opus One Thursday concerts were given in the afternoon as well as the evening, as an experiment which would ‘help us evaluate our audience’s response’, the Hallé said.
This time Wednesday evenings are gone completely, with the announcement saying the new timing will ‘give many more people the chance to hear our music and allow us to welcome back those who prefer to travel in the afternoons’. It also pointed out that the concerts should finish before the rush-hour, ‘so you can be home in time for dinner’.
The season plan also includes 12 Thursday series concerts, three weekend choral ‘Collection’ concerts, two Sunday afternoons involving the Hallé youth ensembles, and eight Pops, five conducted by Stephen Bell and two by Carl Davis. Artistic stand-outs include a marathon Verdi-Boito opera celebration under Sir Mark Elder on Sunday 24 November. Act I of Simon Boccanegra, Act II Scene I of Falstaff and Act III of Otello will be given in full.
The Hallé’s exploration of unusual Britten is completed with the world première on 3 October of Britain To America ‒ music composed in 1942 for NBC, and other world premières include Ryan Wigglesworth’s revised violin concerto (conducted by the composer on 13 February) and John Casken’s oboe concerto (played by Stéphane Rancourt with Sir Mark, 10 April).
A collaboration from January to March between the three Manchester orchestras (Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata) is themed on Richard Strauss and his songs ‒ ‘Strauss’s Voice’. The Hallé contributes three programmes (five concerts), the BBC Philharmonic four, and Camerata one, and on Thursday 23 January Hallé and BBC Philharmonic join forces for a programme including Strauss’s Alpine Symphony (conductor Juanjo Mena).