Aurora Orchestra marks its ten-year anniversary with the launch of its most vibrant and ambitious season to date. Characterised by the combination of creative programming, outstanding musical quality and innovative presentation which under Nicholas Collon’s artistic direction has become the orchestra’s hallmark, Aurora’s 2015/16 season is rich with eclecticism, collaboration, and – above all – great music. At the heart of the season are two brand-new London series:
Mozart’s Piano at Kings Place
As Resident Orchestra, Aurora collaborates with Kings Place to launch Mozart’s Piano in January 2016 – a five-year journey built around a complete cycle of the Mozart piano concertos. A once-in-a-generation opportunity for audiences to hear the whole cycle performed live by the same orchestra in a single venue, this 25-concert odyssey takes Mozart’s life, music and legacy as the starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey across centuries and musical styles in the company of a spectacular roster of guest soloists. 2016 will see the first seven concertos performed by pianists including John Butt (16 January 2016), Robert Levin (23 April 2016), Cédric Tiberghien (17 September 2016), Lara Melda, Martin James Bartlett (both 16 December 2016), and Aurora’s own John Reid (19 March 2016), alongside a rich tapestry of other music from CPE Bach to Peter Maxwell Davies via Haydn, Schubert and Ravel. Alongside Mozart’s Piano, Aurora also launches The Lock-In – a linked informal late-night series in Hall Two at Kings Place, offering audiences a chance to rub shoulders with the performers, and hear them follow the musical explorations of the main evening programmes in new and unexpected directions.
The Orchestral Theatre at Southbank Centre
Aurora is also delighted to be taking up a new position as Associate Orchestra at Southbank Centre, where from 2016 it launches The Orchestral Theatre: a new series of concerts in which the audience joins the orchestra on and around the stage of the Royal Festival Hall for a thrillingly intimate concert experience. The first two concerts in the series continue to explore the unique memorised performance strand which the orchestra has showcased in recent BBC Proms seasons. The Musical Memory Palace (7 February 2016) is part of Southbank Centre’s Altered Minds festival and invites audiences to take a journey in musical memory in the company of Ed Cooke, Grand Memory Master and founder of memrise.com, who will apply the playful, imaginative and often hilarious ‘memory palace’ techniques which he uses to improve memory retention to Mozart’s 40thsymphony. The programme includes musical illustration from the orchestra, and culminates in a memorised performance of the complete symphony. Playing with Fire (29 May 2016) explores the pursuit of power – and its consequences – in a programme inspired by the figure of Prometheus, featuring HK Grüber’s Frankenstein!!, alongside excerpts from Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus and a memorised performance of his fifth symphony.
Other highlights in the 2015/16 season include:
Objects at an Exhibition at the Science Museum
Re-imagining Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for the twenty-first century, Aurora presents Objects at an Exhibition, a unique walk-through concert staged in partnership with NMC Recordings and the Science Museum. The event includes premiere performances of new works by six leading living composers (Gerald Barry, Barry Guy, Christopher Mayo, Claudia Molitor, Thea Musgrave and David Sawer), each inspired by an object or space in the Science Museum. Featured objects include a nineteenth-century London-York mail coach, Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, and 2L0, the BBC’s first radio transmitter. The performance is devised in collaboration with director Tim Hopkins, with whom Aurora staged its critically-lauded Thriller project in 2011, and is the first orchestral concert performance ever to take over the galleries of one of Europe’s great museums.
The Turn of the Screw at LSO St Luke’s and Snape Maltings Concert Hall
In association with Aldeburgh Music, Aurora presents Britten’s last and arguably greatest chamber opera, The Turn of the Screw, in an atmospheric concert performance directed by Sophie Hunter and Andrew Staples, and featuring a cast including Staples himself, Sophie Bevan, Ann Murray and Jane Irwin. As well as the London performance at LSO St Luke’s (26 October 2015), this programme forms the centrepiece of Aldeburgh’s annual Britten Weekend: Supernatural in Suffolk for which Aurora is resident ensemble (23–25 October 2015). The performance at LSO St Luke’s marks the final event of the New Moves series, as the orchestra bids a fond farewell to the venue and series after six years of concerts.
On White: Musical Conversations between Aurora Orchestra and Edmund de Waal
For the artist and writer Edmund de Waal, bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, the colour white has been a constant companion throughout his artistic life. To mark the launch of his new book The White Road and a major exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts, de Waal collaborates with Aurora to curate a series of events exploring white and its use in music, poetry and the visual arts. Events include: the world premiere of a new commission by Scottish composer Martin Suckling – Psalm – at The Royal Academy (9 November 2015) to coincide with the opening of an exhibition of de Waal’s favourite white objects and paintings; an evening of poetry and music focused on the writings of Paul Celan, staged in partnership with Poet in the City at Kings Place (12 November 2015); and a performance of Hans Zender’s ‘composed interpretation’ of Schubert’s Winterreise as part of Spitalfields Music Winter Festival (8 December 2015) featuring tenor Allan Clayton, and prefaced by a special pre-concert talk between Edmund de Waal and Nicholas Collon.
Far, Far Away for young audiences
Aurora’s Far, Far Away series for families and children of all ages has proved a runaway success since its launch at Kings Place in 2014. The series combines adventurous repertoire and high-quality music making with immersive storytelling, a sense of spectacle, and fun interaction. This season will showcase four original stories from Writer in Residence Kate Wakeling, each exploring the works of a different composer (Bach, Britten and Bartók), as well as a new commission from Aurora’s Collaborative Composer in Residence John Barber. Stories are told by Aurora’s principal players, alongside Workshop Leader in Residence Jessie Maryon Davies, and presented in two formats: one for early years (ages 0–4) and a family show for children aged 5+, with younger siblings welcome. New to 2016 will be the launch of midweek shows for Key Stage 2 schools groups (ages 7–11).
Also at Kings Place, Aurora concludes the year-long Minimalism Unwrapped series with programmes including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 alongside Terry Riley’s In C (20 December 2015), and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich performing John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil (27 November 2015).