- World-first memorised performances of The Rite of Spring at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Helsinki Music Centre, and Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
- A collaboration with Manu Delago at Southbank Centre and Saffron Hall, presenting the world premiere of Environ Us, an orchestration of some of Delago’s 2021 audiovisual album Environ Me
- Three concerts at Kings Place including UK premieres by Nico Muhly and Caroline Shaw
- Mozart in the Garden featuring an original story from Kate Wakeling for children and families
Aurora Orchestra is delighted to reveal its latest season of concerts, challenging expectations through inspiring and creative projects which explore the broadest artistic horizons. This season sees its boldest challenge to date: world-first performances from memory of Stravinsky’s masterpiece The Rite of Spring conducted by Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon, as well as a host of premieres, family offerings and outstanding guest soloists.
Aurora has appeared at the BBC Proms every year since 2010, including presenting pioneering memorised performances of symphonies by Mozart, Shostakovich, Berlioz and Beethoven. This summer Aurora teams up with the Proms and the Helsinki Music Festival to present specially-conceived performances of The Rite of Spring, harnessing the full potential of an orchestra performing without sheet music to present a revelatory new take on Stravinsky’s masterpiece.
The premiere of the Rite in 1913 was the scandal that sounded the beginning of modern music – a riot onstage, as well as off. In the first half of performances in London (Royal Albert Hall, Saturday 2 September) and Helsinki (Musiikkitalo, Tuesday 29 August) Aurora will explore the origins, creation and premiere of the work through a newly-created dramatic and musical introduction, featuring actors voicing the words of the composer and his collaborators. With the help of movement, design, lighting, and newly-commissioned projections by Anouar Brissel, the orchestra will illuminate the context and ideas behind the piece’s creation, its unprecedented use of rhythm, harmony and dissonance, and the story of its notorious premiere, before a performance of the whole ballet score entirely from memory, without sheet music, stands or chairs. The production is conceived and scripted by Aurora Creative Director Jane Mitchell, and co-directed by Mitchell and James Bonas.
Aurora also tours its memorised Rite to several other venues this summer. A version with theatrical elements including movement and actors takes place at Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden (Thursday 31 August), whilst concert performances will be staged at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk (Wednesday 16 August), the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (Tuesday 22 August) and Kurhaus Wiesbaden (Wednesday 23 August) as part of a programme featuring Bloch’s Schelomo with guest soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. While in Wiesbaden, Aurora also presents a concert showcasing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 performed by memory, alongside the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Tom Borrow (Thursday 24 August).
Aurora returns this autumn to the Southbank Centre, where it is Resident Orchestra, for a collaboration with Manu Delago. Joining together for an evening inspired by themes of light, colour and the natural world, the orchestra and Delago present the world premiere of Environ Us, a brand-new orchestration of selected tracks from percussionist, handpan player and composer Delago’s 2021 audiovisual album Environ Me. Weaving together field recordings of the natural world, his trademark percussive sounds and electronic manipulation, the album was a lockdown project sparked by Delago’s desire ‘to create awareness for our immediate surroundings’. The potency of Delago’s message is only increased by this new orchestration, with animations by Ola Szmida. Each track represents a different element and contains its own inspired and individual concept, varying from the use of wildlife, fire and water to man-made steel, gears, Velcro and more, some of which took over a year to create. At times peaceful and appreciative, at times urgent and angry, Environ Us is a dynamic and poignant exploration that harnesses the best of Manu Delago’s adventurous spirit and singular vision. The premiere sits alongside Anna Thorvalsdottir’s Illumine , ‘Circadian’ from Delago’s 2019 album of the same name, and music by Purcell, as well as Delago’s euphoric work for strings, Newton’s Rainbow. In addition to the London performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (Wednesday 11 October), the programme will be presented at Saffron Hall (Sunday 8 October).
Aurora continues to appear in London as Resident Ensemble at Kings Place, with a rich programme of intimate performances and cross-collaborations, spanning a wide variety of repertoire. 2022/23 Kings Place Resident Artist Laura van der Heijden joins Aurora for a programme of musical architectures spanning two hundred years of sonic innovation. From Schubert’s the ‘Great’ C-major symphony and Bach’s fiery Concerto in A minor to a very different kind of musical experiment – György Ligeti’s seminal 1968 work Ramifications (Saturday 17 June). In September the orchestra combines ancient and modern sound worlds through the work of three contemporary composers who are fascinated with the music of the past. Anno presents the UK premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw’s new Concert o for Harpsichord and Strings with harpsichordist Kit Armstrong: the UK premiere of Nico Muhly’s All perfections keep, an arrangement for solo trombone and string quartet of variations on the sixteenth-century lute song I saw my lady weep by John Dowland; and Anna Meredith joins on electronics for her vivid Anno, a reimagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Friday 22 September). In the Light of Air sees Aurora take audiences on an intimate musical journey through light and air, with an immersive performance of Anna Thorvaldsottir’s work of the same name. Scored for viola, cello, piano, harp, percussion and electronics, the piece is presented in the round with theatrical lighting and players within touching distance of the audience. The work is paired with music by Tōru Takemitsu and Claude Debussy (Saturday 25 November).
Aurora’s family offerings aim to open up the world of classical music and bring music alive to audiences of all ages, inspiring the next generation of musicians and music-lovers. Immersive storytelling concert Mozart in the Garden continues the orchestra’s Far, Far Away series, featuring new chamber arrangements of Mozart’s music and an original story from Kate Wakeling, critically-acclaimed poet and Aurora Writer-in-Residence. Aimed at children aged 0-5 and families, and including music from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, audiences are invited to listen, sing, dance, and enter a magical world of music, discovery and play (Saturday 24 June – Sunday 2 July).
John Harte, Chief Executive, Aurora Orchestra,says: ‘We’re thrilled to unveil Aurora’s latest diverse array of programmes, including the orchestra’s most ambitious project to date. The idea of an Aurora Rite from memory has been in development for more than five years, and we’re so excited to apply this richly communicative and theatrical approach to Stravinsky’s incomparable score. Elsewhere in the season we’re delighted to welcome back returning collaborators Anna Meredith and Manu Delago, as well as new artistic partners Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Kit Armstrong and Laura van der Heijden.’
Kings Place Tickets
Southbank Centre Tickets