21 August 2023

Blockbusters on horizon for Canberra Symphony Orchestra 2024 season

| Ian Bushnell
French horn player

Supporting the CSO’s 2024 season will be a range of international and Australian artists. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) wants to see packed halls in 2024 for its new season showcasing some of the most popular works in the classical music canon.

The CSO will retain its commitment to presenting Australian music as part of its core mission, but it’s pulling out the blockbusters next year. This will include Beethoven’s Ninth (Choral) Symphony, 200 years after its premier in 1824, Mahler’s Fourth and Sibelius’s Second, as well as Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and in two special events, Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Dubbed Earth and Sky, the season embraces nature’s themes. Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Jessica Cottis drew inspiration from composer Gustav Mahler’s awe at the infinite mystery of nature and his view that in every work of art, there must be a “trace of this infinity”.

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In a recorded message from Stockholm at Wednesday’s season launch attended by Governor-General David Hurley, Ms Cottis said she wanted to explore this theme musically from a very human perspective.

“This is the essence of the CSO’s 2024 season,” she said, saying it was packed with dynamic repertoire.

Also programmed for the Llewellyn Series are Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 (Elvira Madigan), his Horn Concerto No. 2, Purcell’s Celestial music did the gods inspire and Haydn’s Symphony No. 31.

Supporting the CSO will be a range of international and Australian artists including pianist Jayson Gilham playing the Elvira Madigan in the third Llewellyn concert Celestial Visions, and Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Andrew Bain in the fourth, Forest Lore, in November.

Two of the Llewellyn concerts, Beethoven’s Ninth in August and Forest Lore, will also include new CSO commissions and world premieres from Australian composers – Miriama Young’s Daughters of Elysium and a yet-to-be-titled work from Christopher Sainsbury.

The first Llewellyn concert of the year in May, Edge of the World, will include Australian composer Nigel Westlake’s Toward Takayna, a concerto for two guitars and will feature the much-loved duo Slava and Leonard Grigoryan.

CSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Jessica Cottis drew inspiration from composer Gustav Mahler’s awe at the infinite mystery of nature. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas.

Two Australian Series concerts featuring the CSO Chamber Ensemble are programmed for May and September, entitled Heart Space and First Light. They will feature a further two CSO commissions and world premieres from Michael Bakrncev and Kate Neal.

Ms Cottis said this groundbreaking series would continue to showcase the huge diversity of Australian music.

“I am so proud of the CSO in this very deep engagement with Australian music,” she said.

The Chamber Ensemble will also feature in four Chamber Classics concerts at what Ms Cottis calls the friendly acoustic of Albert Hall in February (Beethoven Septet), May (Reverie), September (Magic and Miracles) and October (Affinities).

These will feature the works of Beethoven, Grieg, Haydn, Mozart, Dvorak and others.

CSO CEO Rachel Thomas told Region the headline concerts were important for their pulling power but also as platforms for exposing audiences to Australian works.

Ms Thomas said like every other orchestra in the country the CSO was working really hard to get audiences back post-COVID.

She said Ms Cottis was an expert at programming these concerts so Australian music could be included.

“The way that she is able to combine the newer Australian music and the classics makes for a really interesting program we think everyone will be able to enjoy,” she said.

The CSO was also responding to audience demand through its Specials, Messiah in June and Four Seasons in October.

Ms Thomas said CSO had a long-term vision of including more choral works in its repertoire through the development of the chorus it uses, exemplified next year with Messiah and the Ninth.

The CSO was always looking at different formats and time slots to accommodate busy lifestyles such as the Chamber Classics and the Australian Series.

“These concerts are a really great opportunity to feature our musicians in that closer more intimate environment,” Ms Thomas said.

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When launching the season, Ms Thomas acknowledged the many organisations and individuals who support the CSO’s work, namely Creative Australia, artsACT and a diverse network of corporate and community partners, a generous philanthropic community, and of course the dedicated Canberra audiences.

“We can’t wait to welcome both long-term supporters and newcomers to classical music, both young and old, both music aficionados and those exploring cultural experiences for the first time,” she said.

The Governor-General said the CSO was fundamental to Canberra’s DNA.

“You cannot have a capital city of the nation without an orchestra,” he said.

He praised the CSO’s leadership in promoting and producing new Australian music.

“Let that Australian voice express itself in our communities, and beyond,” he said.

For more information and the full list of CSO’s 2024 events, including dates, venues, ticket information and pricing, visit the website.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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