NCH International Concert Series: daring, vibrant and served with emotion
The new NCH International Concert Series for 2018 and 2019 is an exhilarating combination of orchestral, chamber, choral and recital music
Over the years, the NCH International Concert Series has become known for its meticulously curated selection of world-class music. Proudly continuing the trend, the programme for the 2018/19 ICS boasts an exceptional palette of tones ranging from the Gidon Kremer’s emotive After Schubert programme to the dynamism of the Royal Philharmonic’s visit, featuring Mozart, Elgar and Vaughan Williams.
In the months between this August and June of next year, all audiences are catered for in quite possibly the most diverse concert International Concert Series to date, which includes two NCH debuts (The Cardinall’s Musick and Boston Symphony Chamber Players), a concerto debut (Daniil Trifonov), and the International Concert Series debut of the outstanding Dundalk-born mezzo soprano Tara Erraught.
Opening the series is a performance of pure vibrancy; combining the mastery of one of the world’s great orchestras, the gold dust of a bona fide Hollywood pioneer, and a conductor whose name inspires adoration throughout the world of classical music. On August 29th, the ground-breaking Marin Alsop will conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in their first overseas tour since 2005. The night is made even more significant by the programme – a celebration of Alsop’s old mentor, the magnificent Leonard Bernstein – marking the 100th anniversary of the musical giant’s birth.
Alsop’s regard for her former teacher is towering: “Bernstein elevated musical theatre to a very sophisticated art form and clearly influenced composers like Stephen Sondheim, giving them courage to bridge the ground between it and opera.”
It’s not just his elevation of musical theatre which causes Alsop to reflect proudly, and the NCH audience will be treated to an array of works which showcases what David Drew described as Bernstein’s “highly individual harmonic and contrapuntal invention, and the equally individual interlocking of rhythm metre and texture”.
It begins a 13-performance sea of sound which will delight, challenge and move in equal measure. Comprising acts from both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe, there is an abundance of excitement for both the ardent classical music lover, and the adventurous newcomer alike.
Fortune Magazine left only a sliver of ambiguity when it declared that the Emerson String Quartet was "arguably the world’s best group of chamber musicians." Each individual year in this ensemble’s history possesses its very own marker of excellence, made more impressive by the quartet’s recently having passed the 40-year mark. After more than 30 acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America’s "Ensemble of the Year" and countless unforgettable collaborations, the Emerson Quartet still manages to chart new territory and dazzle new audiences.
As the last leaves fall in Dublin, the New York masters bring the energy of Mozart, Shostakovitch and Dvořák on November 6th. “The Emerson brought the requisite virtuosity to every phrase. But this music is equally demanding emotionally and intellectually, and the group’s powers of concentration and sustained intensity were at least as impressive," says The New York Times.
From these shores, fresh from being awarded the 2017 NCH Lifetime Achievement Award, the great John O’Conor will be joined by Tara Erraught - one of Ireland’s most gifted voices. Erraught comes to the NCH “at the height of her powers” according to Bachtrack.com, following a run of performances that has seen yet another soaring of an already giant international reputation. The Munich-based mezzo-soprano comes to Dublin off the back of a seemingly endless series of successes which included a glorious debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera. At the NCH, O’Conor and Erraught bring a programme of Strauss, Mahler and Rossini on Friday 26th April.
The final concert in the series sees a return of the formidable London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) on Friday, June 14th. Following the sheer might of its performance of Mahler’s 9th Symphony earlier this year, the LSO brings a very different programme to the upcoming series with trumpeter Philip Cobb and Antoine Tamestit (viola) carrying out solo duties.
Returning audience members from the 2017 – 18 International Concert Series will be thrilled by the prospect of the young Russian piano star Daniil Trifonov returning to the NCH to make his concerto debut. One of the most exciting prospects in classical music today, Trifonov’s programme of Chopin and Chopin-inspired works in December 2017 was captivating in the extreme.
Another orchestral highlight in the series sees the return of renowned pianist Sir András Schiff after a gap of nearly eight years to perform with the renowned and innovative Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Another returning act is Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer - "the world’s reigning male chorus " (New Yorker) - who visit NCH on Sunday 20th January 2019.
Pianists Paul Lewis (Wednesday February 6th, 2019) and Marc-André Hamelin (Thursday May 9th, 2019) both bring exciting and daring programmes spanning from Beethoven, Haydn and Brahms (Lewis) through to Hamelin’s take the French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet as well as works by Italian composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Chopin, Fauré and Schumann.
The Series also proudly welcomes the Valentine’s Day return of Danish virtuoso violinist Nikolaj Znaider accompanied by acclaimed American pianist Robert Kulek (Thursday February 14th, 2019). Znaider is a previous prize-winner of the Sibelius Violin Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Competition and he will perform a beautiful programme of sonatas and preludes by Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich and Prokofiev.
The NCH International Concert Series begins August 29th with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with an all-Bernstein programme. Tickets for all concerts, and ‘choose your own’ concert packages with significant discounts are available on www.nch.ie. Experience the magic. Love the music.