2023 Admiral Swansea Bay 10k - 17 Sept 2023
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BBC National Orchestra of Wales return to Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall for a brand new packed season of events. Featuring world renowned musicians and exceptional pieces of music that will move and delight audiences of all ages.

The American Dream

Friday 21/4/23, 7.30pm

Ives Central Park in the Dark, Ives The Unanswered Question, Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 1, Adams Harmonielehre.

Ryan Bancroft conductor, Bomsori Kim violin.

Imagine the days before motorcars, sitting on a bench in Central Park on a summers night… the sounds of night and the silence of darkness, the sound of street singers, night owls, piano ragtime, brass street bands and even a fire engine and this is the audio-painting Charles’ Ives creates in his Central Park in the Dark. It’s partner work from ‘Two Contemplations’, The Unanswered Question is less well-known but no less poignant. Often described as philosophy expressed in music, this relentlessly curious work deals with the “perennial question of existence”, and offsets three groups of instruments whose layers never quite come into sync.

Szymanowski’s intense and eclectic musical style rejects traditional tonality and romantic aesthetics; and ecstatic, sumptuous music and lustrous, cascading rhapsodic passages make way for the shimmering heights of the solo violin in his First Violin Concerto. With fast movements exploring exotic landscapes, the work is contoured by eastern scales and animated orchestral interjections, tinged with blues and mystery. South Korean violinist Bomsori Kim joins Principal Conductor Ryan Bancroft and BBC NOW for this scintillating concerto.

A gigantic super-tanker takes off from the surface of San Francisco Bay and thrusts itself into the sky like a Saturn rocket… this is the dream that inspired John Adams’ Harmonielehre. Full of surprises but always enchanting in its glowing and gleaming sonority, this expressive work bursts with energy, propelled forward by its Minimalist harmonic movement.

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Symphonic Dances

Friday 12/5/23, 7.30pm

Anna Clyne Masquerade, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

James Feddeck conductor, Daniel Ciobanu piano.

Anna Clyne’s Masquerade draws inspiration from the original mid-18th century promenade concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens, where people from all walks of life mingled to enjoy a wide array of entertainment; from music to acrobats, dancing, fireworks and masquerades. The work evokes the sense of occasion and celebration, melding original themes with old English country dancing melodies.

Stirring a similar sense of occasion is Tchaikovsky’s majestic and passionate First Piano Concerto. With its fabulous flourishes, thundering bravura, dazzling passagework and flamboyant and soaring tunes, it was a triumphant success at its premiere, and remains equally popular today. Returning to BBC NOW by popular demand, the prodigiously talented pianist Daniel Ciobanu is poised to guide us through the works stormy developments, meltingly beautiful melodies and fiery finale.

With luscious shifting harmonies and the rhythmic vitality characteristic of his later style, Rachmaninov’s final complete composition, his Symphonic Dances, uses motifs derived from Russian Church music alongside quotes from his own first symphony, creating a stirring mix of nostalgia versus the big city bustle and driving energy of ‘Modern America’.

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Season Closing Concert

Friday 2/6/23, 7.30pm

Grace Williams Concert Overture
Mozart Symphony No. 39
R. Strauss Don Quixote

Ryan Bancroft conductor, Alice Neary cello, Rebecca Jones viola.

Born in Barry, Welsh composer Grace Williams had a particular love of writing for orchestra, and her Concert Overture, which we hear today under the baton of Principal Conductor Ryan Bancroft, is a relatively early display of her gift in this genre. We hear this alongside one of Mozart’s final symphonies, his 39th, which is shrouded in mystery. Uncharacteristically Mozart in style, its slow and grand opening leads to an energetic allegro; a drifting andante bounds into the energetic Minuet, with its unforgettable tunes and bubbly arpeggiated features before jumping into the mischievous monothematic finale.

Strauss often used a story to stimulate his musical imagination, and Don Quixote, with his fantasies filled of the stories he read; of enchantments, quarrels, battles, challenges, wooings, loves and storms, provides more than adequate food for thought. Featuring Alice Neary on solo cello as Don Quixote, and Rebecca Williams on solo viola as his servant, Sancho, Strauss tells of the Don’s many escapades in this slightly barmy 10 movement tone poem.

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