SINGAPORE – The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) might have cancelled all its remaining live concerts for the current season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it hopes to make a rousing return in July by honouring one of the world's greatest composers.
The upcoming season will celebrate the 250th birth anniversary of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven – centred on the theme A New Era, which calls for audiences to reflect on change and hope.
It will also be the orchestra's first season under chief conductor Hans Graf, whose tenure begins in the middle of this year.
If all goes according to plan, on July 2, the orchestra will open its 2020/2021 season with the world premiere of Flow, a commission by local composer Zechariah Goh.
The concert will also feature Beethoven's Third Symphony or his Eroica Symphony, as well as Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto, performed by Tokyo-born violinist Karen Gomyo.
On Nov 6 and 7, the SSO will play Beethoven's Ninth Symphony featuring his iconic Ode To Joy, led by Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki.
The composer's Fifth Symphony, among other works, will also be showcased in two concerts led by Estonia-born conductor Neeme Jarvi on Nov 13 and 14.
Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman will perform and conduct all five Beethoven piano concertos in a series titled Emperor of the Piano, while Seoul-born violinist Ye-Eun Choi will be the soloist for Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
Other guest artists in the season include German soprano Diana Damrau, Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, Russian trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov, Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko and Chinese-American conductor Xian Zhang.
The SSO will perform a total of six Beethoven symphonies in the season.
Besides Beethoven's masterpieces, the new season will feature the works of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The orchestra will play his seven symphonies in concerts in July and next February .
Singapore Symphony Group chief executive officer Chng Hak-Peng said in a video conference on Wednesday (April 15): "Beethoven is considered an innovator of the period he lived in. Even when you listen to his music today, much of it feels romantic and modern."
Meanwhile, Sibelius introduced the idea of countries having music they can identify with, he added.
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