Wigmore Hall Artistic Director John Gilhooly announces his 2020/21 Season
- Programme of concerts, learning events and broadcasts continues to expand as Wigmore Hall draws record numbers to its 550-capacity auditorium, with c. 200,000 attendances at the Hall last season
- Mitsuko Uchida celebrates Wigmore Hall’s 120th birthday with a gala concert in June 2021
- Vocal highlights include Christian Gerhaher, Diana Damrau, René Pape, Lise Davidsen, Gerald Finley, Marianne Crebassa, Lawrence Brownlee, Sabine Devieilhe, Sir Simon Keenlyside, Alice Coote, Christoph Prégardien and Elsa Dreisig
- Special appearances from Leonidas Kavakos, Sir András Schiff, Frank Peter Zimmermann, and Wigmore Hall Associate Artists the Takács Quartet
- Artist residencies include cellists Jean-Guihen Queyras and Gary Hoffman, clarinettist Martin Fröst, pianists Pavel Kolesnikov, Igor Levit, Jeremy Denk, Cédric Tiberghien, Llŷr Williams, Bertrand Chamayou and Beatrice Rana, and baritone Florian Boesch
- Martinů’s seven string quartets are performed by the Pavel Haas Quartet – the first time the cycle has been presented in a single series in London, alongside works by other great Czech composers
- Season-long focus on Mendelssohn, including the complete string quartets, selected choral music and a Mendelssohn and Liszt song series
- A six-day festival of music linked to Marcel Proust ahead of the centenary of the writer’s death
- The music of Morton Feldman is celebrated across two days, with Igor Levit and Apartment House
- Quatuor Ébène explores late Beethoven, and the Doric String Quartet plays late Schubert
- Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet begins a multi-season Debussy series
- Mozart series with the Hagen Quartet (in its 40th anniversary year) and special guests Jörg Widmann, Igor Levit, Daniel Ottensamer, Gautier Capuçon and Kirill Gerstein
- A celebration of Myra Hess’s National Gallery concerts with the Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall’s Chamber Ensemble in Residence
- First ever performance at Wigmore Hall of a Passion on Good Friday, with other festivals in the Christian liturgical year also marked, including Spanish Nativity music, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and music for Holy Week
- The Jerusalem Quartet presents a programme of Yiddish Cabaret with soprano Hila Baggio
- Early Music residencies from ensembles Arcangelo, Dunedin Consort, Freiburg Baroque, La Serenissima, The Sixteen and Stile Antico
- Wigmore Hall’s ongoing partnership with BBC Radio 3 brings artists such as Mischa Maisky, Paul Lewis, Stéphane Degout and Véronique Gens to the Hall for Monday lunchtime concerts.
- Jazz residency from bassist Christian McBride and a special celebration of ECM Records at 50
- Wigmore Hall continues its tradition of nurturing young artists with returns from pianists Andrew Tyson, Joseph Moog and Kit Armstrong, violinist Stephen Waarts, guitarist Sean Shibe, saxophonist Jess Gillam, and outstanding mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska
- Award-winning Austrian composer Thomas Larcher is Composer in Residence
- Learning Festival in February 2021 explores the theme of connectivity – in our hyperconnected world are we truly connected, or in fact becoming more disconnected? When we face isolation, how can music connect us?
Remaining true to its distinctive artistic identity, Wigmore Hall continues to expand its audiences and international reach. Through John Gilhooly’s concert programming, the Hall’s success in building and sustaining relationships with artists, its learning and participatory activity, its broadcasting – such as its partnership with BBC Radio 3 and its live internet streams – and through schemes like its £5 tickets for under-35s (in collaboration with Classic FM) and free tickets for under-25s (in collaboration with The CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust), Wigmore Hall is attracting a larger and more diverse audience than ever before. Each season, some 200,000 people now attend events at the 550-seat hall, and they are complemented by radio listeners and online viewers all over the world who have free access to its growing library of audio and video broadcasts, regardless of background or income.
John Gilhooly, said:
‘It has been a huge personal honour and joy for me to put together Wigmore Hall’s 120th season, and to further expand our learning, digital and outreach activities. I believe that music can speak to us at every stage of life, and that it accompanies us right through life. This is the guiding principle for what we do here. We look beyond boundaries and genres, and we celebrate the life-enhancing power of great music-making, up close.’
Wigmore Hall nurtures artists throughout their careers, and the 2020/21 Season will feature many musicians who have enjoyed decades of prominence on the world’s musical stages and a long association with Wigmore Hall – among them Sir András Schiff, Stephen Kovacevich, Martha Argerich, Christian Zacharias, Steven Isserlis, Gerald Finley, the Borodin Quartet (celebrating its 75th anniversary) and the Hagen Quartet (celebrating 40 years as an ensemble).
Another pillar of the season is formed by artists who have established their reputations within the past 10 years, not least through regular appearances at, and championing by, Wigmore Hall. One of these is Igor Levit, who will mark Beethoven’s 250th birthday (which falls in December 2020) with a complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, running from September 2020 to July 2021. This will not be Levit’s first Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall – he undertook the mighty challenge previously in the 2016/17 Season – but he now returns once again at John Gilhooly’s invitation, to perform the cycle twice in 20/21 across a total of 16 concerts, coinciding with the release of his complete Beethoven sonata recordings on Sony.
Among the young artists appearing in 2020/21, two who already look set to become close to Wigmore Hall are the American pianist Andrew Tyson (whose June 2019 recital at the Hall led The Sunday Times to name him one of its ‘most exciting rising stars’) and the Macedonian-born mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska, currently a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, who in 2019 won the Guildhall Wigmore Prize and, at Wigmore Hall itself, the Kathleen Ferrier Awards’ Loveday Song Prize and the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
The season will bring a total of some 1,000 concerts and events. This is an overview of just some of them.
In-depth explorations of great repertoire past and present
- The complete cycle of Mieczysław Weinberg’s 17 string quartets, performed by Quatuor Danel, was launched in the 2019/20 Season and it continues in 2020/21. As in 2019/20, a Weinberg Focus Day will be led by violinist Linus Roth.
- The music of Morton Feldman (1926–1987), who, in the words of The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, ‘opened up vast, quiet, agonizingly beautiful worlds of sound,’ is explored in a day of concerts by chamber ensemble Apartment House. The evening before, Igor Levit gives a performance of Feldman’s Triadic Memories, alongside Schubert’s Bb Sonata.
- Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen present the complete Beethoven violin sonatas, and Leonidas Kavakos and Enrico Pace also perform selected violin sonatas by the great composer; Sir András Schiff interleaves Beethoven’s piano sonatas with works by Bach; Cédric Tiberghien continues his two-season survey of Beethoven keyboard variations; Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley survey selected Beethoven piano trios, whilst Igor Levit performs the complete sonatas twice across the season.
- Composer in Residence for the season is Thomas Larcher (born in Innsbruck in 1963). After the UK première of his first opera Das Jagdgewehr at the 2019 Aldeburgh Festival, The Times wrote: ‘This opera might well be a masterpiece.’ A focus day will bring performances by Paul Lewis, Quatuor Diotima, Ilker Arcayürek, Sarah Aristidou, Benjamin Baker, Benjamin Frith and Maciej Kułakowski, while all four of Larcher’s string quartets will be heard in the course of the season, played by the Novus, Diotima, Castalian and Arditti quartets, and Britten Sinfonia will present an evening of his chamber music. South Tyrolean baritone Andrè Schuen performs the world première of Larcher’s new song cycle, commissioned by Wigmore Hall.
- 2020/21 at Wigmore Hall will also bring new commissions from Nico Muhly and Helen Grime, and focuses on Simon Rowland-Jones and Brian Elias.
- Stephen Kovacevich celebrates his 80th birthday concert with a programme of Beethoven and Mozart in the company of Martha Argerich, Tamsin Waley-Cohen and members of the Belcea Quartet.
- The 40th anniversary of the Hagen Quartet is marked with five concerts that bring a cycle of Mozart string quartets and collaborations with clarinettists Jörg Widmann and Daniel Ottensamer, cellist Gautier Capuçon, and pianists Kirill Gerstein and Igor Levit.
- The Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall’s Chamber Ensemble in Residence, will present a series across the season which explores Myra Hess’s National Gallery concerts from 1939–1946.
- The origins of the Borodin Quartet go back to the Moscow Conservatory in 1945, and its 75th anniversary is honoured with a concert in November 2020.
- Anticipating 2022, which brings the centenary of the death of Marcel Proust, Steven Isserlis has, at John Gilhooly’s invitation, conceived a six-day festival of music that has links to the epoch-making French writer. One of Proust’s subsidiary characters is the composer Vinteuil, whose violin sonata plays a salient role in the first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu. Joining Isserlis are Jeremy Denk, Joshua Bell, Timothy Ridout, Connie Shih, Trio Gaspard and the Castalian String Quartet.
- In a four-concert residency, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras plays solo and demonstrates the diversity of his talents and interests in collaborations with harpsichordist Michael Behringer, with the Belcea Quartet and viola player Tabea Zimmermann (in Brahms’s string sextets), and with lyra player Sokratis Sinopoulos and zarb players/percussionists Keyvan Chemirani and Bijan Chemirani.
- Among clarinettist Martin Fröst’s colleagues in his five-concert residency are viola player Antoine Tamestit, pianist Shai Wosner, and the Schumann Quartet.
- In addition to performing Beethoven with Enrico Pace, Leonidas Kavakos gives a recital in partnership with Yuja Wang.
- Julia Fischer plays two evenings of solo Bach.
- The partnership of Gautier Capuçon and Daniil Trifonov, already heard at such venues as Carnegie Hall and the Verbier Festival, comes to London.
- The Doric String Quartet, joined by Pieter Wispelwey, makes a survey of late Schubert.
- The string quartet programme also brings concerts by Quatuor Ébène, Schumann Quartet, Takács Quartet, Brentano String Quartet, Jerusalem Quartet, Chiaroscuro Quartet, Doric String Quartet, Elias String Quartet and Artemis String Quartet.
- Cellist Gary Hoffman presents three concerts across the season, focusing on French composers such as Fauré, Debussy, Godard, Saint-Saëns and Magnard.
- Chineke!, Europe’s first majority-BME orchestra, gives a full-evening concert at Wigmore Hall for the first time, following a series of acclaimed late night concerts in previous seasons.
- Guitarist Sean Shibe returns to the Hall for a second full evening recital.
- Piano trios in recital across the season include Trio Isimsiz, Leonore Piano Trio, Amatis Trio, Trio Gaspard, Schnyder Trio, Trio Wanderer, Z.E.N. Trio, Busch Trio, Aquinas Piano Trio and Sitkovetsky Trio.
- There are recitals from star violists Tabea Zimmermann and Timothy Ridout.
- The Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective returns to Wigmore Hall, following its 19/20 Season debut.
- April 2021 marks the return of the triennial Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition.
Song Recital and Vocal
- On 10 September 2020, Christian Gerhaher will open the season, which will also include recitals by, among others, Juliane Banse, Lawrence Brownlee, Alice Coote, Marianne Crebassa, Diana Damrau, Lise Davidsen, Sabine Devieilhe, Elsa Dreisig, Gerald Finley, Sir Simon Keenlyside, Katharina Konradi, Martin Mitterrutzner, James Newby, René Pape, Marlis Petersen, Julian Prégardien, Christoph Prégardien, Anna Prohaska and Birgid Steinberger.
- Florian Boesch, a regular presence at Wigmore Hall since 2007, has a three-concert residency that includes a performance of Winterreise. Among his collaborators is Malcolm Martineau.
- Born in Macedonia, raised in Canada and currently on the opera course at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, prize-winning mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska made her Wigmore Hall debut in 2019 and gives two recitals in 2020/21.
- There are Sunday afternoon recitals by the five finalists in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize: Chinese tenor Mingjie Lei, who took the Song Prize; Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach (who became 2019 Cardiff Singer of the World); South Korean soprano Sooyeon Lee; Welsh mezzo-soprano Angharad Lyddon; and Russian tenor Roman Arndt.
- Graham Johnson’s three-concert ‘A-Z of song’ in January 2021, comprising a song for each letter of the alphabet, will be spelled out by a glittering array of established and emerging singers, to launch the Hall’s 120th anniversary year.
- A special song project will be built around the theme of mental health and male suicide prevention.
- Wigmore Hall underlines its commitment to emerging artists with culmination recitals in September 2020 for the second year of its French Song Exchange programme.
- There are song masterclasses from Robert Holl and Anne Sofie von Otter.
- Sir András Schiff gives four recitals in the course of the season, which pair Schumann and Janáček, and Beethoven and Bach.
- Jean-Efflam Bavouzet launches a Debussy project which will run for three seasons, while Francesco Piemontesi continues his Schubert sonata cycle and Cédric Tiberghien completes his series of Beethoven Variations.
- Mitsuko Uchida celebrates Wigmore Hall’s 120th birthday with a gala concert in June 2021; her first solo recital at the Hall since 2001.
- Steven Osborne has been invited to Wigmore Hall for the celebration of his 50th birthday, and among other leading recitalists are Daniil Trifonov, Andrew Tyson, Tim Horton, Leon McCawley, Mariam Batsashvili and Seong-Jin Cho.
- Christian Zacharias gives a farewell recital.
- While Igor Levit’s Beethoven sonata cycle runs through almost the entire season, Llŷr Williams undertakes a cycle of the Schubert sonatas, and there are residencies from Jeremy Denk (including a recital segment that alternates mazurkas by Chopin and Thomas Adès), Beatrice Rana, Bertrand Chamayou and Pavel Kolesnikov.
- 2020/21 brings residencies by La Serenissima, Freiburg Baroque, Stile Antico, Arcangelo, Dunedin Consort and The Sixteen.
- Festivals in the Christian liturgical year will be marked with concerts at Wigmore Hall. In December 2020, the Dunedin Consort performs Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, while a programme of Spanish Nativity music is given by Stile Antico. On 17 March 2021, tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen and A Nocte Temporis salute St Patrick’s Day, while later in the month and in early April come concerts of music for Holy Week (Irish Baroque), Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories (Stile Antico) and Wigmore Hall’s first-ever Good Friday presentation of a Passion, here the St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastiani (1622–1683), performed by Fretwork. The following day, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater is on the programme of a concert by Les Talens Lyriques.
- Vocal ensemble Siglo de Oro presents a special concert of music by Matthias Werrecore, maestro at Milan Cathedral in the first half of the sixteenth century.
- Le Concert Spirituel and Hervé Niquet give a performance presented by Wigmore Hall at the Roman Catholic church St James’s, Spanish Place, in a programme of Benevolo, Monteverdi, Palestrina and Frescobaldi.
- The season also brings concerts by Avi Avital, Mahan Esfahani, Thomas Dunford, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, La Nuova Musica, Tenebrae, Les Arts Florissants, Solomon’s Knot, Raffaele Pé with La Lira di Orfeo, Vox Luminis, and Gramophone Award winners Cupertinos with Luis Toscano.
- American bassist Christian McBride is in residence for three concerts, beginning with a duo performance with jazz pianist Jason Moran, and John Gilhooly has invited Manfred Eicher, founder of ECM Records, to bring artists associated with the label, including the Avishai Cohen Quartet, Reto Bieri, Anna Gourari and Anja Lechner, to perform in four concerts across the season.
- Over the course of the season, Wigmore Hall’s partnership with Classic FM will make 25,000 £5 tickets available to people aged under 35, while under-25s will continue to enjoy access to free tickets for selected events through the Hall’s long-established relationship with the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust.
- Wigmore Hall continues use innovative digital initiatives to broadcast free concerts worldwide, whilst maintaining characteristically high production values and outstanding audio and video quality. In the course of 2020/21, the listings and concert pages on thsi website will be enhanced to provide even readier access to the concert programme, in-progress live streams and the unique library of concerts and podcasts available on demand – all at no charge to the viewer.
Wigmore Hall's Learning programme continues its dedication to providing opportunities for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate in creative music-making. In collaboration with a range of community, education, arts, health and social care organisations, the 2020/21 Learning programme will engage a broad and diverse range of people through projects, concerts, workshops and online resources.
The idea of ‘connectivity’ will drive the Learning Festival in February 2021, exploring music as a powerful connector in a world in which many face isolation.