Wigmore Hall unveils full season of more than 500 concerts as International artists return to London from over 30 nations
In his 15th season as Wigmore Hall’s Artistic Director, John Gilhooly today unveils the full line-up of concerts and artists for the 2021-22 concert season from 1 September 2021 to 31 July 2022.
Across more than 500 concerts, Wigmore Hall will welcome over 2,500 of the finest singers, instrumentalists and ensembles from within the United Kingdom as well as from over 30 nations, most of whom will be returning to UK for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. The breadth, scale and calibre of the season signal a full return to the pre-pandemic level of programming.
Young people under-35 will have special access to 25,000 tickets at £5 for selected concerts throughout the year.
Spotlight will fall on a number of leading artists who perform multiple times at the Hall. These ‘Artists in Residence’ are the countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, the saxophonist Jess Gillam, the violinists Alina Ibragimova and Christian Tetzlaff, the pianists Sergei Babayan, Angela Hewitt, Benjamin Grosvenor and Leon McCawley, jazz bassist Christian McBride, soprano Fatma Said, the Danish String Quartet and ensembles Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Arcangelo, Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, Solomon’s Knot and Tenebrae.
As one of UK’s most important commissioners of new music, Wigmore Hall will host 50 UK and world premières, bringing the total of commissioned or co-commissioned new works to a record-breaking 700 since 2007. The season’s Composer in Residence is the British composer Huw Watkins.
Wigmore Hall’s much-acclaimed streaming programme, which reached over 7 million viewers over the past 18 months, was recognised last week by The South Bank Sky Arts Awards for Innovation in the Arts During the Pandemic for 'leading the way in transmission of live performance by exceptional performers, providing a much-needed morale boost for classical music lovers during the peak of the pandemic.’ Over 150 concerts will be streamed online next season, beginning with 15 streams in September.
John Gilhooly, Artistic and Executive Director of Wigmore Hall, said:
‘It has been a great joy welcoming audiences back to Wigmore Hall again, with the hope of fuller houses from September. Having navigated through the most difficult period in the Hall’s history, we are under no illusion about the challenges ahead. There is the possibility of postponements or cancellations as each international territory moves through this crisis at a different pace. However, we also want to be as confident as we possibly can be, and we will be quick on our feet in reacting to challenges, as required, to deliver this, with solutions in the Hall itself, or online, as we have done right through this crisis.’
‘It is only thanks to the generosity of our patrons, Friends and many donors, as well as Government support, that we have emerged from this stage of the pandemic intact. We will continue to need the audiences’ support in the year ahead, as we put the musicians, who have lost so much in this period, back on our stage. Already, donors have pledged £1.5m towards next season. Many are signing up to three-year commitments through our newly formed Wigmore Ensemble circle of giving, and we hope to achieve at least £3m in fundraising in each of the next three years ahead.'
In the Footsteps of… is the title of a ground-breaking recital programme from Wigmore Hall Associate Artist the soprano Gweneth Ann Rand. Realised with violinist Sarah Daramy-Williams, pianist Allyson Devenish and with actor Adjoa Andoh as narrator, the programme ranges from traditional spirituals through standard recital favourites to world premières by Errollyn Wallen and Clement Ishmael (14 October). The concert will trace the footsteps of pioneering black artists who performed at Wigmore Hall during the twentieth century, including Marian Anderson, Grace Bumbry and Jessye Norman.
Artist in Residence the tenor Mark Padmore bids farewell to the recital platform in a series of five concerts this season. Pianist Till Fellner joins him for the first of these memorable programmes (19 September, focusing on Schubert and Schumann), followed by concerts with Imogen Cooper (14 February) Mitsuko Uchida (15 & 17 May) and Paul Lewis (25 June). John Gilhooly said, 'These will be Mark's final 'full' recitals at Wigmore Hall, but not necessarily his last appearances here. It is wonderful to celebrate Mark's career alongside these outstanding pianists throughout the season.'
Prominent throughout the season is leading violinist Alina Ibragimova, who appears four times, on the first occasion in partnership with clarinettist Matthew Hunt and pianist Alasdair Beatson in a Sunday morning concert featuring music by Stravinsky and Bartók (5 September). A month later she returns in tandem with Cédric Tiberghien for a wide-ranging programme of duos by Szymanowski, Poulenc, Ysaÿe and Ravel (5 October).
The Nash Ensemble, Chamber Ensemble in Residence at Wigmore Hall, presents a fascinating series recreating some of the programmes from the famous lunchtime recitals that were performed at The National Gallery during World War II. Under the visionary leadership of Dame Myra Hess, these concerts were given to enthusiastic audiences throughout the War, even during the Blitz. Each Nash concert consists of two original National Gallery programmes, chosen to represent the taste and skill with which the series was devised.
A rising star on the UK music scene over recent years, 23-year-old saxophonist Jess Gillam has given renewed prominence to her own instrument, as well as championing classical music in general and contemporary work in particular: her BBC Radio 3 programme The Classical Life has become essential listening for many, and her work has recently been recognised with an MBE. She performs with the Manchester Camerata (20 March).
A leading star at many of the world’s great opera houses, but equally an exceptional exponent of song, the great German soprano Diana Damrau makes a keenly anticipated return to Wigmore Hall. In collaboration with Polish pianist Maciej Pikulski, her recital programme is drawn from three different traditions: Schumann, Strauss, Duparc, Granados, Turina and Obradors all feature (12 October).
Wigmore Hall Associate Artists and seven times Grammy award-winning American jazz bassist, composer and arranger Christian McBride, who returns for three concerts, collaborating with pianist Jason Moran (6 October) and saxophonist Joshua Redman (28 May), as well as his acclaimed band Inside Straight (21 March).
Success in the fields of music, theatre, dance, film and videogames has brought Nitin Sawhney wide admiration for his creativity over a wealth of different media. Recently appointed as a Wigmore Hall Associate Artist, Sawhney performs in summer 2022 (23 July).
Other Wigmore Hall Associate Artists featured in the season include, Gweneth Ann Rand (soprano), Lawrence Power (viola), Trish Clowes (saxophone), and Elaine Mitchener (vocal and movement artist).
Running through the season will be a substantial composer focus on the art of Hugo Wolf -- a figure central to the German Lieder tradition especially beloved of Wigmore audiences.
The series begins with a programme of Wolf’s songs sung in English, with translations undertaken by multi-talented musician and theatre-maker Jeremy Sams, whose previous translations of Schubert’s song-cycles have been widely performed (18 September).
Next comes a Wolf Gala, timed to coincide with the launch of Lieder specialist Richard Stokes’s book The Complete Songs of Hugo Wolf: Life, Letters, Lieder – which looks set to become the definitive work on the subject (2 October).
In summer 2022 there will be three further recitals devoted to Wolf performed by leading baritone Christian Gerhaher and Friends – who include Anna Prohaska (30 June), Anna Lucia Richter (3 July) and Julia Kleiter (6 July).
Other composers prominently featured include Claudio Monteverdi. The programme by acclaimed ensemble Vox Luminis (11 September) marks the start of a thread of concerts celebrating the great Italian Baroque master. The series also takes in his Vespers performed by La Nuova Musica (26 October), and a project featuring mezzo-soprano José Maria Lo Monaco in which his music is paired with that of Astor Piazzola, Argentinian master of nuevo tango, in the latter’s centenary year (4 February).
Pianist Danny Driver and the JACK Quartet play central roles in an important series devoted to the music of one of the great composers of the second half of the 20th century, György Ligeti (29 October, 9 February, 24 May).
Huw Watkins - a figure whose output, covering many genres, has won many admirers - is this season’s Composer in Residence. Three programmes of his work include an important revival of his opera In the Locked Room, first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012 (3 November).
A major new initiative is a focus day for the African Concert Series. This new partnership for Wigmore Hall involves three concerts across one day, exploring the extraordinary depth and diversity of African art music (5 February).
The German violinist Isabelle Faust begins her Wigmore season as a member of an all-star chamber ensemble line-up: alongside Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht they perform Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été and Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck’s rarely performed Notturno, both sung by Christian Gerhaher (28 & 29 September).
Keenly anticipated will be appearances by star Polish counter-tenor Jakub Józef Orliński on 8 October, 10 February – with period-instrument orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro – and 1 May.
Under the imaginative artistic leadership of Jonathan Sells, the Baroque specialist group Solomon’s Knot have achieved steadily increasing prominence over the last decade: the first of their four programmes this season is intriguingly entitled Not the Christmas Oratorio - though the music will be familiar to those who know and love Bach’s masterpiece (10 September).
There is a complete cycle of Beethoven's String Quartets from the Jerusalem Quartet, the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas from Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk, and the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas from Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov.
Celebrated cellist Steven Isserlis returns with pianist Connie Shih for a recital focusing on the music of Camille Saint-Saëns, marking 100 years to the day since the great French composer died (16 December). The Hall also hosts a launch event for Steven Isserlis's new book The Bach Cello Suites: A Companion (24 October).
The Sixteen appear in three programmes, the first mixing four of Handel’s resplendent Chandos Anthems with two of his early Italian chamber cantatas (13 September).
Led by Paul McCreesh, the Gabrieli Consort’s four-concert residency focuses on the rich heritage of J.S. Bach’s music for feast days in the liturgical calendar. The series encompasses Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Ascension Day. (10 December, 10 January, 19 April and 27 May).
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet begins a major Debussy series which was delayed because of the pandemic, and Boris Giltburg is presented in an exciting Ravel in Context series. The Polish pianist Ewa Pobłocka gives her first major series at the Hall.
Sir András Schiff’s rewarding visits are always much looked forward to: this season they include two recitals (12 & 14 November) as well as a substantial Haydn Festival featuring the Quatuor Mosaïques (28 February – 5 March).
Violinist Christian Tetzlaff partners pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in a programme comprising substantial duo works by Dvořák, Bartók and Lutosławski (15 September).
New music is at the fore in the opening weeks of the season, with premières from a wide range of composers including Errollyn Wallen, Kevin Malone and Clement Ishmael.
Armenian pianist Sergei Babayan offers the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier on 27 September; he reappears twice later on in the season, on 27 February and, on 20 May, in company with Martha Argerich.
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor joins Hyeyoon Park (violin), Timothy Ridout (viola) and Kian Soltani (cello) for a programme of piano quartets, including rarities by Mahler and Strauss (9 October).
Another Wigmore favourite, clarinettist and conductor Michael Collins turns 60 in 2022 – something we are invited to celebrate with him on 2 February. Double bassist Leon Bosch also celebrates his 60th birthday year earlier in the season.
Pioneering cellist and composer, Ayanna Witter-Johnson makes two visits to the Hall
Song and vocal highlights this season include Sabine Devieilhe, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Thomas Oliemans, Marlis Petersen, Ian Bostridge, Julia Bullock, Sonya Yoncheva, Magdalena Kožená, Christiane Karg, Gerald Finley, Sandrine Piau, Iestyn Davies, Florian Boesch, Stéphane Degout, Alice Coote, Stuart Skelton, René Pape, Roderick Williams, and Raffaele Pé. Regarded by many as the leading song figure of our time, baritone Christian Gerhaher makes seven appearances at the Hall over the course of the season.
During the lockdown period a number of recently formed groups made their debuts performing at Wigmore Hall for listeners at home. Riot Ensemble (September 7) and the 12 Ensemble (September 8, with soprano Mary Bevan) return to play before live audiences.