The BBCSSO continues its exploration of cutting edge contemporary music together with performances of much-loved classics in its 2014/15 season. ‘Discovery’ is one of the main themes throughout with audiences having the opportunity to hear some less familiar works, such as Wilhelm Stenhammar’s first symphony, alongside more familiar names. The popular Thursday night series includes a complete cycle of James MacMillan’s piano concertos by Peter Donohoe, performances of Magnus Lindberg’s violin concerto and a new BBC commission from 25-year-old composer Mark Simpson.
Once again, the Glasgow series provides the back-bone to the season with three Shostakovitch symphonies ‒ nos 5, 10 and 15 ‒ and a homage to Shakespeare in music to mark the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth.
It is also a season of celebrations with a special 60th birthday concert for chief conductor Donald Runnicles on the day itself, 16 November. He says the opportunity to conduct Beethoven’s ninth symphony featuring world-class soloists and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus at the Usher Hall is ‘arguably the finest present a conductor could ask for’.
Runnicles will also get a chance to flex his operatic muscles in a semi-staged performance of Berg’s Wozzeck with an international cast featuring Roman Trekel and Elena Zhidkova. He promises ‘a gripping tale told through passionate, visceral music and an unforgettable experience for performers and audiences alike’.
Ilan Volkov, principal guest conductor, will curate a concert of new Icelandic voices for Radio 3’s Hear and Now while other contemporary series include a retrospective of Hans Abrahamsen’s music in January 2015, a two-day celebration of Elliott Carter in May and a concert to mark Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday with Matthias Pintscher, the orchestra’s artist-in-association. To mark 100 years of Charlie Chaplin’s famous film character the Little Tramp, the BBCSSO will present a concert screening of Modern Times conducted by Timothy Brock.
Guest artists this season include violinists Alina Pogostkina and Pekka Kuusisto, pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Javier Perianes, Barry Douglas and Steven Osborne ‒ who completes his Beethoven piano concerto cycle with the orchestra in March 2015 ‒ along with returning conductors Martyn Brabbins, Thomas Dausgaard and Mark Wigglesworth with debuts from Richard Farnes and Carlos Miguel Prieto.
It is a busy year ahead for the BBCSSO as it celebrates Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, takes up a residency at Orkney’s St Magnus Festival and accompanies the finalists of the BBC Young Musician 2014 in Edinburgh in May.