Philharmonia Orchestra announces the 2021/22 season in London under the direction of new Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali


The Philharmonia announces the first half of its 2021/22 season at the Southbank Center, which will be Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s first as Principal Conductor of the Orchestra. Sixth in the history of the Orchestra, he succeeds Esa-Pekka Salonen. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Riccardo Muti, appointed principal conductor of the Philharmonia in 1973 at the age of 32, Rouvali, 34, is one of the youngest artists appointed principal conductor of a London orchestra.

Santtu takes office this fall with a season focused on music inspired by the natural world and humanity’s role within it. To open the season, Santtu conducts an epic double Strauss program with over 100 musicians on stage (September 30). The following week he conducted Stravinsky, Revueltas and the UK premiere of a new Violin Concerto by Bryce Dessner, with Pekka Kuusisto as soloist (3 Oct). He returns in November to conduct Wagner’s The Ring Without Words and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with soprano Miah Persson. Santtu will close the Human / Nature series by conducting Sibelius and Beethoven (December 2) with featured artist of the season Pekka Kuusisto, a concert that will also be available online on demand.

Santtu-Matias Rouvali said: “The environment is a very important subject for me and when I’m not leading I spend a lot of time in nature at my home in Finland – and I know firsthand how much it both is. powerful and delicate. This inspiring series, Human / Nature with the Philharmonic, allows us to show how composers have used music to reflect nature and it brings us together to understand what the natural environment means to us, and its importance. I am extremely proud to join the Philharmonia Orchestra, one of the greatest orchestras in the world, as Principal Conductor, and I look forward to returning to the stage and welcoming our wonderful audience to London and across the Kingdom. -United for our concerts this coming season. “

Santtu was born in Lahti, Finland, where his parents were both members of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and he grew up in and around the orchestra. Trained as a percussionist and with experience on drums in rock bands, he started conducting at an early age and studied at the Sibelius Academy. His first principal direction, which he still occupies, was in Tampere, Finland, where the orchestra had to rehearse concerts due to the “Santtu effect” on the city’s classical music audience. He is also a conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

The Human / Nature series explores how composers approached humanity’s relationship with the natural world, how mountains, forests, rivers and oceans have been a spark of creativity since the dawn of music. Some composers have sought to express and inspire a spiritual reverence for nature, from a sense of awe seen in the grandeur of Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, to the painstakingly observed detail of Messiaen’s Awakening of the Birds. Others have looked at aspects of human nature – our capacity for love, pleasure and empathy is a recurring theme in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, while a tendency towards violence and violence. destruction shapes works such as Koyaanisqatsi (Life Out of Balance) by Philip Glass. Masterpieces as diverse as Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring bear witness to how the rhythms of our planet affect our mind, body and emotions. And the Philharmonia are looking to the future, highlighting this major issue of our time. With the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 to be held in the UK this fall, the Philharmonia has shone the spotlight on a rising generation of activist artistic voices, including composer Gabriella Smith and violinist Pekka Kuusisto, who take on the climate emergency with ingenuity and imagination. Human / Nature is supported by Kathryn and Andrew Davis / The Shelby Collum Davis Charitable Fund.

In the first half of the 21/22 season, the focus will be on Finnish violinist and conductor Pekka Kuusisto, who performs the Sibelius Violin Concerto and a new concerto commissioned as part of Human / Nature by American composer (and co-founder and guitarist of The National), Bryce Dessner; and later conducts the world premiere of a new work by Isobel Waller-Bridge and conducts Vivaldi’s Les Quatre Saisons on violin with improvisation between movements. Bringing together some of the most exciting names in contemporary music, Pekka Kuusisto also takes on the role of curator of the Philharmonia’s new musical series, Music of Today. In this series presented in the Purcell Room of the Southbank Center, Kuusisto will perform Anthozoa by Gabriella Smith, inspired by the vibrant life of the coral reefs of French Polynesia, and the evocative work of John Luther Adams inspired by the desert of the southwestern United States. United, not even the wind (Oct. 3). In Glass, Metal, Wood, Water, he conducts and plays both violin and electronics live in a program inspired by the forces of nature featuring composers from Iceland, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, including Anna Thorvaldsdottír and Andrea Tarrodi (November 28).

Other highlights of the season include Sir András Schiff, one of the most admired musicians of our time, following in Mozart’s footsteps, conducting both piano and podium in A Mozart’s Party (November 18) . The Orchestra opens 2022 with cellist Steven Isserlis, performing Haydn under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe (January 16). Alongside the core symphonic repertoire, the Philharmonia presents a program of Christmas classics (December 9) and Christmas film scores (December 12), as well as a sequel to Tchaikovsky’s season favorite, The Nutcracker (5 December) in a concert with pianist Yefim Bronfman and principal conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali

The 2021/22 season presents a series of great conductors, instrumentalists and singers. Joining principal conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s performances this fall, the Philharmonia welcomes pianist Yefim Bronfman (December 5, 2021) and soprano Miah Persson (November 4, 2021). Conductor Xian Zhang appears alongside mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and violinist Alina Ibragimova (November 11, 2021), and the fall provides an opportunity to hear regular Philharmonia collaborators Pablo Heras-Casado (October 28, 2021) and Elim Chan (November 7, 2021).

Alexander Van Ingen, General Manager of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “It’s a great feeling to be back giving concerts on a large scale with a real live audience, and what better way to bounce back than double epic Strauss bill to start the season “We are delighted that Santtu-Matias Rouvali is starting his new position as Principal Conductor with the Philharmonia with a rich and daring lineup and a full series of concerts centered on our common natural environment. This is a topic close to Santtu’s heart, and through music we hope to inspire, encourage reflection, and remind people of what the natural world means to us. The past 15 months have been incredibly difficult for everyone, and we are so grateful to the family of Philharmonia supporters who have helped us through. I look forward to reconnecting with people in creative ways, through a range of programs with some of today’s greatest artists and composers that deliver an unforgettable musical experience. “

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