EXAUDI: Exposure 2016 Barbican, 23rd October Among the Babel of interchangeable British choirs offering early music and a smattering of 20th-century classics, EXAUDI stands apart. Ferociously brilliant and completely uncompromising, this vocal ensemble is the bladed edge of contemporary classical music. Under the direction of conductor James Weeks, these extraordinarily talented singers shape the soundscapes of the future, commissioning and premiering works that explore the territory where sound ends and music begins, or possibly the other way around.
EXAUDI’s annual showcase concert—a sampler of short pieces by a selection of living composers—is a great opportunity to hear what’s new in classical music and discover talent that often has yet to make it into the major concert halls. This year’s composers include experimental genre-bender Leo Chadburn, whose whimsical Affix Stamp Here offers an affectionate homage to postcard writing, and Andrew Hamilton, whose newly commissioned Proclamation of the Republic marks the centenary of the Easter Rising in music that grows from tiny beginnings to end with an impassioned dance. Sense and nonsense provide the theme for Claudia Molitor’s Das Schwein, das Schwein and Naomi Pinnock’s The Writings of Jacob Br. Open your ears and you’re guaranteed an exciting evening.
James Ehnes St George’s Hall, Liverpool, 4th October There’s nothing flamboyant or histrionic about James Ehnes’s playing, but make no mistake, this Canadian violinist is a virtuoso of his instrument. His Bach is unlike almost anyone else’s—a mixture of rhythmic drive and expressive directness. Currently artist in residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Ehnes performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin across two evenings. If you can only make one, the second is the concert to pick, featuring the mighty D minor Chaconne—a 15-minute concerto for solo violin that bares the soul of any performer.
Jamie Barton, James Baillieu Wigmore Hall, 23rd October American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton first made her mark on the classical scene when she came away from the 2013 Cardiff Singer of the World competition with the first prize and the audience prize. Three years on, Barton is on the brink of serious stardom, with successes at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as her first solo recording under her belt. For a chance to hear this richly coloured and generous voice, don’t miss her Wigmore Hall debut this month. Barton will perform a wide-ranging programme including Dvorák’s Gypsy Songs, and works by Brahms, Sibelius and Charles Ives accompanied by exciting young pianist James Baillieu.