Yo-Yo Ma & NY Philharmonic Barbican, London, 2nd April
America’s greatest living composer, John Adams, celebrates his 70th birthday this year. Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic (below) bring two of his classic works to London: the pulsing urban symphony that is Harmonielehre and the sparkle of his Chairman Dances—a glittering foxtrot for orchestra that the composer describes as an “outtake” from his Nixon in China. The concert also includes the European premiere of a cello concerto by Esa-Pekka Salonen. With Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, this will be a work worth hearing.
London Philharmonic Orchestra Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, 8th April
The Southbank Centre’s year-long Belief And Beyond Belief festival is throwing up some interesting programming, but none more enticing than this bold collision of musical worlds. Mahler’s Eighth Symphony is an exercise in scale—an epic statement of faith that brings together multiple choirs, soloists and a massive orchestra. Vladimir Jurowski pairs it with its Renaissance twin: Thomas Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in Alium, a supreme feat of musical engineering and one of the most beautiful choral works in the repertoire.
Kitty Whately, Joseph Middleton St George’s Hall Concert Room, Liverpool, 25th April
Escape the bombast of St George’s Day with this thoughtful celebration of Englishness, courtesy of mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately and pianist Joseph Middleton. A former winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, Whately is one of the UK’s most interesting young mezzos, and here she has put together a programme full of pastoral nostalgia—music by Vaughan Williams, Thomas Arne and more is interspersed with readings from Shakespeare, Housman and Hardy.