All events Concert

George Benjamin: A Duet and a Dream

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George Benjamin


Sir George Benjamin – conductor

Pierre-Laurent Aimard – piano

James Hall – countertenor

Philharmonia Voices (Ladies)


Oliver Knussen Choral

Messiaen Le merle bleu from Catalogue d’oiseaux for solo piano

Arthur Benjamin Duet for piano and orchestra

— Interval —

Arthur Benjamin Dream of the Song

Janáček Sinfonietta

One of Britain’s greatest living composers leads the Philharmonia Orchestra from the podium in an all-star performance to mark his 60th birthday.

In Dream of the Song, Benjamin looks to the vivid world of Andalusian poetry. He pairs Arabic-inspired medieval poems with those of Federico García Lorca, creating a subtle sound-world of gentle choir murmurs and orchestral colours backing the solo voice. In his words, ‘The poetry I chose abounds in imagery of stars and moonlight, and I wanted to try to capture a silvery tone for the whole piece.’

Janáček’s Sinfonietta completed the programme at the premiere of Dream of the Song in 2015 – the two works complement each other perfectly. Janáček spins the opening fanfare into new colours and melodies, exploring fascinating harmonies in 20 thrilling minutes of music. The piece ends in triumph when the fanfare returns in a glorious version for full orchestra.

In the first half, an atmospheric early work by Benjamin’s friend Oliver Knussen sets the scene for Messiaen’s interpretation of the song of the blue rock thrush, and Benjamin’s intricate Duet for Piano and Orchestra. The Duet was written for tonight’s soloist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, a revered performer of 20th- and 21st-century music.

Need to know

Prices & Discounts

£12 – £58 (premium)

Subscription discounts available; under-18s and concessions discounts available; £8 tickets for students via Student Pulse one month before the concert (limited availability)

Running Time

1 hour 55 minutes, including 20 minute interval

Recommended age

From 7+

Programme notes

Read programme notes

Box office

Philharmonia Box Office: 0800 652 6717


Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

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Before the concert

London season illustration

Part of 2019/20 London Season

Esa-Pekka Salonen on stage conducting at the Proms

Part of Philharmonia at 75 Series

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