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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Autumn 2017 season of the Symphony Orchestra of India raises its curtains today. Pearl Mathias takes a look at the lineup and tells you what to expect from the musical extravaganza

The NCPA has brought us music, drama, activities and lots more over the years. And, in addition to this, it has also introduced us to some of the most renowned artists from across the globe. Ever since establishing India’s first and only professional symphony orchestra, which it did in 2006, the NCPA has introduced new experiences to audiences with every Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) season. Lining up performances comprising of celebrated artists, the Autumn 2017 season of the SOI has lots in store. But first, we thought it was only right that you get to know a little about the performers before you catch them on stage. Here’s what to expect.

With concerts led by renowned conductors Jacek Kaspszyk, Karl Jenkins and SOI resident conductor, Evgeny Bushkov, artists Stephen Hough, István Várdai and Dan Zhu will take centre stage.

For starters…

The season will open with a performance of Dvorák’s cello concerto, which has been called ‘supreme’ among all cello concertos. Led by Polish conductor Jacek Kaspszyk, who has conducted several major orchestras across the world including the Berlin Philharmonic and Orchestra de Paris, the concerto will feature István Várdai, the only cellist in the world to have won two of the most prestigious competitions for cellists — the International Cello Competition in Geneva and the ARD Competition in Munich.

Coming in next…

The next performance of the season will feature one of the finest Chinese violinists, Dan Zhu. A native of Beijing, he made his first public appearance at the age of nine with the China Youth Chamber Orchestra, and has  since performed with several renowned conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Philippe Entremont and Christoph Eschenbach.

All ears here

The next two concerts of the season will feature the most performed living composer in the world, Sir Karl Jenkins. He was knighted in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, becoming the first Welsh-born composer to receive a knighthood for services to composing and crossing musical genres. His most well-known work is ‘The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace’.

However, at this SOI season, Sir Jenkins has other plans. The composer will premiere his new piece, ‘The Universe’, on the next two days of the concert. So, make sure to book your tickets for either of these days to catch this splendid premiere.

The season will conclude with performances by Evgeny Bushkov and Stephen Hough presenting the works of Beethoven and Mozart. The first classical performer to be awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, Stephen Hough tells us about the highlights of his experience while preparing for the SOI concert. “Playing with an orchestra for the first time is always exciting, but when it’s combined with visiting a country for the first time, it becomes truly thrilling! And, the Beethoven Emperor Concerto is one of the great works in the repertoire. It always seems fresh to me — so full of vitality and inspiration,” he says.

Russian artist Evgeny Bushkov has worked with several orchestras including the Moscow Philharmonic and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Speaking about what the audience can expect from the SOI’s Autumn edition, he tells us, “The Autumn edition of the SOI is bringing a refined combination of both youth and experience as well as passion of the Romanticism and Classical restraint. It’s enough to look at the posters of first two concerts conducted by one of the most known Polish Maestros, Jacek Kaspszyk, who will accompany two young string virtuosos, violinist Dan Zhu and cellist Istvàn Vàrdai — an ensemble of musicians of different generations promises much interest. The Indian premiere and second world performance of the large work of Karl Jenkins ‘The Universe’ conducted by the composer himself is definitely a top curiosity of this season; not to be missed!”

He goes on to tell us that he’s happy to return to the SOI. “I am very much looking forward to the season’s last concert because I am going to meet the outstanding pianist Stephen Hough for the first time and hope our collaboration would bring our audience joy and excitement! And certainly the chance to hear Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’, which by electrifying coincidence was the very first symphony in my conductor’s life about 20 years ago, is the culminating point of the 2017 SOI season!”

The lineup of artists and conductors has us excited already, and we can’t wait to make it to NCPA this evening. Here’s the schedule for the season so that you don’t miss out any of the soul-stirring performances at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.

Dvořák: Carnival Overture, Op. 92;

Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104;

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

Performed by: Jacek Kaspszyk (conducting) and István Várdai (on cello)

When: Today

Verdi: Overture to Nabucco;

Korngold: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35;

Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70 B. 141

Performed by: Jacek Kaspszyk (conducting) and Dan Zhu (on violin)

When: September 17

Jenkins: The Universe (International Premiere)

Performed by: Karl Jenkins (conducting), Marat Bisengaliev (on violin) and Living Voices Mumbai (choir)

When: September 22 and 23

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (‘Emperor’) in E-flat major, Op. 73

Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (‘Jupiter’) in C major, K. 551

Performed by: Evgeny Bushkov (conducting) and Stephen Hough (on piano)

When: September 28


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