Philharmonia Orchestra announces second half of 2023/24 London season

The Philharmonia Orchestra announces the second half of its season as Resident Orchestra at London’s Southbank Centre. The Orchestra will be joined in the Royal Festival Hall by Featured Artists Julia Bullock and Nicola Benedetti, alongside soloists Bruce Liu, Isabelle Faust, Alexandre Kantorow and more.

To open the second half of the season, Santtu-Matias Rouvali will conduct singer Julia Bullock, one of the Philharmonia’s Featured Artists, taking on life’s big topics – love, death, nature, heaven – in a Romantic pairing of Berlioz and Mahler (1 February).

Julia Bullock brings her mixed-media project History’s Persistent Voice to London on 2 February, shining a light on the words, work and experiences of Black American artists. Bullock commissioned the songs in the project from leading Black women composers. Jessie Montgomery reimagines songs from an anthology collected just after the American Civil War, recording the music of singers who had only recently gained their freedom. Allison Loggins-Hull’s setting is a bluesy lullaby, and Tania León’s work reflects on the impact of poverty and discrimination. In each city that hosts History’s Persistent Voice, a local composer is commissioned to add their voice to the project. In London you can be the first to hear a brand new work by Mercury-nominated saxophonist, bandleader and composer Cassie Kinoshi. Conducted by Christian Reif, the songs are accompanied by video installations designed by visual artist Hana S. Kim, and interspersed with readings from Black American writers past and present.

Later that week Santtu-Matias Rouvali returns to conduct an epic double-bill of Strauss and Shostakovich featuring violinist Vadim Gluzman as the soloist (4 February). The Philharmonia has a long association with composer Richard Strauss – he conducted the Orchestra back in 1947. Both the players and their Principal Conductor have a real affinity for his music.

Elim Chan will conduct the UK premiere of Bryce Dessner’s new Piano Concerto written for Alice Sara Ott (15 February). Dessner defies categorisation, with Grammy awards for both classical composition and an album with his band The National, and several acclaimed film scores to his name. A Dessner premiere is a major event in London’s musical calendar, as is any performance by Alice Sara Ott – a collaboration between these two powerhouses of creativity will be an evening to remember. 

Santtu returns in March to conduct Frank Dupree in a colourful programme including Nikolai Kapustin’s jazz-infused Piano Concerto No. 5 (7 March).

Nicola Benedetti returns on 14 March for her third performance as the Philharmonia’s Featured Artist, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado in Bruch’s rhapsodic Scottish Fantasy, a homage to her homeland. One of Bruch’s best-loved pieces, the Fantasy is concerto-like in scale, with each of its three movements based on a different Scottish folksong.

Brothers Lucas Jussen and Arthur Jussen join the Philharmonia for Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365, conducted by Eun Sun Kim. Her concert also features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and Texu Kim’s (no relation) Spin-Flip, based on the sounds of a table tennis match (21 March).

On 24 March, Jakub Hrůša and the Philharmonia Orchestra paint vivid musical pictures, joined by eminent British cellist Steven Isserlis for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

Bruce Liu joins the Philharmonia and their Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali in one of the all-time great piano concertos on 7 March: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, as well as another twentieth-century masterpiece, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10.

On 28 April, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras will play Schumann’s Cello Concerto, considered one of the great cello works of the Romantic era, as part of a programme including Dvořák’s radiant Symphony No. 6.

Later that day Santtu-Matias Rouvali will conduct Daniil Trifonov in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (2 May). Brahms teasingly described his concerto in a letter to Clara Schumann as ‘a very small piano concerto with a very small and pretty scherzo.’ In fact, it’s a 50-minute masterclass in how to compose for piano and orchestra. Its four movements explore every facet of the piano’s expressive potential, by turns graceful and dramatic, stormy and tender. 

Winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition Grand Prix (a prize awarded only four times in the competition’s six-decade history), Alexandre Kantorow joins the Philharmonia for Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, conducted by Manfred Honeck in his debut with the Orchestra (9 May).

On 11 May the Philharmonia’s Artist in Residence Soumik Datta – virtuoso sarod player, composer, producer, and TV presenter – will collaborate with musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra. Datta is the Philharmonia’s Artist in Residence for the 2023/24 season. During his residency he has been working with a group of Philharmonia players, South Asian and refugee musicians. Their different skills and experiences feed into this evening’s premiere, a captivating fusion of Indian music, contemporary composition and storytelling.

The Philharmonia joins forces with The Bach Choir for The Dream of Gerontius, conducted by David Hill and featuring mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston, tenor Daniel Norman, and baritone Roderick Williams for Elgar’s choral masterpiece. To open the evening, The Bach Choir has commissioned a new work from Roderick Williams. Cusp acts as a prelude to Elgar’s work, considering what it is to wait alongside someone in their final moments (16 May).

On 2 June, hear world premieres by three rising stars in the culminating concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Composers’ Academy: Florence Anna Maunders, Mathis Saunier and Yfat Soul Zisso.

Violinist Isabelle Faust joins her frequent collaborator, conductor Philippe Herreweghe, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (described by Faust as ‘one of the most beautiful and most important works of the violin repertoire’) in a programme also featuring Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 (2 June). Faust and Herreweghe are both known for diving deep into the historical context and authentic interpretation of every piece they perform.

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2023/24 season closes with Elgar’s enduringly popular paean to friendship; Enigma Variations conducted by Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali and featuring cellist Sol Gabetta. Well-known performers of another piece of the programme, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, include Tom and Jerry (in 1946 Oscar-winner The Cat Concerto), Woody Woodpecker and Rowlf the Dog on The Muppet Show. Santtu has chosen it to get the Philharmonia’s season finale off to a rousing start.


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