CSO unveils a 2021 season of masterworks and new Australian music

Ian Bushnell 26 October 2020
Jessica Cottis

Artistic adviser and conductor Jessica Cottis with the CSO. Photo: Martin Ollman.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra will be back in 2021 with four major Llewellyn Series concerts, the pioneering Australian Series at a new venue, a new Chamber Classics series and the Summer Prom at Government House.

The CSO has unveiled its 2021 season, with new artistic adviser Jessica Cottis saying it will take audiences on a journey to the heart of the human condition.

Exploring universal themes of longing, desire, transformation and the vastness of the cosmos, the 2021 season includes such masterworks as Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins.

“Our milestones are musical masterpieces, works that light up the imagination and dive into the depths of the powerful forces that shape our human experiences,” she said.

Although all concerts will be delivered in a COVID-safe manner and some seating arrangements in Llewellyn Hall may be temporarily adjusted to comply with social-distancing restrictions, the CSO’s return to live performances after a year of absence will breathe fresh life into the national capital’s dormant arts sector.

It will also be a season of transition for the CSO, with artistic director Dr Nicholas Milton concluding a 15-year tenure at the orchestra and passing on the baton to Ms Cottis and principal guest conductor Simon Hewett.

Professor Deborah Cheetham is also taking over from the inaugural curator of the Australian Series, Professor Matthew Hindson.

Titled Return, Ms Cottis says the Series explores the often winding, cyclical nature of forward motion and what it means to be part of the longest musical tradition in history.

The series will move from the National Portrait Gallery to the National Museum of Australia in three intimate concerts over the year.

Maintaining its mission to foster the nation’s composers and musicians, the CSO will present 24 Australian works across the season, among them world premieres from Moya Henderson, Ella Macens, Peggy Polias, Brenda Gifford and Kim Cunio.

The piano will also take centre stage with Sine Winther performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Jayson Gilham Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 21 Elvira Madigan.

Jayson Gilham will also perform in recital in Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia.

The new Chamber Classics series will include beloved favourites performed by CSO musicians at Albert Hall.

”Each concert has at its heart favourites of the classical repertoire and will showcase our brilliant CSO musicians in intimate, chamber settings,” Ms Cottis said.

Local legend and Helpmann award winner soprano Lorina Gore will be the 2021 Artist in Focus.

Concertmaster Kirsten Williams will direct the annual matinee special, Classic Afternoon, featuring Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, and feature in the CSO Gala, dedicated to iconic film music.

”Please join us in 2021 – the experience of coming together for live music is incredibly meaningful and sorely missed,” Ms Cottis said.

Ticket sales will initially only be available over the phone (call 6262 6772) and in-person through CSO Direct, with online ticket sales opening on 1 December.

To learn more about the season and ticket sales go to the CSO website.


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