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Cardiff classical community unites for Beethoven 250

9 May 2019

Next year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and the orchestra and classical music communities of Cardiff are coming together to present a year-long celebration of the composer.

Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, St David’s Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and Sinfonia Cymru have programmed a series of events to celebrate Beethoven’s work and to introduce him to people who may not be as familiar, as well as providing something special for those who are well-versed in his music.

The celebration launches in January, when WNO Orchestra and BBC NOW come together to re-create the concert of 22 December 1808, a benefit held for Ludwig van Beethoven at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna that featured the public premieres of Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Choral Fantasy. WNO Orchestra, conducted by WNO Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi, will play for the first half of the evening (Symphony No 6, Ah, perfido, Gloria from Mass in C Major and Piano Concerto No 4) with BBC NOW, conducted by Jaime Martin, playing the second half (Symphony No 5, Sanctus from Mass in C Major, ExtemporisedFantasia and Fantasia). The Orchestras will be joined by Steven Osborne and Llyr Williams on piano and soloists to be confirmed.

In February events move to Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama where RWCMD Symphony Orchestra and animateur Ruth Rosales take families on an interactive journey through time to meet Beethoven in Orchestradventure!

In March, Sinfonia Cymru are joined by conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy and pianist Pavel Kolesnikov to share the Complete Piano Concertos over a whole weekend at RWCMD.  Kolesnikov, a former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist is emerging as a pianist who displays the utmost musical integrity and sensitivity.

Aurora Orchestra join us in Cardiff during May to perform Eroica from memory. This incredible feat will be conducted by Nicolas Collon and is somewhat of a speciality of the Orchestra as they explain that performing pieces from memory brings them closer to their audience (as they are not separated by music stands), allows flexibility within performance spaces and gives the musicians a much closer relationship with the music and each other.

As we reach summer BBC NOW, at their home venue Hoddinott Hall, bring us Missa Solemnis, the mass composed between 1819 and 1823 which is critically regarded as one of Beethoven’s great works.

The year-long activity concludes in November as WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus leads WNO Orchestra in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as part of the St David’s Hall International Concert Series.

This is the latest example of the collaborative work happening within the classical music sector in Cardiff, ensuring a broad provision of music and encouraging the growth of audiences in this area. We hope that existing audiences will experience work by a company they may not have seen before, and that new people discover classical music through this season of work.