What classical music is on this month?

October 13, 2016
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Joyce DiDonato: In War and Peace

Barbican, 22nd November

America’s favourite mezzo-soprano is back with a new programme that returns to the baroque repertoire with which she made her name. The concert is DiDonato’s response to the clamour and chaos of the modern world. Faced with so much conflict, she asks, can we find peace in music? With the help of baroque ensemble Il Pomo D’Oro and arias by Handel, Purcell, Jommelli and Monteverdi (including Dido’s Lament and Lascia ch’io pianga), she hopes to do just that.

Steve Reich at 80

Barbican, 5th to 6th November

One of the founding fathers of minimalism, Steve Reich’s influence on music cannot be overestimated. Together with La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Philip Glass, Reich defined the music of the modern city, giving it a pulsing soundtrack that still survives.

The Barbican is celebrating Reich’s 80th birthday with a weekend dedicated to the composer’s music and milieu. It includes the European premiere of Pulse by the Britten Sinfonia and a performance of his early masterpiece The Desert Music by the London Symphony Orchestra. A study day offers the chance to get inside these complex scores. Bafta-winning artist Tal Rosner’s video installation responding to Reich’s 1981 work Tehillim will also be on display.

Jennifer Johnston, Joseph Middleton: Mahler Songs

Clothworks Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds, 5th November

Mezzo Jennifer Johnston has one of the most generous and beautiful voices in the business. Here she joins pianist Joseph Middleton for a recital of two of Gustav Mahler’s most emotionally charged song cycles. While the Rückert-Lieder takes the figure of the poet as its prism, laying bare the joys and fears of a creative life, the Kindertotenlieder muses on the death of children—something Mahler, who lost eight siblings in childhood, understood all too well. That his daughter Maria died a few years after the cycle was published adds to its poignancy.