APO announces 2020 season of celebration

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) will kick off its 2020 season on a festive note as it celebrates its 40th birthday year. Details of the orchestra’s 2020 season programme were unveiled at a launch event at Auckland Town Hall on Thursday 19 September.

“We are honoured to have been a part of the rich history of our wonderful city for the past 40 years,” says APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser. “As we enter our 40th season, we remain committed to continue serving the city of Auckland and sharing the joy of music through world-class orchestral performances and our education and outreach programme APO Connecting.”

APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi says the 2020 season is filled with music to delight and excite, to uplift and inspire in celebration of the orchestra’s 40th anniversary year: “Concertgoers can expect a wonderfully varied programme ranging from classics by their favourite composers to new and exciting works by contemporary international and New Zealand composers. We look forward to sharing another season of joyous music and passionate performances with audiences.”

While the APO will mark this momentous milestone with a special 40th birthday concert featuring some of audiences’ favourite and most frequently performed music in September 2020, the orchestra will also be celebrating many other significant occasions throughout the season.

An important event on the orchestral calendar next year is Beethoven’s 250th birthday, with orchestras around the world set to celebrate the great composer’s life and music throughout 2020. The APO will join in the global festivities with Beethoven 250 presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival and Auckland Live in March.

Beethoven 250 will kick off with a community Big Play-In with musicians of all ages and skill levels before the orchestra performs Beethoven’s symphony cycle, which culminates in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony featuring the talents of New Zealand singers including soprano Madeleine Pierard, mezzo-soprano Kristin Darragh, tenor Amitai Pati and bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes. In between the symphony concerts, Beethoven fans can attend a special chamber concert and speaker series, Ludwig Reflected.

In July, the orchestra honours esteemed Kiwi pianist Michael Houstoun, who joins the APO to perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 before he retires in December 2020. Houstoun has performed with the orchestra many times since its inception in 1980 and the APO is privileged to share the stage with him during his last year performing.

During the year the orchestra will perform a range of wonderful music by New Zealand composers, including the world premiere of Ross Harris’ Symphony No.7, Gillian Whitehead’s Resurgences and a new work by Leonie Holmes. As part of Beethoven 250, the orchestra will also perform new works by Gillian Whitehead, Chris Gendall, and Celeste Oram and Alex Taylor commissioned by APO especially for the festival.

Three of the APO’s own musicians come to the fore as the orchestra celebrates the phenomenal talent within the orchestra. In March, APO Principal Flute Melanie Lançon and Principal Harp Ingrid Bauer join forces to perform Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp. Principal Oboe Bede Hanley takes the stage in October to perform the world premiere of Canadian composer Gary Kulesha’s Oboe Concerto, composed especially for Hanley.

The New Zealand Herald Premier Series returns with a line-up of familiar favourites bold masterworks and eclectic contemporary and new works performed alongside internationally acclaimed soloists and conductors.

Highlights of the 2020 series include: the Australasian premiere of a co-commission by the APO, Berlin Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Tokyo), NTR ZaterdagMatinee (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam) and the Seattle Symphony composed by Hans Abrahamsen and performed by Berlin Philharmonic’s Principal Horn Stefan Dohr; and Mahler’s massive Sixth Symphony conducted by Antony Hermus.

APO continues its commitment to bringing a diverse line-up of the world’s top artists to the Auckland stage. Some of the renowned artists performing as part of The New Zealand Herald Premier Series in 2020 include Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen, Chinese classical guitarist Xuefei Yang and Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai. Internationally-acclaimed conductors featured in the series include Yu Long, Anja Bihlmaier and Alpesh Chauhan.

APO’s beloved Great Classics kicks off the 2020 season with a Russian-inspired programme including Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a fitting opening to the orchestra’s 40th anniversary year, and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 performed by APO newcomer Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu.

Specialist Baroque conductor Stephen Layton returns to lead the orchestra for a programme including Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and Fauré’s Requiem in April. In July, the orchestra takes on Haydn’s mighty The Creation conducted by APO Music Director Giordano Bellincampi, which coincides with the World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland. Audiences will be delighted by the return of conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, who conducts a programme featuring R. Strauss’ Wind Serenade, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

The Trusts Community Foundation Opera in Concert for 2020 is Britten’s gritty small-town tale, Peter Grimes – a masterwork of mid-20th century opera. Conducted by Tobias Ringborg, the orchestra will tell the tale of Britten’s persecuted fisherman alongside a cast including tenor Toby Spence (UK) as Peter Grimes and soprano Emma Bell (UK) as the widow Ellen Orford, and talented New Zealand singers Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Swallow, Jud Arthur as Hobson and Amelia Berry and Natasha Wilson as the Nieces.

Conductor and presenter Graham Abbott returns to take audiences ‘behind the scenes’ of some of the world’s greatest classical works for the orchestra’s popular Metlifecare Unwrap the Music series. In 2020 he’ll unwrap music from Rossini’s opera William Tell, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes (from Peter Grimes) and Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony.

APO will head out to communities across Auckland for its four-concert chamber music series, In Your Neighbourhood. In 2020, the series brings APO’s musicians to Titirangi, St Heliers, Howick, Remuera and Takapuna and returns to Waiheke Island for a special performance with Berlin Philharmonic’s Principal Horn Stefan Dohr and an ensemble of APO musicians.

Following the sell-out success of this year’s Planet Earth II Live in Concert, BBC Studios, APO and Auckland Live are thrilled to present Blue Planet II Live in Concert in July. Featuring the breath-taking visuals from the multi-award winning BBC television series with the original music score by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming performed live by the APO. This concert is proudly sponsored by Meridian Energy.

In September the orchestra joins in the shenanigans of Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels, presented by Bayleys. This interactive, family concert experience features specially created animations, alongside live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the APO and presenter Matthew Sharp. This unique concert will be followed by a screening of the hilarious Academy Award®-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers with the soundtrack performed by the orchestra live on stage.

Adults and children alike will delight in the film screenings with live orchestra in 2020. In July, KBB Music in association with Coast presents Room on the Broom & Stick Man. Written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, these family favourites will come to life on the big screen complete with René Aubry’s magical music score performed live. In December, Bayleys in association with Coast presents the ‘90s cult Christmas comedy Home Alone in Concert, with the orchestra performing the charming and delightful score by John Williams alongside the movie.

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