The most prominent theme running through the 20-odd concerts in the BBC Philharmonic’s 2018/19 Bridgewater Hall season is that of the English concerto. Before the season ends with a new clarinet concerto written and performed by Mark Simpson, the orchestra’s preternaturally gifted Composer in Association, the BBC Philharmonic are performing all five concertos for string instruments by Elgar and Walton, Tippett’s thrilling work for solo piano and orchestra, and the world premiere of the first trumpet concerto by Robin Holloway. This unpredictable mix of well-regarded classics and enticing new music is, in many ways, a microcosm of the season as a whole.
Two concerts in November mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, which brought the First World War to a close. January sees a one-off concert under the Symphonic Cinema banner, when works by Ravel and Stravinsky will be performed alongside dramatic films edited live to match the music. There’s a concert performance of Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz’s Shakespeare-inspired opera. And there are plenty of guests: conductors such as Vassily Sinaisky and John Wilson, soloists including Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Paul Lewis, singers like Roderick Williams and Daniela Mack.
But for all that, the orchestra’s season is perhaps best approached for the broad and brilliant eclecticism of its programme, which juxtaposes familiar favourites (Holst’s Planets, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony) and underplayed repertoire (Martinů’s Fourth Symphony, Bax’s beautiful November Woods) with new music from living composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Valentin Silvestrov and Sir James MacMillan.
Here are our picks
BBC Philharmonic and Manchester International Festival mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo with a world premiere of a major new piece by composer Emily Howard and writer Michael Symmons Roberts. This commission is two-part with ANU presenting an interactive theatrical response on the same day.