2018 Norfolk arts preview: the best classical concerts not to miss

PUBLISHED: 11:59 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:43 11 January 2018

Ellen Kent La Traviata, ETO Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi, Jeremy Denk, The Halle Orchestra. Photos: Submitted

Ellen Kent La Traviata, ETO Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi, Jeremy Denk, The Halle Orchestra. Photos: Submitted


The Hallé Orchestra make a 160th anniversary year visit, there is the original jazz band arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, plus the London Philharmonic and opera from Ellen Kent, Merry Opera and English Touring Opera.

La Traviata & Madama Butterfly

King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, January 28 and March 4/Norwich Theatre Royal, March 19-20

Ellen Kent is a phenomenon. An energy-packed dynamo who has opera running through her veins, she prides herself on criss-crossing the country with a host of popular productions starring international performers. Her company’s latest visit features Verdi’s La Traviata (King’s Lynn, March 4) and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (King’s Lynn, January 28), starring the international soprano Alyona Kistenyova and the Korean soprano Maria HeeJung Kim.

The Marriage of Figaro

Diss Corn Hall, February 10

Merry Opera has won fans on previous visits with productions of Kiss Me, Figaro!, The Barber of Seville and their critically acclaimed interpretation of Handel’s Messiah. Here they return to present another classic favourite in their inimitable style. Life, liberty and the pursuit of love in the jazz clubs of the 1960s is driving everyone crazy in this re-staging. Figaro loves Susanna, Cherubino loves the Countess, and the Countess loves the Count. The Count is chasing Susanna and hatches plans to prevent Figaro marrying her…

Rhapsody in Blue

St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, March 2

From its opening clarinet glissando Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue has become synonymous with 1920’s America and its popularity continues to this day. Performed here by the Britten Sinfonia in the original jazz band arrangement with acclaimed pianist Jeremy Denk, the work is paired with Stravinsky’s rhythmically complex Concerto for piano and wind. Both works explore rhythm from the syncopated cadenzas in Stravinsky to the abundant use of dance and ragtime rhythms in Gershwin.

Sound Around Family Concert

Lowestoft Marina Theatre, March 24

The world renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra continues its on-going residency in Lowestoft with this fun-filled, relaxed concert for families. A 25-piece orchestra will introduce the world of orchestral music through classical masterpieces, well-known TV and film themes, sing-alongs, interactive games and more. At the end of the main concert you’ll be invited to try out instruments, meet musicians and even learn how to conduct!

Pictures at an Exhibition

Norwich Central Baptist Church, April 14

A fascinating sounding live programme notes concert from Norwich Baroque, who specialises in fresh and vibrant period instrument performance of music by popular and less well known baroque composers; from Handel, Bach and Vivaldi to Avison, Hellendaal and Mudge. Mussorgsky’s version of Pictures at an Exhibition is a real concert hall favourite. Here music historian Dr Simon Heighes will take you on a guided tour through the gallery, introducing the paintings and the music they inspire. The programme includes Telemann’s picturesque Water Music, a little bit of Chaos courtesy of Rebel, and an exciting new Handel discovery.

English Touring Opera

Norwich Theatre Royal, May 3-5

ETO’s latest visit will see them performing an energetic new production Mozart’s most warm-hearted of operas The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Blanche McIntyre, after his production of Tosca last year. They will also be performing Puccini’s Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi. These two one-act operas could hardly be more different: the first is a moody romance ending in a grotesque murder on a barge in Paris, and the second is a sparkling comedy about a family inheritance in Florence.

London Philharmonic Orchestra

St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, May 21

When Robert Trevino stepped in at short notice in 2013 to conduct a performance at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, he became an overnight sensation. Lauded for the colour and detail of his direction, he has since earned a reputation for his revelatory interpretations of Mahler’s symphonies, so this is a chance to hear him at his very best taking charge of the LPO as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The grandeur of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony will be the perfect partner for emotional candour of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2.

The Hallé Orchestra

King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, July 15

This world-class orchestra makes a welcome return to the King’s Lynn Festival for a celebratory opening night concert at this year’s King’s Lynn Festival.

Founded by Sir Charles Hallé in Manchester, the Hallé gave its first concert in the city’s Free Trade Hall on 30 January 1858, so this year it is marking its 160th season. It has a reputation for artistic excellence, ranking it amongst the world’s top symphonic ensembles. Under conductor Stephen Bell, the programme will include Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, Walton, and Vaughan Williams Norfolk Rhapsody No.1.

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