The highlight of last season was our sensational success with Handel’s opera Radamisto, delighting audiences in Paris, Birmingham and London and culminating in a performance that raised the roof of New York’s Carnegie Hall. It has ensured that we will be presenting a Handel opera commissioned by Carnegie Hall every year for the foreseeable future. Both the Barbican in London and Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris have also committed to this project which is extraordinary endorsement for this orchestra from some of the world’s leading classical music institutions. This season’s Theodora promises to be no less exciting with a cast of expert Handelians in the shape of Rosemary Joshua, Sarah Connolly, Tim Mead, Neal Davies and Andrew Kennedy. But this time, apart from New York, London, Birmingham and Paris we shall be travelling to the West Coast of the USA, presenting this great oratorio in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles as well!
Another highlight of last season was our tour to the Far East – China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan with the wonderful soprano Carolyn Sampson; the warm reception we received from audiences over there and their surprising curiosity and eagerness to learn about baroque music will stay with me for a long time.
Our season opens with a rare and unusual appearance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre over the summer of 2013. “Gabriel” is a unique theatrical experience featuring the music of Handel and Purcell played by The English Concert alongside Alison Balsom, one of the world’s finest trumpeters and a regular collaborator with whom we recorded the highly successful CD “Sound the Trumpet” for EMI last year.
Our first London concert this season will see the return of our founder Trevor Pinnock who will direct a programme of Handel, Vivaldi and Bach in the Wigmore Hall on the 15th of October. It will be the first time Trevor returns to direct the orchestra in public since his retirement as Artistic Director more than a decade ago. I can think of no one better to open our Anniversary Wigmore Hall Season!
In fact our Wigmore Hall series is an extended one with five concerts across the season, featuring world-class vocal talent, such as Sally Matthews, Lucy Crowe, Sonia Prina and Robert Invernizzi alongside our favourite guest-conductors Bernard Labadie and Laurence Cummings. Laurence will present a programme exploring the personal and musical relationships between J.S. Bach, C.P.E Bach and their friend and godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, whilst Bernard Labadie will lead us toward a very Italian Easter. I myself shall be rounding off the Wigmore Hall series with regular collaborator Lucy Crowe, who is quickly establishing herself as one of this country’s leading sopranos.
The last 40 years have been a remarkable journey of musical invention, spirit and generosity. These values have formed the building blocks of the orchestra 40 years ago but are still present in the current generation of musicians and will guarantee inspired music-making for the decades to come. It is these musicians, first and foremost, who have made The English Concert into what it is today; a unique, extraordinary and world-class orchestra that I am honoured to continue to lead.
Harry Bicket - Artistic Director