THE International Concert Series returns to Cardiff’s St David’s Hall with 15 powerful performances from Prague to Reykjavik.
Catering for classical, choral and contemporary tastes, this year’s programme features visiting orchestras from across Europe and the best of British too. Plus, there’s a top-class line-up of today’s most distinguished soloists including pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet; cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, violinist Nicola Benedetti, guitarist Craig Ogden and horn player Benjamin Goldscheider.
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
feat. Peter Donohoe (Piano)
Wednesday 9 October 2019, 7.30pm
The 2019/20 season starts in style with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (Weds 9 Oct) under the baton of Yuri Simonov. This captivating concert juxtaposes the Slavic passion and intoxicating energy of Khachaturian with enchanting excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. There’s also Rachmaninov’s rarely heard but resonant Fourth Piano Concerto featuring the acclaimed Peter Donohoe, who was the silver medallist at Moscow’s 1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Welsh National Opera Orchestra
feat. Daniel Müller-Schott (Cello)
Sunday 27 October 2019, 3pm
A couple of weeks later, the Welsh National Opera Orchestra (Sun 27 Oct) evoke the swirling sea currents of Debussy’s symphonic masterpiece La Mer before Daniel Müller-Schott joins them for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, which wistfully pays tribute to the composer’s lost love Josefina.
Prague Symphony Orchestra
Feat. Ester Pavlů (Mezzo-Soprano)
Friday 8 November 2019, 7.30pm
The following month sees a visit from the Prague Symphony Orchestra (Fri 8 Nov) as Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choir and the Cardiff and Swansea Bach Choirs join forces for Mahler’s epic Symphony No 3. As the last great Romantic symphonist, Mahler’s music is conceived on the grandest scale, and sensational mezzo-soprano Ester Pavlů can more than fulfil its ambitious scale.
feat. Sayaka Shoji (Violin)
Wednesday 27 November 2019, 7.30pm
ICS regulars, the Philharmonia Orchestra (Weds 27 Nov) return with a rousing repertoire of Brahms and Sibelius. Soloist for Brahms’ Violin Concerto is the virtuoso Sayaka Shoji, who ascends the peaks of a work that is bathed in Alpine sunlight. Plus, legendary conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy is a world-renowned Sibelius interpreter, so brace yourself for the explosive energy of the ever-popular Second Symphony.
feat. Craig Ogden (Guitar)
Tuesday 3 December 2019, 7.30pm
Then there’s a veritable feast from Manchester Camerata (Tues 3 Dec) of musical gems spanning over three centuries of guitar tradition combining vintage Spanish and Italian repertoire with contemporary classics and outstanding arrangements. Australian guitarist Craig Ogden plays adventurous, eclectic and vibrant tunes with highlights including Arvo Pärt, Ludovico Einaudi and The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun.
The Sixteen feat. Harry Christophers CBE (Conductor)
Sunday 15 December 2019, 3pm
Choral ensemble The Sixteen (Sun 15 Dec) return with a selection box of songs that are certain to get you into the Christmas spirit. Crowning this year’s seasonal programme is Benjamin Britten’s inspirational carol anthology conducted by the masterful, Harry Christophers CBE.
WNO Orchestra & BBC NOW
The 1808 Concert
Sunday 4 January 2020, 4pm
The New Year starts with a bang as the Welsh National Opera Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Sun 4 Jan) deliver consecutive concerts as part of a city-wide celebration marking 250 years since Beethoven’s birth. This unmissable performance reconstructs his historic Benefit Concert in Vienna in December 1808. Over the course of four hours on a freezing night at the Theatre an der Wien, all but his dramatic aria Ah Perfido received first performances. This wonderful retrospective featuring conductors Carlo Rizzi and Jaime Martin with soloists Steven Osborne, Alwyn Mellor and Llŷr Williams will be an event to remember.
European Union Chamber Orchestra
feat. Eva Stegeman (Conductor)
Thursday 30 January 2020, 7.30pm
At the end of the month, there’s revered multi-national European Union Chamber Orchestra (Thurs 30 Jan) for a beautiful mix of Classical elegance and Romantic sensibility. Framed between Holst’s exhilarating St Paul’s Suite for strings, and Haydn’s intensely dark 49th ‘La Passione’ Symphony is Mozart’s Rondo for Horn featuring 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist, Benjamin Goldscheider.
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Feat. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Piano
Thursday 13 February 2020, 7.30pm
Then there’s the much-anticipated Welsh debut of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Thurs 13 Feb) as the young Reyjavik players bring Bizet and Ravel to the Hall before Prokofiev’s vivid portrait of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet.
Armonico Consort & Baroque Orchestra
feat. Elin Manahan Thomas (Soprano)
Friday 6 March 2020, 7.30pm
Welsh soprano, Elin Manahan Thomas shares the stage with Armonico Consort & Baroque Orchestra (Fri 6 March) for Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Composed over the final 25 years of his life and completed shortly before he died, Bach considered the Mass to be his best work. Never performed complete in his lifetime, the work is in effect Bach’s own self-obituary, and how he wanted to be remembered by the world.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
feat. Tamsin Little (Violin)
Friday 13 March 2020, 7.30pm
A week later, a brilliant blend of colourful drama, infectious charm and titanic strength are built into a sumptuously Romantic programme from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Fri 13 March). Brahms’ First Symphony wrestles with the whole weight of musical history and ends with one of the most sublime closing movements of any symphony. Strong rhythms also initiate Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, a melodically-rich work enclosing a beautifully eloquent slow movement – be sure to catch Tasmin Little before her retirement!
feat. Pablo Heras-Casado
Friday 3 April 2020, 7.30pm
The Philharmonia Orchestra (Fri 3 April) open with Rimsky-Korsakov’s ode to Spain in Capriccio Espagnol, which is a barnstorming score closing with a sizzling fandango. Flamboyance and grandeur continue in Liszt’s First Piano Concerto featuring the young Russian, Daniel Kharitonov before closing with Stravinsky’s gorgeous orchestral showpiece The Firebird.
Welsh National Opera Orchestra
Feat. David Adams (Violin)
Sunday 26 April 2020, 3pm
Conductor Tomáš Hanus and the Welsh National Opera Orchestra (Sun 26 April) return with Dvořák’s dramatic Othello Overture perfectly capturing Shakespeare’s tragic tale of love, jealousy and betrayal. A centrepiece of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto brings soaring lyricism, whilst the concert closes with the towering structure that is Tchaikovsky’s angst-ridden Fourth Symphony.
feat. Nicola Benedetti CBE
Monday 18 May 2020, 7.30pm
Beethoven re-wrote the symphonic rulebook for all time with his awe-inspiring ‘Eroica’ Symphony, and the Aurora Orchestra (Mon 18 May) tackle this work of unprecedented scale. Plus, the wonderful Nicola Benedetti CBE performs Mendelssohn’s evergreen Violin Concerto, which is work brimming with extraordinary originality and magnificent tunes.
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
feat. Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Cello)
Saturday 6 June 2020, 7.30pm
The 2019/20 International Concert Series comes to a close with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Sat 6 June). Hailed by The Telegraph as “technically superb and eloquent in his expressivity”, Sheku Kanneh-Mason is sure to beguile you with his artistry in Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No 1. This enticing Franco-Russian programme also includes the kaleidoscopic colours of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
For more information, please visit www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk or call the Box Office on 029 2087 8444.
PLEASE NOTE: Although The Sixteen (Sun 15 Dec) is part of the International Concert Series, it does not form part of any ICS subscription packages.
ICS: EXTRAS: One hour before each of our ICS performances, St David’s Hall holds a 30-minute insight into the music and context to the concert. These popular events are accessible and informative and a great way to get more from your ICS experience. Plus, don’t miss Dr Jonathan James’ fascinating Classical Road Maps presentations on Friday 31 October 2019 and Thursday 12 March 2020 in Lefel 1 at 6pm. These are FREE ticketed events.