Simon Halsey, LSO Choral Director

Simon Halsey, LSO Choral Director

LSO Sing

LSO Sing, the Orchestra’s singing programme led by LSO Choral Director Simon Halsey, gets into its stride in its second year in 2014/15. With five Singing Days at LSO St Luke’s, choral concerts conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and Gianandrea Noseda among others, and two premieres by Sally Beamish and Jonathan Dove, plus the London Symphony Chorus (LSC) performing without orchestra, it looks set to be an inspiring season of singing.

LSO Sing is generously supported by the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust and The John S Cohen Foundation

Remembering World War I

Sally Beamish’s Equal Voices is a new 45-minute piece for chorus, orchestra and two soloists co-commissioned by the LSO and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The idea for Equal Voices came from Sir Andrew Motion, whose powerful collection Laurels and Donkeys reflects on many aspects of war. Sally Beamish has selected the poem ‘An Equal Voice’ which draws on the tragedy of shell shock and war-induced post-traumatic stress, from the Somme to Afghanistan. The poem uses the voices of patients and doctors, most of which are taken from A War of Nerves by Ben Shephard, and Beamish has juxtaposed the poem with some of the most beautiful passages in the Old Testament from the ‘Song of Songs’, thereby contrasting Motion’s dark and devastating imagery with this remarkable Middle-Eastern love idyll. Sally Beamish has travelled widely to give seminars and talks about her music, and both she and Andrew Motion will take part in a one-day conference exploring music and trauma at LSO St Luke’s, prior to the evening concert.

‘The opportunity to create this work with Andrew Motion, the LSO, LSC and two fabulous soloists, is tremendously exciting and inspirational.’
Sally Beamish

The world premiere marks the start of the LSO’s own four-year exploration of World War I, during which it will delve into its own archives. The LSO was the only current London orchestra in existence during the War, and LSO members lived, fought and died during 1914–18. The Orchestra is in a unique position to recount their stories in a vibrant combination of events and online resources. How did the LSO Board deal with the fact that their Principal Horn was a German national? How did they cope with one of their number, trumpeter Sidney Moxon, being killed in action on the Somme in 1917? How did the ban on performing ‘unpatriotic’ German repertoire such as Brahms and Beethoven inform the creation of a new body of orchestral repertoire? Answers will be provided on a groundbreaking new website.

The Profession and the Community on One Stage

Sir Simon Rattle had the idea of a commission for young people, the local community and the LSO; Jonathan Dove’s The Monster in the Maze is the first in a number of co-commissions between the LSO and the Berlin Philharmonic in coming years. Dove has written more than 25 operas of different shapes and sizes, including works for television and operas for a family audience. In 2008 he joined the Cape Farewell voyage to the Arctic, and has subsequently been developing opera projects related to climate change.

This year he is composing an hour-long community opera to be performed by the LSO, its Community and Youth Choirs, Guildhall School students, an actor and soloists. Telling the story of the rescue from the Labyrinth by Theseus of young Athenians sent to Crete as a sacrifice to the Minotaur – setting a text by Alasdair Middleton – it has been specially written so that students from the Guildhall School can sit side-by-side with LSO professionals. Jonathan Dove has a history of firsts with the LSO, having been commissioned to write Stargazer, ‘an opera for solo trombone’ and The Passing of the Year was commissioned by the LSC. Like all of Dove’s music, which is hugely approachable, varied and exciting, we can expect works charged with intensity and beauty.

In Conversation with Conductor Gianandrea Noseda

Thoughts on singing …
‘The most natural instrument in the world is the human voice: anyone can sing. Of course I’m not saying everyone has the potential to be the next big opera singer, but singing together in a choir and feeling part of a bigger performance is such a joy and everyone can do it. You put your talent, your voice, to the service of your colleagues in the chorus to make the audience enjoy the performance. Music is about this: sharing everyone’s talents – it’s a mutual exchange of energy that results in something much more magnificent.’

Thoughts on the LSO …
‘With the LSO, it doesn’t matter if you perform X composer, Y composer or Z composer. I think, in my experience, they never step back. The LSO has virtuosity, limitless virtuosity, flexibility, much attention to detail and care about the production of sound. These are among some of the best qualities for a modern orchestra – to be consistent, to be flexible, and to be so committed to sound and style. Like many professional British orchestras, the LSO is quick – like myself, they don’t like to waste time. They are able to act like a chameleon, to change styles without losing that precision, technique, intonation and flexibility. Performing Britten’s War Requiem with the LSO and LSC, both in New York and at the Barbican, was one of the highlights of my concert activity.'

Thoughts on London as a cultural hub …
'I love London as a city and more so as a cultural city because so many things are going on. Because of that I consider London, along with New York, a capital for music. It’s an exciting place to be! Of course London is in my future plans, it’s one of the cities I want to spend more time in. So many things happen here. If you stay in London for two weeks, it’s easy to see so many artists, many directors or soloists, and because one or the other is playing with a different orchestra you can go and meet with them too. It’s like being sat in the canteen of the Metropolitan Opera House: you sit there for one hour and you see all the major singers and conductors. On a much bigger scale, that happens here.'

Gianandrea Noseda conducts the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s Equal Voices

LSO Choral Singing Days

Join LSO Choral Director Simon Halsey in workshops on masterpieces being performed by the LSO’s professional choral team at the Barbican. Suitable for experienced singers.

> Sat 22 Nov 2014
19th-Century Oratorios

> Sat 7 Feb 2015
Duruflé Requiem

> Sat 9 May 2015
Brahms Connections

LSO Community Singing Days

David Lawrence, conductor of the LSO Community Choir, explores music from all sorts of genres and backgrounds. Open to all, why not join in and experience the power and magic of singing in a large group. Suitable for all.

> Sat 20 Sep 2014
From Bach to Beatles

> Sat 20 Jun 2015
African/American Journey

LSO Sing Concerts

> Sun 2 Nov 2014
ELGAR Carillon
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No 5 ('Emperor')
SALLY BEAMISH Equal Voices (based on the poetry of Andrew Motion; World Premiere, co-commissioned with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra)
Gianandrea Noseda conductor
Nelson Freire piano
Marcus Farnsworth baritone
London Symphony Chorus

> Wed 26 Nov 2014
JONATHAN DOVE The Passing of the Year
RACHMANINOV All-Night Vigil ('Vespers')
Simon Halsey conductor
London Symphony Chorus

> Sun 14 Dec 2014
LSO Brass Ensemble Christmas Concert
Simon Halsey conductor
London Symphony Chorus
LSO Community Choir
LSO Youth Choir
LSO Brass Ensemble

> Sun 11 Jan 2015
SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri
Sir Simon Rattle conductor
Sally Matthews peri
Mark Padmore narrator
Kate Royal soprano
Bernarda Fink alto
Andrew Staples tenor
Florian Boesch bass
London Symphony Chorus

> Sun 1 Mar 2015
DEBUSSY La damoiselle élue
DEBUSSY La mer
DURUFLÉ Requiem
Donald Runnicles conductor
London Symphony Chorus

> Sun 24 May 2015
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
BRAHMS German Requiem
Daniel Harding conductor
Christian Tetzlaff violin
London Symphony Chorus

> Sun 21 Jun 2015
BEETHOVEN Overture: Leonore No 2
BEETHOVEN Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage
BEETHOVEN Symphony No 9 ('Choral')
Bernard Haitink conductor
Erin Wall soprano
Karen Cargill mezzo-soprano
Steve Davislim tenor
Hanno Müller-Brachmann bass-baritone
London Symphony Chorus

> Sun 5 Jul 2015
JONATHAN DOVE The Monster in the Maze: a new opera for children (UK premiere)
WALTON Symphony No 1
Sir Simon Rattle conductor
LSO Youth Choir
LSO Community Choir
Alasdair Middleton libretto



 
 
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