WHAT does 2017 hold for the classical music fan? Plenty, to be sure, and today I’m picking out just a few of the highlights of the first part of the year.
At the Hallé, Sir Mark Elder leads an Elgar festival at the Bridgewater Hall (March 9, 11 and 12). It features the first symphony, a ‘Beyond the Score’ focus on the Enigma Variations, and the oratorio The Dream Of Gerontius with the Hallé Choir and a great trio of soloists: David Butt Philip, Sasha Cooke and Iain Paterson.
Then, in a special event to celebrate his 70th birthday on June 2 (a date he shares with Elgar), Sir Mark will be conducting Schoenberg’s huge choral and vocal work, Gurrelieder. The Hallé and BBC Philharmonic join forces, and soloists include Alice Coote and Johan Reuter, with Sir Thomas Allen as the speaker – on June 4.
The BBC Philharmonic present Bach’s St Matthew Passion on April 14, plus visits from conductors Vassily Sinaisky (April 23) and the exciting young American, James Feddeck (April 1 – he also conducts the Hallé in the May ‘Opus One’ concert).
Opera North’s visit to The Lowry brings three operas based on fairytales – Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel And Gretel; a light-hearted version of Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) … and, in a rare staging, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden. Hansel And Gretel is on March 8 and 11 (plus a schools matinee on March 9), La Cenerentola on March 9 plus a matinee on March 11, and The Snow Maiden on March 10.
There’s also opera from the Royal Northern College of Music: Handel’s Theodora, performed from March 24.
Our other world-famous centre of musical education, Chetham’s School of Music, is to open its new £8.7m Stoller Hall with a weekend of special events from April 21 to 23. The gala concert on April 23 is conducted by Stephen Threlfall and Sir Mark Elder, with two orchestras, mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately (daughter of Kevin ‘Lewis’ Whately) and international piano virtuoso Paul Lewis, both of whom trained at Chet’s. A series of starry concerts follows.
Paul Lewis is also appearing in recital at the Bridgewater Hall on February 12 – one of the international series events there, which also include top orchestras the St Petersburg Philharmonic (January 27), Vienna Tonkünstler (February 24), Kremerata Baltica (March 24), and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (with the complete Brandenburg Concerti on May 11).