2018 | 2019 Season
Welcome to our new season! Last year I was the happy recipient of more than one hundred and fifty sound files and YouTube links, from which I selected just over twenty applicants for live audition. It gave me a snapshot of the tremendous amount of talent out there and an insight into how keen young artists are to play for us - some flew over from France and Germany just for a fifteen-minute audition. Because of the range and standard we heard, we programmed twelve concerts from the audition process rather than the usual eight. There were some happy circumstances: Leif Kaner-Lidström (a talented chamber pianist) applied to audition with his father (the celebrated cellist Mats Lidström). Mats - with an established international career and a really exciting stage presence - did not need to audition, so we offered the Father and Son duo a concert straight away. Similarly, the Aurora Percussion Duo - whose visceral, dynamic performances and almost telepathic communication I have witnessed on stage many times - wanted to apply for audition, but were immediately offered an engagement instead.
The auditions were conducted with a panel of three and - for the first time - with the input of a group of the Society's Friends. This was a great success. We loved hearing the views of audience members and wanted to encourage a sense of involvement and ownership from both the Friends and the wider audience. The standard of pianists in particular was astronomical and highlights included the Syrian pianist Riyad Nicolas (so poignant to read that his concerto debut was with an orchestra in Aleppo) and the Romanian pianist Florian Mitrea.
A theme of fusions gradually began to emerge as we undertook the programming process. Chamber groups (perhaps in an effort to make themselves stand out from the crowd) are exploring new repertoire and novel juxtapositions. This season we have included: Klezmer-ish - a personable and talented band who combine klezmer with music from worldwide folk traditions; K’antu Ensemble - a vocal/instrumental group presenting early music within a folk and world music context, and the World Percussion Group who audition musicians from around the world and bring together instruments and musical traditions from many countries.
Specially invited are: the newly re-formed Apollo Saxophone Quartet, a virtuoso, multi-talented ensemble whose programmes are always lively and invigorating; Giovanni Guzzo, the charismatic former leader of Manchester Camerata now enjoying a truly international concert and recording career; perennial crowd-pleasers the Scott Brothers Duo, and the outstanding Manchester Chamber Choir.
I am really excited about this coming season. The standard of artists is incredible, the programmes varied and stimulating, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. This season of concerts is a journey - a world tour even - and I hope you enjoy the trip with us.
Simon Parkin (Director of Concerts)