Swansea Christmas - yours to Enjoy!
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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.

Christmas Celebrations – Swingin’ Christmas

Wednesday 14/12/22, 7.30pm

Andrew Cottee conductor
Kerry Ellis  singer
Matthew Ford  singer

Swing into Christmas with conductor Andrew Cottee and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as we return with our ever-popular Christmas Celebrations Concerts in Cardiff and Swansea.

Westend star Kerry Ellis, and Big Band singing legend Matt Ford join the orchestra for an evening featuring popular classics such as Santa Claus is Coming to Town, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Sleigh Ride to name just a few, all with a jazz and swing twist, this lively, festive Christmas Cracker, perfect for all the family, is sure to get you in the mood. So don your Christmas jumpers and festive hats, and get on down to the Brangwyn Hall for a swingtastic night of music.

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Disney’s Fantasia in Concert

Saturday 14/1/23, 3pm

Fantasia in Concert, featuring highlights from two of Disney’s most extraordinary and groundbreaking animated feature films “Fantasia” (1940) and its sequel “Fantasia 2000,” accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is not to be missed! Blending animated imagery with classical music, the concert will ignite the imaginations of a new generation. Scenes from each of the two iconic films will be projected in high definition on a large screen above the orchestra as they perform classical selections including Beethoven’s The Pastoral Symphony, Debussy’s Clair de Lune, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, among others.

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Fauré Requiem with Ludovic Morlot

Saturday 11/2/23, 7.30pm

Brahms Violin Concerto, Messiaen O Sacrum Convivium, Fauré Requiem.

Ludovic Morlot conductor, James Ehnes violin, Rhian Lois soprano, Neal Davies baritone, BBC National Chorus of Wales.

Brahms’ gloriously lyrical Violin Concerto seems to express the very soul of the violin. From its soaring, dreamy and majestic melodies to the boisterous lilt of the finale, its uncompromising demand for virtuoso playing makes it the perfect showcase for any violinist. With a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Canadian violinist James Ehnes takes centre stage as soloist for this much-loved work.

Much of Messiaen’s music has a religious context, so it may be surprising to know that he only ever wrote one piece of vocal music specifically for the church, his O Sacrum Convivium. With a fervently devotional quality, this fiendishly tricky piece is hushed and reverent, rising to an expressive peak as the text talks of future glory. In contrast, Faure’s Requiem needs little introduction – More intimate in nature than its equally popular counterparts by Verdi and Berlioz, Faure’s Requiem is gentle and comforting, dominated by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest. Truly spellbinding…

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Tadaaki Otaka conducts Britten & Elgar

Friday 24/3/ 23, 7.30pm

Elizabeth Maconchy Nocturne for Orchestra, Britten Violin Concerto, Elgar Symphony No. 2.

Tadaaki Otaka conductor, Simone Lamsma violin.

Much-loved Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka returns to BBC NOW for firm favourites by Elgar and Britten, alongside Elizabeth Maconchy’s charmingly evocative Nocturne for Orchestra.

In this all British programme, exploring the music of three contemporaries of the 20th Century, we’re joined by radiant Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma for Britten’s ever-popular Violin Concerto. With edgy ambivalence, expressed through intricate harmonies, lyrically introspective themes and vigorous rhythmic figures, the concerto is a virtuosic display of extraordinary power.

The music of Elgar holds a special place in Tadaaki’s heart, and audiences are in for a real treat with his Second Symphony. Tremendous in energy, opulence and musical athleticism, the symphony is a rhapsodic flow of original melodies, rhythmic playfulness and intricate, pearly, luminous qualities. This is certainly a concert not to be missed…

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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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