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Harding meets Widmann x 2

The siblings, Carolin and Jörg Widmann, are frequently also colleagues – composer Jörg has written several pieces for his younger sister, award-winning violinist Carolin, and his Violin Concerto No. 2 is also dedicated to her. Benjamin Britten dedicated his song cycle, Nocturne, to Alma Mahler with whom he corresponded for many years. The lyrics are taken from all the great writers and Alma was very fond of the piece.

Music director Daniel Harding has recovered after he took ill earlier this week. The rehearsal has therefore been partly led by the young conductor of Finnegan Downie Dear, who also conducts Sibelius Valet Triste at the week’s concerts.

As a composer, it is not a bad thing to have a skilled musician in the family. As a 16-year-old clarinettist, Jörg Widmann started writing down his improvisations in order to remember them. Since then, he has dedicated his time as a composer, alongside his career as a clarinettist and conductor, to exploring non-traditional approaches to music and instruments – preferably together with his younger sister, violinist Carolin Widmann. ”Having Carolin there to conduct my wildest experiments is wonderful,” he said in an interview.

The Widmann siblings were born into a family of amateur musicians in Munich. Both have an impressive CV each, with numerous awards and engagements worldwide. Jörg Widmann’s newly written Violin Concerto no 2, dedicated to Carolin, was premiered in Tokyo in August 2018, conducted by Jörg himself. ”It was a magical evening. Afterwards, I heard that many associated the concerto with Kabuki and Noh performances. I was happy that the piece felt like a drama. Not much happens, but what happens is of great importance.” In Stockholm, Daniel Harding will conduct the performance. ”He is like a brother to me and knows my music really well, so the concerto is in the best possible hands.”

Benjamin Britten wrote his song cycle Nocturne for Alma Mahler. The two met in New York in 1942 and began a correspondence. In 1958, when Britten asked her permission to dedicate his new piece to her, the answer arrived by telegram: “My happiness is great. I cannot feel or think of anything else. My deepest thanks!” Nocturne, written for tenor soloist, flute, cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon, harp, French horn, timpani and strings, presents eight poems by Shelley, Tennyson, Coleridge, Middleton, Wordsworth, Owen, Keats and Shakespeare. In each part of the through-composed piece, a solo instrument emerges beside the solo vocalist.

Andrew Staples, one of Britain’s most versatile tenors, with everything from Händel and Mozart to Britten and Elgar in his repertoire, is a frequent partner to Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Staples is also a director and a portrait photographer.

Text: Anna Hedelius


SWEDISH RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
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Please notice the programme change. Instead of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht we will hear Valse Triste and Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Participants

 

Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester. Foto: Julian Hargreaves.

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground The multi-award-winning orchestra has been praised for its exceptional, wide-ranging musicianship as well as collaborations with the world’s foremost composers, conductors and soloists.

Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the audience in the hall, the orchestra reaches many many listeners on the radio and the web and through it´s partnership with EBU. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and with Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.

“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swedish Radio Symphony was one of the only orchestras in the world which never stopped playing.  Its innovative and creative approach to making music in these dark times helped its public to cope and even made the news itself.

The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them are Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Daniel Harding is Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is also Artistic Director of the Anima Mundi Festival in Pisa and Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has worked for more than 20 years. He is one of few conductors regularly invited to conduct the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concergebouw Orchestra and Wiener Philharmoniker, and additionally a qualified airline pilot.

A renowned opera conductor, he has led acclaimed productions at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Theater an der Wien, London’s Royal Opera House and at the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. He has made a great number of recordings, including Grammy Award-winning Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No. 3 and 4 with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Maria João Pires.

Harding’s contract as music director extends through the 2024-2025  season. In 2019, he also accepted a new role as the orchestra’s first artistic director with an overall responsibility for the orchestra’s artistic vision. This expanded role also includes the opportunity to create brand new types of concert programmes and ways to present classical music in creative ways.

“It is increasingly rare for the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra not only lasts for more than a decade, but keeps growing”, Daniel Harding says about working with the orchestra. “It is also rare for an orchestra of the highest musical standard also very obviously want to keep on growing.”

Harding started out playing the trumpet, but in his teens, the interest in conducting took over. 17 years old, he led a performance of Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with a student ensemble. This led to a job assisting Simon Rattle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for a year. The time with Rattle and the orchestra ended with Harding’s professional debut, conducting the orchestra himself.

In 2002 Daniel was awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government and in 2017 nominated to the position Officier Arts et Lettres. In 2012, he was elected a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He is a qualified airline pilot.

Andrew Staples is an acclaimed and versatile singer who sings regularly with conductors such as Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding and Yannick Nézet-Séguin and orchestras including the Berliner Philharmoniekr, Rotterdam Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Wiener Philharmoniker. He has made several lauded performances in Berwaldhallen, including Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Alan Gilbert during the Baltic Sea Festival 2019 and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius conducted by Daniel Harding the same autumn. In opera, he is a regular guest at the Royal Opera House in London where he has sung Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Flammand in Capriccio, Narraboth in Salome and Artabanes in Artaxerxes.

In December 2019, Staples made a strong debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Andres in Berg’s Wozzeck. A month later he was praised once again, when he on short notice was summoned for Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Gustavo Dudamel and the New York Philharmonic. He has recorded several large works such as John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, Edward Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and Bohuslav Martinů’s The Epic of Gilgamesh. Staples is also a multifaceted director, from staging classics like Così fan tutte and La bohème in London to Handel’s Dido and Aeneas in a dance club with Kiez Oper in Berlin, as well as a production for the Choir of London interweaving Britten’s classic Hymn to St Cecilia with depositions from Palestinian detainees. In the winter of 2021 Staples made the film Siegfried Idyll in collaboration with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding.

 

Concert length: 2 h 10 min incl. intermission