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Prince and Beethoven to star in ASO's 2019 season


From Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms to pop icon Prince, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 season will traverse a broad spectrum of music as part of the orchestra’s ongoing push to widen its audience base.

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Launched today, the 2019 program comprises more than 100 concerts including several grand showcases and the return of familiar programs such as Master Series and Classics Unwrapped.

An early highlight will be the ASO’s tribute concert to the late American singer-songwriter Prince, presented over two nights in mid-February in collaboration with Australian musicians iOTA, Brendan Maclean, Prinnie Stevens and Orianthi.

Let’s go crazy: A Symphonic Tribute to Prince will have a similar upbeat feel to this year’s George Michael tribute concert and will feature some of Prince’s most popular songs including Little Red Corvette, Kiss, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World and Purple Rain.

“It’s not exactly my kind of music, but there’s a big audience for that kind of stuff, which is a great thing for the orchestra,” says ASO principal conductor Nicholas Carter, who is approaching his fourth and final year in the role.

“It’s great that we can perform concerts like this to approach a different audience base, perhaps people who wouldn’t think of coming to an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra concert and therefore haven’t had the exposure to the orchestra and the ASO brand.”

Other crowd-pleasing showcases include composer John Williams’ blockbuster movie scores from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back, which will be performed in two separate concerts at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, where the films will be projected onto a giant screen.

“These are ways that we can get 5000 people to come and see a concert, which of course is an amazing feat and Star Wars and Harry Potter have some of the greatest film music ever written,” Carter says.

“We understand that there’s going to be an audience for Harry Potter and there’s still going to be an audience for Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony and sometimes that will overlap and sometimes people will only love one.

“That’s our job in the 21st century – to adapt with the times and adapt ourselves as an organisation to fit those times and different people’s taste in music.”

Fans of traditional orchestral concerts will be pleased by the return of the orchestra’s flagship Master Series program, which will feature well-known composers including Elgar, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Brahms, Mozart and Wagner.

It’s like a technicolour jack-in-the-box of orchestral sparkle and fireworks

Leading three of the Master Series concerts will be Principal Guest Conductor Mark Wigglesworth, described by Carter as “one of the world’s leading conductors”, whose close affinity with the work of late-Romantic composer Gustav Mahler will be on show when he conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 during the Master Series 3 concert.

“I wish I could be in town to hear that because that’s one of the most remarkable works in the classical canon and to hear Mark bring that to life with the orchestra will be pretty special,” Carter says.

“He’ll be performing the Ninth Symphony as well as the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Andreas Ottensamer – one of the world’s greatest clarinettists – here in Adelaide, which is going to be extreme.”

Carter also flags the Master Series 1 concert, as a “must-see” for people who are interested in attending a traditional orchestral performance for the first time.

“It’s like a technicolour jack-in-the-box of orchestral sparkle and fireworks – it’s going to be such an amazingly fun program that will completely lift the roof off the Town Hall.”

In anticipation for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, Carter will conduct a four-concert cycle over two weeks of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos at Elder Hall, which ABC Classic FM will record for commercial release in 2020.

The concerts, headlined by young pianist Jayson Gillham, will mark the first time the concertos have been recorded featuring an Australian soloist, conductor and orchestra.

“It will be a really fascinating program in the beautiful Elder Hall, a much more intimate and beautifully-proportioned space, especially to hear Beethoven from a pianist such as Gillham,” Carter says.

“Much of his (Beethoven’s) music was performed in venues of that size or smaller, so it’s as if the audience is practically right on top of the orchestra, almost like a private recital or concert, because you’re not separated by hundreds of metres like in the large concert halls.”

Also part of the ASO’s 2019 schedule is Barry Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute, to be presented by the Adelaide Festival in association with State Opera of South Australia and the Adelaide Festival Centre.

“As we all know from Kosky’s Saul, which was performed at the Adelaide Festival two years ago, Barry Kosky is just a complete genius for theatre (and) a complete genius for opera, so we’re lucky to have him coming back to the Adelaide Festival,” Carter says.

“To get a ticket to The Magic Flute in Berlin is like the hottest ticket in town, wherever it’s being performed, so it really is quite a prestige to have it come to Adelaide.”

The 2019 program will also see the return of the popular Mozart at Elder series, Last Night of the Proms and Gigs at Grainger.

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