The announcement of Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s (QSO) 2016 season line-up indicates it could be a particularly influential one for the orchestra and its audiences, featuring collaborations with numerous high-profile conductors and soloists as well as various key staff appointments and the launch of at least one new side-project initiative.
The first obvious headline to emerge from this week’s announcement is that pianist Lang Lang (pictured, above) will headline QSO’s Mid-Season Gala, in what the orchestra predicts will be ‘a moment in musical history for Queensland’ (14 June 2016). The one-night-only show will see QSO and Lang Lang performing under the baton of Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, in a programme that features Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and the conductor’s own arrangement of De Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat.
Other performance highlights for 2016 include a live recital of John Williams’ epic score for Raiders of the Lost Ark (6 February 2016); a Beethoven chamber concert by incoming soloist-in-residence Nikolai Demidenko (9 October 2016); and – in what promises to be a truly stirring season finale – violinist Maxim Vengerov performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto as well as his signature Tchaikovsky piece, Symphony No. 6 (29-30 November 2016). Other notable strands, such as the Maestro series, bring equally high calibre shows to Queensland – including conductor Simone Young overseeing Australia’s first ever live pairing of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Das Lied von der Erde, in addition to mid-season appearances from the likes of China’s legendary Yu Long, Alondra de la Parra, Louis Schwizgebel and many more.
Nikolai Demidenko will become QSO’s second ever soloist-in-residence for 2016, tackling an ambitious programme of all five Beethoven piano concertos across two evenings in May and October. (Demidenko follows Shlomo Mintz, last year’s appointment and the first ever soloist-in-residence at an Australian orchestra – since then, the Adelaide and Sydney Symphonies have each followed suit with resident soloists of their own).
In other important QSO appointments, acclaimed beat boxer Tom Thum will appear as artist-in-residence under the QSOCurrent strand, while The Australian Voices choir will spend 2016 as ensemble-in-residence at the orchestra. Johannes Fritzsch returns as conductor laureate, and young Russian-born pianist-conductor Natalia Raspopova begins her tenure as assistant conductor. Meanwhile, the announcement of the selection for QSO’s top job – a new full-time music director – will take place early in the 2016 season.
QSO will also be introducing an innovative series of bite-sized pieces of new music written by Australian composers as a complement to its Maestro series, in an initiative it’s calling the amuse-oreille (amusement for the ear, inspired by the French foodie tradition of the amuse-bouche).
Speaking of the orchestra’s season plans, QSO Chief Executive Officer Sophie Galaise said: ‘Every concert promises a musical adventure. 2016 will be a year of transformative moments…of powerful experiences, from the serene to the vibrant, the exhilarating to the breathtakingly beautiful. Being able to perform with artists the calibre of Lang Lang, Vengerov, Yu Long and de la Parra among others, and to add to our In-Residence program with names such as Nikolai Demidenko, Tom Thum and The Australian Voices, is testament to the reputation of this Orchestra around the globe, as one of immense musicality, one of vision, strength and dynamism.’