Important benchmark for Highgate-based music director
The Hallé, Britain s longest established professional symphony orchestra, is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary. For Mark Elder, its Highgate-based music director, it coincides with a decade of personal achievement that recalls the hopes and amb
The Hallé, Britain's longest established professional symphony orchestra, is preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
For Mark Elder, its Highgate-based music director, it coincides with
a decade of personal achievement that recalls the hopes and ambitions of the Manchester orchestra's founder, Charles Hallé.
Mark says: "These celebrations will give us the opportunity to remind the world who Charles Hallé was and what he did for music in Britain."
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Karl Hallé was born in Westphalia, Germany, in 1819 and went on in his 20s and 30s to establish a reputation as a pianist.
He arrived in England from revolutionary-torn Paris, where he had met such luminaries as Berlioz, Chopin and Liszt. And, with his charm and charisma, he set about pioneering organised musical life in Manchester.
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In today's educational jargon, there is much talk of outreach and embedding the orchestra in the community. But these activities were part of Hallé's philosophy and action plan from the start.
It may sound perverse, but on Wednesday January 30 2008, the Hallé will present one of its Thursday series.
It is no practical joke, however, just a matter of historical convenience, since it will mark to the day the 150th anniversary when Hallé promoted his first ever grand orchestral concert.
The gala evening will include a work Hallé himself played on that occasion - Weber's Konzertstuck for piano and orchestra.
The programme will also salute the orchestra's policy of presenting world premieres and first British performances of outstanding works.
Works now celebrated as Hallé Firsts and which represent the orchestra's adventurous policy of bringing new music to the concert platform will also be performed.
One will be Elgar's Alassio - In The South, Constant Lambert's The Rio Grande and Thomas Ades's These Premises Are Alarmed, commissioned for the opening of the Halle's home, Bridgewater Hall, in 1996.
Choral and vocal works have also been part of the Hallé's staple and this genre will be represented with music by Berlioz, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Rossini, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. The last three will be represented by arias sung by distinguished Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.
The concert will be presented by Dame Janet Baker who had a celebrated artistic relationship with Sir John Barbirolli, who led the Hallé with distinction from 1943 until his death in 1970.
Other Hallé Firsts through the anniversary season include Mozart's Gran Partita for 13 wind instruments, Berlioz's Symphonic fantastique The Damnation Of Faust, the first symphonies of Elgar and Shostakovich both conducted by Mark, Vaughan Williams's Sinfonia antartica and Walton's Partita.
A rarity on the list is a work by Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty, the Hallé's conductor from 1920 to 1933.
The Mystic Trumpeter, premiered in 1913, sets words by Walt Whitman. The performance will feature prizewinning British baritone James Rutherford and the Hallé Choir.
Mark says: "Sir Herbert was a lively, mercurial Irishman, a free interpreter with a wide repertoire and a creative musician in his own right. The work is a colourful, late-Romantic piece in the Wagnerian vein, which gives the choir the opportunity for a terrific sing."
Austrian violinist Thomas Zehetmair directs a concert of music by Bartok, Dvorak and Mendelssohn in April.
Living composers taking their place on the list of Hallé Firsts include John Adams, whose Slonimsky's Earbox will be conducted by Andre de Ridder. Sally Beamish's accordion concerto The Singing will be played by James Crabb, while Truls Mork, conducted by Mark, gives the world premiere of a cello concerto by John McCabe. Mark will also conduct the complete cycle of Sibelius's symphonies, and a variety of other works, to mark the 50th anniversary of the composer's death.
For booking and concert information, call 0161 907 9000 or visit www.halle.co.uk.