The good folk of the Barbican have announced their classical music programme for 2015-16 with quite the most gigantic, virtually impenetrable press release Londonist has ever seen. Fans of detail we might be, and mischievous enough to consider simply copying and pasting the monster into here, but good sense prevails as we plough through it to pick out what we'd say are likely to be the highlights of the season. Don't mention it.
London Symphony Orchestra
We'll start with the home team, the venerable London Symphony Orchestra, which this year celebrates the milestone birthday of 111 years. Well, it'd be a milestone if any of us got there. The LSO's season begins in September 2015 with a trio of concerts featuring revered Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink, American pianist Murray Perahia and German soprano Anna Lucia Richter, but the season's main name is to be Sir Simon Rattle, most memorably known for conducting the LSO at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
Sir Simon will be waving his stick to Ravel in January 2016, Haydn in April 2016 and a brand new children’s opera by Peter Maxwell Davies in June 2016. Here's a quick look at the man in action in a previous go at Haydn, from last year.
Academy of Ancient Music
The original Academy of Ancient Music was founded in London in 1726, and though this incarnation can only date back to 1973 we're happy to welcome them back to their roots with a new season opening in September 2015. Monteverdi and Bach will be important components of the 2015-16 season, but we're particularly intrigued by Music from the Dark Side on 19 October 2015. An exploration of lesser-known works with a dark heart, it promises to be a unique evening at the Barbican's Milton Court under the direction of the AAM's leader Pavlo Beznosiuk.
For a flavour of what to expect from the AAM, here's their performance, Haydn on the Thames, at the Queen's 2012 Jubilee Pageant. Not much could have made the sodden old dear smile that day, but this had as good a chance as anything.
War Work: 8 Songs with film
On 10 December 2015, War Work comprises an audio-visual song cycle directed and composed by Michael Nyman and edited by French-English filmmaker Max Pugh. It explores the work of First World War poets (and not just the usual Owen/Sassoon) and various themes surrounding the horrors of the conflict a century ago. A handy trailer for War Work has been made available, and you can watch that below.
The Barbican is famous for inviting some of the world's leading classical organisations to be part of its programme, and this year the three major guests are the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Bach Collegium of Japan. The third of these is perhaps the highlight — it will be the Bach Collegium's first UK residency and their shows will feature the likes of sopranos Hana Blazikova and Joanne Lunn, countertenor Robin Blaze, tenor Colin Balzer and bass-baritone Dominik Wörner.
Here's the Collegium performing Bach's Freue dich, erlöste Schar in 2012.
The Barbican’s Artist Spotlight in 2015-16 is on one of the most famous sopranos of recent decades, the American Renée Fleming. A soprano's route to stardom is not as easily mapped out as for pop stars but Fleming did her cause no harm at all by being asked to sing the National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey. She will be performing a trio of shows at the Barbican in early 2016, including a specially written 24 minute song cycle about love and desire on 5 February 2016, entitled The Strand Settings. But come on... the Super Bowl!
The Barbican's 2015-16 classical music programme kicks off in September 2015. Tickets go on sale on 26 January and the full programme is available from the Barbican.