The Hallé’s newly announced Manchester season explores ‘Northern Legends’, complete with the gods, kings and giants that inspired some true masterpieces of the Romantic era, and continues to influence composers today. Shakespeare and Beethoven share the billing in Sir Mark Elder’s opening programmes, and Elgar forms the centrepiece of the season with a festival featuring three of this most iconic pieces. Sir Mark closes the season in spectacular style conducting both the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic in Schoenberg’s massive, formidable Gurrelieder.
The 2016/2017 Halle season starts in September with Sir Mark directing Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture to Hamlet and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (the Pastoral). Then on 6 October the Orchestra will be joined by the Hallé choir and soloists for Beethoven’s epic Symphony No. 9 and scenes from Verdi’s Macbeth.
Principal Guest Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth’s concerts include a programme of seminal twentieth century works connected by the outbreak of World War II, including Copland’s evocative Fanfare for the Common Man. He will then be joined by Sophie Bevan and Mark Padmore to perform Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Tippett’s Child of our Time.
On 27 November the Halle features one of the greatest ‘Northern Legends’ of them all – Wagner’s Das Rheingold. After the success of Götterdämmerung and Die Walküre, acclaimed Wagnerian Mark Elder will be joined by a superb cast of soloists to explore this first part of The Ring of the Niebelung and will undoubtedly be one of the season’s highlights.
2016 will also see the debut appearance of the Halle’s new Assistant Conductor Jonathon Heyward, who will be taking to the podium on November 10 to conduct Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. Audiences will have the chance to catch Heyward again later in the season as he conducts two of the Hallé’s Christmas Family Concerts.
In March 2017, the Hallé will celebrate Sir Mark Elder’s 70th birthday with a trio of Elgar concerts. The orchestra – who gave the piece its world premiere in 1908 – will perform Elgar’s rousing First Symphony, followed by a Gerard McBurney ‘Beyond the Score’ presentation exploring the Enigma Variations. The short festival concludes with a performance of the Dream of Gerontius. Soloist Iain Paterson returns following his appearance in Das Rheingold, whilst rising vocal stars David Butt Philip and Sasha Cooke are Gerontius and the Angel respectively.
In a fascinating concert, conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto directs works from his native Mexico alongside a programme of Spanish and American music. Other spring highlights include the world premiere of Huw Watkins’ Symphony alongside Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, Mark Elder conducting Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Ryan Wigglesworth conducting Bruckner’s Ninth and his own Locke’s Theatre.
The season reaches a legendary climax with a performance of Schoenberg’s electrifying Gurrelieder. Following the success of previous Hallé and BBC Philharmonic collaborations, these two great orchestras will come together again under the baton of Sir Mark Elder to offer a thrilling conclusion to a fascinating season.
The Halle Orchestra. Image credit to Russel Hart.