Ulster Orchestra’s new season starts tonight with a sold out opening concert that follows last night's open rehearsal. The programme over the coming months features a mix of classical concerts and guest musicians. Some special events stand out.
The orchestra will team up with the RTE Concert Orchestra on Friday 14 November to perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in St Anne’s Cathedral. They’ll be joined in the atmospheric setting by Belfast Philharmonic Choir, Leeds Philharmonic Choir and the Girl Choristers of the cathedral.
The evening of Classical Favourites on Saturday 22 November is a family friendly treat of recognisable tunes and fanfares.
The Different Worlds concert on Friday 28 November brings to life three fantastical realms including Weber’s Oberon and Dvořák’s Symphony No 9 (“From the New World”).
The Snowman is back (Saturday 6 December at 2pm and 4.30pm) along with Handel’s Messiah (Friday 12 and Saturday 13 December), both in the Belfast Waterfront.
Sci-fi fans might want to put a weekend of concerts into their diaries. The orchestra will perform Gottfried Huppertz’s original score live to digitally-restored version of Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis on Saturday 21 March 2015. The following evening, Sunday 22 March, they’re back with Music from the Star Wars Saga, featuring John Williams’ theme from Episodes 1-3. (Episodes 4-6 will be back in the 2015/6 season in preparation for the release of Star Wars Episode 7.)
Free pre-concert talks by conductors together with open rehearsals, monthly lunchtime concerts (1.05pm-1.55pm on 1 October, 22 October, 29 October and 17 December) together with work in schools and regional concerts in Bangor, Strabane, Ballymena, Derry and Dublin are all welcome (and continued) innovations. Ticket prices for many of the Ulster Hall-based concerts range from £10 for a seat in the choir stalls overlooking the orchestra up to £25.
The Ulster Orchestra’s principal conductor JoAnn Falletta has moved on and in her place this season is Jac van Steen. Rafael Payare has been appointed Chief Conductor. You can hear an interview with JoAnn and two of the orchestra's members I recorded at last season's opening concert. To quote trumpeter Patrick McCarthy:
“This is just the world’s most fantastic music. It’s not about being elitist: it’s music that’s there for everyone.”