Mozart’s Piano Year One

6th October 2015

Firmly established amongst the greatest achievements of his or any other composer’s musical output, Mozart’s piano concertos bear dazzling witness to his life-long love affair with the keyboard.

In what is thought to be the first comparable cycle ever to be staged by a British orchestra, Aurora Orchestra’s monumental new five-year project at Kings Place encompasses all twenty-seven concertos, from the experimental first footsteps of his teenage years through to the masterpieces of maturity in Vienna.

In typically eclectic and adventurous style, Aurora has taken the concertos as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey across centuries and contrasting repertoire, bursting with world-class guest artists and great music.  The result is a virtuosic, vibrant and playful series which illuminates Mozart’s life, music and legacy in new and unexpected ways.  Perhaps, in fact, the kind of series the irrepressibly dynamic composer might himself have programmed around his own music.

Come and experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for London audiences to hear the greatest of all piano concerto cycles performed by one of Europe’s most exciting chamber orchestras in the beautifully intimate surroundings of Hall One. And don’t miss The Lock-In, a linked informal late-night series in Hall Two, which offers audiences a chance to mingle with the performers and hear them follow the musical adventures of the main programmes in new and unexpected directions…

The Lock-In

As the lights go down on the Hall One stage, join the Aurora players as we move across to Hall Two for a late-night series like no other. Somewhere between a speakeasy and a concert, The Lock-In takes our main Mozart’s Piano programmes as starting points for adventure in the company of the Aurora principals and special guests. Grab a glass, rub shoulders with the artists, and settle in for an intimate performance that feels like you’ve unlocked the door to the artists’ bar. Whether ravishing or anarchic, playful or sublime, you’re always guaranteed great music and musicians, all in an informal space where you’re free to move around, order a drink, or stand transfixed. Come and join us as we set out in search of late-night serendipity…

The Lock-In is co-curated with Max Baillie, Aurora’s Principal Viola.  These informal events take place in Hall Two, with a bar service available in the Hall throughout.  The Hall Two doors and bar will open immediately after the end of each main Hall One performance, with live music starting approximately 20–30 minutes after the Hall One concert concludes.  Events last c. 90 minutes. 


Upcoming performance dates:

“Bach is the father, we are the children”

Saturday 16 January 2016, 7.30pm
Kings Place, Hall One

JC Bach Symphony No. 6 in G minor, Op. 6
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F major, K37 
CPE Bach 
Sinfonia in D, WQ 183/1 
JS Bach 
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 
Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K546
JS Bach 
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048

John Butt harpsichord/director

Mozart’s Piano begins with a look back to the composer’s musical forbears, and in particular to the profound effect which members of the Bach family had on his life and music. When Mozart referred to Bach as his ‘musical father’, he had in mind the most famous Bach at the time, Johann Sebastian’s second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel. Childhood tuition in London by Johann Christian catalysed his interest in the piano concerto, and a later introduction to ‘Old Sebastian’ left the 26-year old composer awe-struck. One of the world’s leading early music specialists, John Butt, directs a programme exploring the foundations of Mozart’s artistry, setting the scene for all that will follow over the next five seasons.

The Lock-In: “1, 2, 3 Bach!”

Saturday 16 January 2016, from c. 9.45pm
Kings Place, Hall Two

The Lock-In kicks off with an expanding feast of Bach. Starting with the D-minor Suite (heard here on solo viola) we move to the polyphonic playfulness of the Two-Part Inventions before finally arriving at Mozart’s own Preludes, composed to accompany his arrangements of fugues by J S Bach. These string trios by the classical wunderkind are a homage to the Baroque grand master, whose work continues to inspires us some 300 years later.

In the Court of the Mad King

Saturday 19 March 2016, 7.30pm
Kings Place, Hall One

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, K 39
Peter Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King
Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D major, H 1/104

John Reid piano
George Humphreys baritone
Nicholas Collon conductor

Georgian London hosted and inspired Europe’s leading musicians. For the young Mozart, London became home for a year in 1764/65, during which he was a regular visitor at the royal court and even accompanied the young Queen Charlotte at the keyboard. London also welcomed and celebrated Joseph Haydn, a composer so popular in the city that at the height of his fame hardly a day went by without a performance of his music. This theatrical concert traces a path from the vibrant flowering of culture in the early years of George III’s rule to the lonely and painful unravelling of the monarch’s mind in the latter part of his reign, depicted here in Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, a work which almost 50 years since its own London premiere has lost none of its ability to shock.

The Lock-In: Musicircus

Saturday 19 March 2016, from c. 9.45pm
Kings Place, Hall Two

You won’t hear anything, you’ll hear everything.
(John Cage)

As the last echoes of Peter Maxwell Davies’ iconic Eight Songs for a Mad King fade in Hall One, we surrender to glorious chaos with a participative Musicircus.  John Cage’s anarchic, mischievous and startling concept places multiple pieces of music in a single space, to be played at the same time, to the same audience.  Aurora musicians will relinquish all control of the evening, inviting the audience to direct the event themselves.

Child’s Play

Saturday 23 April 2016, 7.30pm
Kings Place, Hall One

Reicha Overture in D major
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 3 in D major, K 40
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, K 41
Schubert Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, D 125

Robert Levin piano/conductor

Good God! How hard I work and sweat… and to you, my friend, it is all child’s play. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I too had to work hard, so as not to have to work hard any longer.’
(Mozart recalls an exchange with G F Richter in a letter of 1784)

O Mozart, immortal Mozart, how many, how infinitely many inspiring suggestions of a finer, better life have you left in our souls!
(Franz Schubert, 1816)

As a keyboard player, Mozart astonished his contemporaries not just with technical virtuosity and musicianship, but with an unsurpassed talent for improvisation that was both boundlessly inventive and apparently effortless. Aurora is thrilled to welcome Robert Levin, one of the great pianists and improvisers of our age, for a programme which explores youthful precocity, showmanship and the visceral impact of a newly-spun cadenza.

The Lock-In: Improvised

Saturday 23 April 2016, from c. 9.45pm
Kings Place, Hall Two

From the sublimely delicate to the explosively virtuosic, this concert presents a musical partnership which bridges two string traditions dating back centuries: the violin and the West African kora. Sura Susso joins Aurora principal Max Baillie in a collaborative performance based on a unique improvisational chemistry. Showcasing an irresistible shared musical language forged over a decade of playing together as a duo, the pair explore bardic tunes and compositions from both continents in a meeting of traditions and minds which is truly transportive.

Grand Tour

Saturday 17 September 2016, 7.30pm
Kings Place, Hall One

Paganini Caprice No. 5
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 5 in D major, K 175
Liszt Le mal du pays (‘Homesickness’) from Les années de pèlerinage
Mozart Piano Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, K 238
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 (‘Italian’)

Cédric Tiberghien piano
Thomas Gould violin
Nicholas Collon conductor

In 1762, Leopold Mozart took his 6-year old son Wolfgang on a journey to the court in Munich to perform to Prince Elector Maximillian III of Bavaria.  The visit marked the beginning of several years of touring for the Mozart family, during which the young Wolfgang entertained and astonished audiences and patrons in cities throughout Europe.  For the great virtuosi of the next century, travel was to become a way of life, giving rise to countless stories whose echoes still resound today: from Mozart’s proposal to Marie Antoinette to Mendelssohn’s inspirational travels in Italy, and the fainting sufferers of ‘Lisztmania’. Interwoven with specially-commissioned animated films, this programme brings to sparkling life the wealth of music and tales inspired by these Grand Tours.

The Lock-In: On the Road

Saturday 17 September 2016, from c. 9.45pm
Kings Place, Hall Two

Founded by Aurora Principal Trumpet Simon Cox and comprising several regular Aurora brass players, Septura has quickly established itself as one of the UK’s most inventive and highly-regarded brass ensembles. Aiming to re-cast the brass ensemble as a serious artistic medium through the unique sound of the brass septet, the group is gaining a reputation for engaging audiences with imaginative programmes built from a growing repertoire of specially-created transcriptions, arrangements and commissions.

For this programme Septura reflects on the nomadic existence of creators and performers of music through a series of works which were all written far from the composers’ homes. The group’s transcriptions and arrangements – spanning five centuries of composers on tour – make every effort to remain faithful to the originals. But they also throw vivid new light on these masterpieces, illuminating them afresh as they are re-born for brass septet. With music by Prokofiev, Victoria, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Lassus, come and hear why this pioneering group was heralded as ‘magnificent’ in a recent 5-star review for The Observer.


Friday 16 December 2016, 7.30pm
Kings Place, Hall One

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 7 in F major, K 242 (‘Lodron’)
Saint-Saëns The Carnival of the Animals
Ravel Mother Goose Suite
Mozart Symphony No.31 in D major, K 297/300a (‘Paris’)

Lara Melda piano
Martin James Bartlett piano
Nicholas Collon conductor

Drawing the first year of Mozart’s Piano to a close, Aurora presents a concert celebrating the exuberance, playfulness and imagination of Mozart’s childhood. This programme draws together Mozart’s witty piano concerto No. 7, which was commissioned by Countess Lodron for her daughters; Ravel’s enchanting Mother Goose Suite, composed for siblings Jean and Mimi, aged 6 and 7; and Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals. Aurora welcomes two recent winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition – Lara Melda and Martin James Bartlett – as soloists, whilst Writer-in-Residence Kate Wakeling weaves together stories from Mozart’s early family life with the fairytales and animals so beautifully evoked by Saint-Saëns and Ravel.

The Lock-In: The Willow Baby and Other Tales

Friday 16 December, from c. 9.45pm
Kings Place, Hall Two

Enter a magical-realist world of folk tales, music and visuals in this interlinked cycle of stories inspired by pagan myths.  With original text and programming by Aurora’s Principal Viola Max Baillie, The Willow Baby and Other Tales takes the audience on an evocative journey far from London, weaving together live music and a rich visual feast of video and light animation into a truly unique evening of musical story-telling.