Save articles for later
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
The stage of the Opera House Concert Hall will double in size to accommodate one of conductor Simone Young’s most ambitious projects ever, as part of Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s 2024 season.
Several rows of seats will be removed from the concert hall to make space for the more than 125 musicians and 200 singers required to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, an epic cantata that has never been performed in Sydney.
Simone Young is taking on her biggest challenge yet.Credit: Peter Brew-Bevan
“It’s like massive Mahler,” Young, SSO’s principal conductor, says. “If you enjoy Mahler, you’re going to love Gurrelieder.”
Speaking of Mahler, Young will conduct the composer’s Fifth Symphony – the work at the heart of the critically acclaimed film Tar, starring Cate Blanchett – to open the 2024 season. It is one of eight programs Young will lead.
It’s not the only link between Young and Blanchett. The actor was the executive producer of this year’s Knowing the Score, a biopic about Young. The conductor suspects the documentary has attracted new audiences to the SSO.
“A lot of people have said, ‘Oh, we saw the documentary and that made us really curious’,” Young says.
Young with Cate Blanchett on the red carpet for the premiere of Tar in November.Credit: Edwina Pickles
She welcomes audiences sharing thoughts like these with her after a concert: “A lot of people hang around the stage door after a concert to say hello. I love that. I particularly love it when people have brought the kids along … or their mum, who hasn’t been to a concert for 20 years.”
Next year’s ambitious season includes works by seven Australian composers, including Peggy Glanville-Hicks’ 1953 work Three Gymnopedies. Paul Grabowsky’s Wata will bring First Nations songmen together in a work that draws inspiration from Indigenous ceremonial song practices.
Singer-songwriter Lior, composer Nigel Westlake and Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung musician and academic Lou Bennett have collaborated on Ngapa William Cooper, a song cycle that shines a spotlight on the remarkable tale of a Yorta Yorta man who led the world’s only non-Jewish protest against Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht.
Bell Shakespeare founder John Bell will read excerpts from The Tempest in a concert inspired by Shakespeare’s play.
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs at the Concert Hall.Credit: Daniel Boud
Young will cap the year conducting Wagner’s Die Walkure, featuring Grammy-nominated heldentenor Stuart Skelton as Siegmund, in the second installment of the SSO’s Ring Cycle.
More than a year since the orchestra returned to the refurbished Concert Hall, Young is impressed by the quality of the sound. But acoustic problems have arisen for some performers.
“There are some hotspots on the stage where the musicians are being exposed to too high levels of sound,” she says. “We’re working with the acoustic engineers to see how we can mitigate these.”
From her position on the podium, the sound is a revelation. “Usually in a concert hall, the conductor’s podium is the worst place to stand because you hear the strings immediately around you and very little else,” she says.
Now she hears the entire orchestra. That’s possible at only a few podiums, including Berlin’s Philharmonie, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Vienna’s Golden Hall.
“They’re some of the best halls in the world,” she says. “Well, Sydney’s right up there now … And for the first time in a long time, the audience is actually hearing just how good this orchestra is.”
The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from books editor Jason Steger. Get it delivered every Friday.
Most Viewed in Culture
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article